“I’ll be positive again tomorrow, but right now…babyboomers, you win. Congratulations. You got everything, you have everything, and this is a hopeless, sh**ty time to live” – anonymous, 2012
The generation lucky enough to have been spawned between 1945 and 1965 are the biggest, richest generation the UK has ever seen.
They strolled into jobs whistling, while we get downtrodden and ignored. The privilege continues even now – the employment rate of the over 50s is at a record high, and at a record low for the under 25s.
They got to mess up the environment, and we’re the ones who have to fix it.
They got punk when it was original, instead of a tired footnote.
Unlike the generation before them, they avoided living through war, rationing and having bombs dropped while they were trying to sleep.
Unlike the generation after them, they had jobs, unconditional welfare without being forced to “get work experience” at Poundland and the bizarre belief that their children don’t know the meaning of hardship.
These babyboomers. They don’t know they’re born.
Speaking of being born, they’ll be dying in droves before too long. We might get some of their massive wealth handed back to us through inheritance, at which point we can pay off some bills and enjoy the shift in our self esteem from “pretty low” to “oh who even cares anymore?” Or we’ll have the lovely task of selling their house to pay off the inheritance tax.
So we’ll be jobless orphans with a fat tax bill. Thanks for the mouldy dregs of your sweet life, babyboomers…
…and waah, waah waah.
Let’s get over it, shall we? Today can’t really be so much worse than yesteryear. The HTBJ team has devised a list of reasons we, in this hopeless, desolate and desperate age of joblessness, actually have it better than the babyboomers.
When the babyboomers had only recently boomed, there were barely any sources of information. They had their parents and teachers, three TV channels which stopped at midnight (to the national anthem and a piercing alarm to wake up those who had nodded off in their armchairs), the one or two books they could get hold of per year, and the ramblings of the nutter down the street.
Only 8% of them made it to university – vs 40% today.
Now, we have Google, the closest thing there is to an omniscient god. A place you can get any question answered. If you have the energy and intelligence to know a decent source from the ramblings of the nutter down the street (who now also has access to Google) you could become an expert in anything and all it would cost is your monthly Broadband fee.
Technology not only brings us the information we so casually ignore to watch The Apprentice, it keeps us close to people we would never have heard from again.
If a teenage babyboomer met someone abroad, they would either never speak again or maintain contact through the false setup of a pen-pal situation.
How are you? I am fine.
Here is a rundown of things that have happened to me since I could last be bothered to pause my life to write to you, and a list of polite questions about your life. Is this getting awkward yet?
Now we have social media, which allows us to be in the same room as everyone we ever wanted to keep in touch with, all the time.
Babyboomers died young of things we won’t. Cervical cancer used to be a major cause of death among women in the UK. Since the 1970s, it has decreased by 70%. Breast cancer killed, and fast. Male lung cancer has almost halved.
We also know more about nutrition, so won’t embarrass ourselves by making our last words “In my day we lived on bacon dripping and sugar sandwiches, and the only harm it did me was this pain in my chest.”
It’s never a picnic to be anything other than a straight white male, but the playing fields have levelled a lot since the babyboomers had the world.
Women were refused mortgages in their own right in the 70s, and black people had the National Front to contend with.
Politicians who supported gay rights – like Ken Livingstone in the 80s – were dismissed as the “loony left”, before our generation were old enough to have words like “bigot” or “homophobic, misogynistic Neanderthals” in our vocabulary.
5) The world is ours now
We may be shafted by the mess they made, but this messy world is still ours. Babyboomers are, in general, the ones left baffled by our new toys like Twitter, iPad editions of magazines, milk-frothing nozzles on coffee machines, the difference between a ‘like’ and a ‘retweet’ and why it’s still discrimination to say “the Asian kids are good at maths”.
We have South Park, The Office, Family Guy and The Simpsons – and we understand why they’re funny.
We have stand up comedians who don’t start jokes with “This black bloke walks into a Jewish pub…” If they wanted decent comedy, they had to wait for Bill Hicks to come over. Now we have YouTube and iTunes comedy section.
Our knees don’t hurt yet, we don’t make a straining noise when we stand up and we have high street coffee chains. Our transport is fast, our plane fares are cheap.
We grew up being told – by them – to reach for the stars, don’t be content with “mustn’t grumble”, strive to be the best, do it while you’re young, don’t miss out, don’t have regrets, don’t make the same mistakes I did.
We haven’t missed out yet. We don’t have regrets yet. And best of all we don’t say “in my day” – because our day is today.
All things considered, we’ve got it better. As our friends across the pond would so fittingly say…boom.