When did mockery become an accepted standard of behavior?
When I was a young woman, both my grandmothers wore little cotton housedresses and soft leather shoes. If they wore hosiery at all it was when they attended Sunday church services; most of the time, their veined legs, evidence of their years of childbearing and hard work, were bare.
It never occurred to me to question or mock their “style” choices. They were elderly women, wearing what they found comfortable. That I didn’t find their clothing attractive or fashionable was not an issue; I respected them. They’d lived through world wars and Spanish Flu; through the Great Depression and Richard Nixon and innumerable personal disasters, both of them surviving it all with an intact sense of humor. They deserved the right to dress and do as they pleased, without criticism.
Turn the world a few thousand times on its axis: I am now the old woman. But the world has turned; respectful behavior towards one’s elders is no longer a given. Those who have spent lifetimes working, paying their taxes, raising their young to adulthood and funding their educations, possibly doing military service, and generally being upright citizens and decent human beings are all too often the subject of contempt and impudence, with never this behavior more rampant than on the Net.
So it was with a sense of both trepidation and scorn that I have, a few times recently, tapped on one of those “about Boomers” clickbaits. (Oddly, I have never seen a corresponding clickbait about Millennials, or Gens X/Y/Z—or, again, perhaps not odd, since they are the people writing this ludicrous material. Their time will come, though.)
I have to admit, a few, if not more, of the “OMG! They do/dress/eat/behave” complaints were spot on for me—guilty as charged, and not in the least regretful to admit it. I do, for instance, still write in cursive rather than “normal” writing. I shall continue to eschew the kindergarten printing and write as an adult, too. So sorry you’re not educated enough to read it, youngsters. Tell me, how do you read the signatures at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence, hmmmm?
In the most recent clickbait I so masochistically read, though, no fewer than half the remarks were geared toward clothing choices. Virtually none of them applied to me, and the rest, well, my automatic response was, “Who cares?! Why is this non-issue even being remarked upon?” Yes, I do find white socks with sandals to be rather an odd choice (if your feet are cold or you don’t like the feeling of sand, don’t wear the sandals), but it’s not really any of my business. It’s their feet, after all.
Footwear seemed to occupy the minds of the younger generation to an excessive degree. But then, those who have stood upon their own metatarsals for only perhaps 25 to 30 years are probably unaware of the extraordinary pressure their bodies are exerting on that support system. Given twice or more that length of time, they, too, will find that their footwear choices extend to comfort, not fashion, and that arthritic fingers find Velcro tabs so much easier to manipulate than laces.
The funniest entries regarded food, the most hilarious of which was, “They eat TOAST”. Apparently, it did not occur to the youthful writers that their alternate breakfast suggestions–waffles, for instance–have also been available to those of my generation throughout our own and our parents’ and grandparents’, ad infinitum, lifetimes. Toast is quick and easy to prepare, lends itself to an infinite variety of toppings, and is an excellent way to use up stale bread, not to mention tasty. Why on earth do these blockheaded kids think it was invented, after all?
Another remark that sent me into gales of laughter was the complaint about Boomers buying their bread off the grocery shelves when “artisanal bread” was so much more delicious and enticing. There speaks a person who is not yet a parent with three hungry kids needing sandwiches slapped together as quickly and inexpensively as possible! Granted, I gave up spongy white Wonder bread along with my early childhood, but I’d like to see the average financially struggling parent try to fund “artisanal bread” enough for a houseful of famished children wanting lunch.
The clickbait criticized hairstyles, vacation choices (face it, kids, the reason some Boomers choose cruises is because, unlike your frenzied, financially precarious existence, they have the time and the money. Jealous, much?) and countless other petty, ludicrous minutiae until I finally grew tired of waiting for all the ads to finish loading before I could click “Next” and exited the link.
But, in the end, I wasn’t left laughing, but with a sense of discouragement. Why, I wondered, did any of this even matter? Who were these individuals, the writers who took such glee in contempt and disdain, in derision and scorn, of other people? Is the fate of our future world truly being placed in such pettish hands?
Sighing now, I think I will close this essay. It’s time for breakfast, so I shall wander downstairs and pull the last two slices of non-artisanal oatmeal bread from the frig, where I will pop them into the toaster, and then smother them, perhaps with butter and blackberry jelly, or cream cheese and raspberry jam, or cinnamon sugar….
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like “Mindless Headlines”, which you can locate in the Archives, published June 5, 2018.