Baby Boomers: Four Popular Myths and One Great Truth
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Guest Post by Kay Strom
Yeah, yeah, I know. You’ve heard just about everything there is to hear regarding baby boomers, the generation that flooded America with 77 million babies between 1946 and 1964. You know all about Woodstock and flower children and peace marches.
Then again, maybe you haven’t heard everything. Some surprising facts lay hidden within those old boomer myths. Consider:
Myth: The “me” generation only cares about itself.
The “me generation”—now there’s a tag that’s stuck. Strange, too, since boomers are particularly united in their social awareness and concern for both their country and the world. In a 2008 report from the AARP, a full 70 percent say they feel a responsibility to make the world a better place. And that’s not just boomer talk, either. Their generation has a solid history of recognizing social needs in this country. (Look at the progress in civil rights.) Boomers have also shown that they care about the world. (Consider the effectiveness of the Peace Corps.) In ways sometimes wise and sometimes wild, baby boomers have shown they can walk their talk.
Myth: Boomers Are Technologically Inept.
It’s true that the world has changed more quickly and more drastically during the boomers’ lifetime than during any generation before them. When the oldest were born, almost no one had a home television. How can a generation with such prehistoric roots be expected to keep up with the lightning-speed development of technological gadgets?
Expected or not, that same AARP study reported that 82 percent of boomer respondents use the internet. And not just for casual email, either. Many do complex research, download movies and music, take full advantage of digital photography, and use a whole array of digital equipment. To the horror of their children and grandchildren, they’ve all but taken over Facebook!
Myth: Baby Boomers Are Rich, Rich, Rich…
Boomers are indeed the wealthiest generation in history, but they are hardly rich. In fact, one quarter have no savings at all. And most cannot count on retirement benefits to offer much help, either. Some boomers think they have more than they actually do—as many sadly discovered during last year’s financial free-fall.
Myth: Boomers Will Retire En Masse.
That huge generation will spend their days luxuriating on the golf course, this myth insists, supported by handouts from the government and a hefty chunk out of young workers’ paychecks. Don’t count on it! According to “The New Retirement Study” conducted by Merrill Lynch in 2007, a mere one boomer in ten plans to stop working at retirement age. Many are already working at second careers. Many others are helping out in a wide variety of capacities as volunteers, both in the US and abroad.
… And One Great Truth
More than ever, baby boomers are recognizing the truth that significance is found beyond themselves. The generation that determined to change the world is eager to get on with it—only now they come armed with experience and skills and maturity, and time and resources, too.
“If we boomers decide to use our retirement to change the world,” wrote Nicholas D. Kristof, Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times (July 2008), “our dodderdom will have consequences for society every bit as profound as our youth did.”
Kay Marshall Strom has written thirty-six published books, numerous magazine articles, and two screenplays. Four of her books have been chosen as book club selections, eleven have been translated into foreign languages, and one was optioned for a movie. Her writing is also included in numerous volumes and compilations, including the bestselling Conversations on Purpose for Women (Zondervan 2005) and various editions of the NIV Devotional Bibles. Her most recent book is The Second-Half Adventure: Don’t Just Retire-Use Your Time, Skills, and Resources to Change the World.
In addition to her writing, Kay taught writing classes through the California State University system for ten years, and still teaches at writers conferences around the country. In 2008, she was invited to India to teach writing in order to give a voice to those not normally heard.
A sought-after speaker, Kay is in demand for retreats and special events throughout the US and around the world.
Kay and her husband Dan Kline make their home in the Pacific Northwest.
You can visit her website at www.kaystrom.com.
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