Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Boomer Stereotype

I intensely dislike the designation “boomer” and “baby boomer” ~ and have from the first time I heard it. I do not like being stereotyped! It is a dreadful oversimplification of what it meant to come of age in the 60’s and all that it has taken to become who and what I am today. Baby boomers are individuals and people. I came to resent it even more when young people began to use the term, like somehow it gave them a personal, insider view of who we are, one that they had no right to.
I have begun to mellow just a bit ~ mostly by necessity. Boomer has become a convenient shorthand, especially in my work where I need to reach out to this group online. The internet demands a keyword approach. What better keyword than “boomer” when trying to reach people over 50?

The article “The Ironic Power of Stereotype”  however, brought up a point I had not thought about prior. Beyond the usual problems with stereotypes, they have the potential to take away our power by using up a chunk of our intellectual and creative energy by forcing us to react in some way to them.  When I am referred to as a “boomer” I cringe and become indignant. This requires attention from me that could be used more productively elsewhere if I did not have to react to the stereotype.

It would seem that  technology and viral communication are reinforcing our tendency to stereotype. Both of these things me pause.

If you have the time I highly recommend reading the blog post The Ironic Power of Stereotype.


Doris Gallan said...

I felt the same way. I don't like being stereotyped or grouped by my age. But when I started looking for a word to describe the group of over 50s I'm targeting with my travel planning book, Baby Boomer kept coming up.

I've finally accepted it and don't waste any time worrying about being stereotyped since this group is so varied. People using this term simply as a slotting or marketing ploy are doing so at their own peril. But using it as just one of many descriptors for this group, I think, is okay. It needs to be done with sensitivity.

Karen Frank said...

Ah! I so agree!

I am a great "hater of labels" of all kinds and the term "Baby Boomer" has always smacked me upside the head - and not in a good way. Sure labels are convenient, but they also allow us to be "put in a box" along with EVERYTHING else someone has experienced in connection with that label.

My bottom line is that, while convenient, any label is lazy and unproductive - especially in business.

Let's ban the boomer label - shall we?

Karen Frank,
Linguistic Alchemist, Networking Trainer

Quote of the Day

Martha Beck's Books

Aging Abundantly Tote Bag

Books by Wayne Dyer

Books by Sarah Ban Breathnach

M. Scott Peck

Peck's insight will help even more travelers find their way as they learn to delay gratification, accept responsibility, embrace reality and maintain flexibility.