Overworking the Boomers

A recent news article told the story of overworked baby boomers who lost their savings to various crises, therefore keeping them off of any nest egg and permanently out of retirement. Read the article, and come back.

I can relate to one part of the boomer generation. In my college curriculum, you regularly have to work all night to meet deadlines a midst other coursework. The feeling of working several days with only a few hours rest leaves you in a bad condition. Physiologically, you become depressed despite being in good health. When the deadline is reached, you leave it exhausted, physically and emotionally. The feeling of completing one deadline, only to roll into the next phase with no break (i.e. finish a project Friday, have additional deadline Monday) is profoundly taxing. Despite having enjoyed exploring the field before college, the drain of maintaining the curriculum has left me lackadaisical about pursuing anything related to it; even returning from minor vacations puts your body into a depressive state.

This is how boomers must have felt during Vietnam. Their parents, having fought through World War II, would have a sink or swim aggression when raising the kids. For them, living day to day in the United States probably carried some of the front line struggle of fighting for survival.  Fight to survive, or die. When the war ended, the tenacity translated to their careers. As a child, a boomer was in the household of pure aggression, as dad went out each day to wage war at the job, and mom screeched about minding manners and conformity.

The Cold War was mom and dad’s war, as it must have seemed that every problem needed to be solved with violence and aggression alone. First World War II, then Korea. When the Vietnam War rolled around, those kids turned early adults with the continual sense of burning out from the constant national aggression. One violent conflict rolled right into the next, no respite. Fight for your country. Do your chores. Get a job. Get married. Be normal. The simple fact is, the constant exposure permanently shied the generation away from direct conflict. The Greatest Generation had no idea how to imagine a passive life and therefore had no idea how to handle raising their boomer kids peacefully.

The result is sinister: Boomers tried to raise the future generations with passive-aggressiveness. Be a high achiever, but not by squashing the achievements of others. Be the best, but don’t distinguish yourself. Be fair but be the winner. Be yourself with women. Get to retirement fast as possible to cancel yourself out of society, Etc.

Based on this, how could subsequent generations not grow up expressing postmodernism and its neurotic and nihilistic tendencies?

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