Sunday 10 November 2019

“OK, Gen Zedder”

From “‘OK, Boomer’, Gen Z’s sassy dig at old-timers…”
Call it an eye-roll from the “snowflakes” to the old-timers they blame for climate change and student debt. “OK boomer” is the new rallying cry for Generation Z, and the meme-friendly put-down is suddenly everywhere.
“The reason it’s resonating so well with Gen Z kids right now is that it’s such a simple, short response, and it’s not aggressive,” said Nina Kasman, who sells “OK boomer” goods on website
“It’s passive. It means I’m not going to give you a full response because we know boomers haven’t been listening to full explanations anyway,” the 18-year-old student said.
“OK boomer” has become the retort of choice for Gen Z kids, or zoomers, exasperated with the views of their elders – and a potent resistance at those who dismiss today’s youth as easily offended “snowflakes”.
Let’s look at some of their gripes against we “old-timers”.

First up, climate change. I accept that it’s human-caused or substantially so. That our emissions of carbon dioxide and methane (via cattle) are primary causes.
To be fair to we Boomers, in the immediate aftermath World War II all we thought about was rebuilding: our lives and our cities. No one knew about let alone worried about, carbon dioxide.  “Co2”?  Isn’t that the stuff we breathe out?
The brilliant mind of the late Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, Rising Sun, Airframe, etc) imagines New Yorkers in 1900 trying to predict what New Yorkers in 2000 would have to worry about. He guessed they would wonder “where will they get all the horses they need?” and “what will they do with all the horseshit?” (They were already knee-deep in the stuff in 19th century New York).
By the sixties, if we were worried at all, it was about food shortages. The Club of Rome predicted worldwide famines. They published their apocalyptic report just before the Green Revolution kicked in. Not “green” in today’s sense, but green in terms of massive increases in yields of staples such as rice. Famines became history (eventually).
More: by the seventies, if there was a concern it was about global freezing, not warming! That’s almost unimaginable to Gen Zedders, but it was so, and the predicted dangers were far more dire than the current predicted warming.
Meantime the Greens — Boomer Greens, that is — via militant groups like Greenpeace, demonised the one technology that would have kept Co2 in check — large-scale nuclear. Were it not for the Greens of the seventies, we would have double or triple the current 420 reactors and far less Co2 in the atmosphere. Those greenies were Boomers too. So let’s not say that Boomers ignored climate change. Just that the signals from the climate were mixed and solutions debatable — to say the least. (They remain so, despite the certitudes of Extinction Rebellion and the like).
As for student debt. Granted it’s a problem. Though more for America than Australia where we have a fairer repayment system based on a maximum percentage of income.
When I went to Uni in the early seventies I got a Teachers Scholarship which must have been pretty easy if even I got one and I certainly didn’t have a brilliant High school result. Repayment of whatever loan that involved  was so easy I can’t even remember it. So, sure, it’s tougher today.
But a few points.  One is that fees have gone up substantially (especially in the US), much more than inflation and that’s due to increasing staff numbers at universities. Not reaching staff, mind, but administrative. Many of them are there to administer increasing staff posts in areas like Social Justice, Diversity and Equity. All prompted and beloved by Millennials and Gen Zedders.
Second, the proliferation of useless degrees, “Gender Studies” and the like. No one owes you a job no matter how bizarre your study. Graduates in these “disciplines” end up unemployable except, if they’re lucky, back in the academy as untenured “adjunct tutors”.  And on goes the cycle, more of this nonsense. Society ought be encouraging more vocationally-focussed tertiary education, as they do in Germany, in which case any debt can more easily be served.
Third, despite all this, the number of people doing tertiary studies has increased in every developed economy. So, there’s that…
My Boomer put-down: OK, Gen Zedders, stop whining!  Read some Prof Steven Pinker. Sure, he’s a Boomer, but liberal progressive and in their side. All up, things have got better, Zedders, and you live in extraordinary times. Take advantage of it rather than hurling nasturtiums.