The essay “Why Millennials Will Miss Boomers When They’re Gone” by Keith Spencer gives the reader a view on the generation gap between Baby Boomers and millennials. It goes into great detail, describing those generations’ differences, the reasons for those and what important lessons readers must learn. The essay is informative, persuasive and entertaining due to the author’s chosen tone and diction, among other strengths, which makes it thought-provoking and easy to read.
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First of all, the author did thorough research prior to writing his essay and it can be seen throughout the work. He gives the reader a lot of information about both Boomers and millennials, supporting his words by statistics and historical facts. Speaking about the on-going rivalry between the generations, Spencer says that a “poll found that 51% of millennials agreed that Baby Boomers had made things worse for their generation”.
Further comparing the two, he goes on by saying “the generation born between 1946 and 1964 were more radical than millennials”. According to Spencer, “a recent study found that Boomers were 7 times more likely to spread fake news through social media compared to adults under 30”. It may seem that he is belittling the older generation in his essay with those numbers, but the author remains objective throughout his work.
Given that Spencer is a millennial himself, it is interesting to note that he does not reject everything the Boomer generation believes in. In fact, he persuades the readers about the importance of “the radical political lessons that Boomers left” and that millennials “have yet to learn”. He mentions humanism, which is typical for the older generation, “empathy for other humans and animals”, which hippies would call “love”.
As Spencer’s audience represents the millennials, it is important to mention that he claims how necessary it is for them not to “forget that love is crucial to any…movement”. The author guides his readers through the beliefs of the opposing generation, pointing out the importance of understanding their “rivals”.
As for the tone, it is, probably, one of the main aspects of this essay that immediately catches the reader’s attention. Spencer is changing his emotions as the narrative goes on. Close to the beginning of his work he is sarcastic, talking about the schedule at one of the free universities, established in the 1960-s. The author says “I can feel my internal millennial scoffing and rolling its eyes”. Analyzing the “subjects” that Boomers had at this facility, he could not help but point out, that none of those could prepare one for a hard life. Spencer states, “These activities have no economic benefit whatsoever: they won’t make you a better worker, a more versatile employee”. He adds that “they’re just means of bettering oneself, waxing poetic, and pondering the world”. The author is very skeptical about the schedule and the disciplines it offered.
He shows concern with his generation, however, as it has become practically desensitized to things. Spencer claims, “The fact that millennials have trouble connecting with hippie culture also explains to some extent why the humanities are dying”. As the obsession with money and monetizing everything has become a norm for the generation, the author states the obvious. He says “Millennial DIY and
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“maker” culture is all about innovation and thrift, means of making oneself more economically self-sufficient”. The author adds that the millennials have been taught that approach from a very early age and even with time they cannot let go of this behavioral model. As there has never been “a social safety net” for them, the millennials do not know how to live differently.
At the same time, Spencer shows empathy to a younger generation. When he came back to campus as a professor, he acknowledged the obvious differences between millennials and Generation Z. However, Spencer saw something they had in common. He understands what they are going through, stating “I very much relate to this feeling, for I, too, am scared”. The author is sympathetic towards the younger generation, comparing himself to them.
He states, he was consumed “with anxiety about school, work, debt, and networking: am I doing the right things to get my dream job?” Spencer also expresses fear for his generation, claiming that “a lack of love and an inability to perceive the world except in marketable terms will doom any left-progressive movement”. He adds that younger generations need to find alternatives to monetizing their existence, as otherwise, there will be no hope for the post-capitalist future.
The article convinces readers to think through the concepts of the modern generation’s behavior. He gives structure to how the Boomers and the millennials formed their behavioral patterns, and why both struggle to understand each other. Spencer manages to deliver the information in a way for the audience to see the world through the eyes of both generations and understand their perception of life. He speaks directly to the millennials and leaves readers thinking about possible changes that can be made for the sake of humanity. The author reminds his audience that empathy and love are crucial for people.