The truth about boomer opinions
Maybe it’s fun, for a moment, to play boomer and embrace your curmudgeonly side.
I try to avoid the generational mudslinging that fuels the culture wars. Reducing everything to a date of birth ignores the real problems causing division in society. At the risk of catching strays and bleeding out in the middle of somebody else’s battle, however, I was lured in by a tweet circulating this week that asked users for their most ‘boomer’ opinions.
For the greener bananas among you, a boomer opinion is a complaint, by an old person, suggesting a perceived breakdown of society – bad manners a popular bête-noire – or is a take that makes a fuss for the sheer hell of it, an attention grab or frustration at the world’s red carpet no longer unfurling at their feet.
It’s not entirely surprising that older generations’ complaints are routinely dismissed. Save for the odd aberration, like Maggie Smith clutching a Loewe handbag in what looks like Harold Steptoe’s back kitchen, popular culture celebrates and prioritises the young. When I was young, despite only ever lurking on the Siberian fringes of cool and popular, I revelled in this. Additionally, the boomer generation are decried as selfish, sitting pretty in the huge homes they bought in 1983 for the price of a wagyu burger, hoarding the world’s wealth and hurriedly pulling the ladder up after them. (Anecdotal, of course, but I don’t know any boomers like this – these generational conflicts come from the middle classes dominating the conversation and ignoring the more pressing needs of the less fortunate. ’Twas ever thus.) There’s also the small matter that les plus âgés are adept at demonising themselves, in poisonous newspaper columns or through terrifying bigotry at the dinner table – yet neither are exclusive to the silver-haired mob. What we label a boomer complaint is often a reasonable grievance that anyone of any age can express, but as complaining is viewed as petty, needlessly disruptive, and unsexy, we feel obliged to other it and distance ourselves from it, inciting generational warfare.
Regardless, maybe it’s fun, for a moment, to play boomer and escape the prison of enforced joy and perma-wonderment at everything. Confessing that, sometimes, things are sh•t and expressing your dissatisfaction is preferable to internalising it and corroding your spirit. Maybe if we spout forth with our gripes – so long as they’re not bigoted or insensitive – then by the time we do become life’s village elders, we won’t be quite so bitter and frustrated. Despite floating in the youthful chemtrails of Gen X, I can instinctively identify several ‘boomer opinions’ of my own.
So I thought I’d give it a go. A few cries in the dark, shouting into the heart of the void. Vent! Avenge! Have a nice sit down!
Cycling through red lights is bad, actually
The quaint Green Cross Code road safety adverts of the 1980s prepared me only for slow-moving Ford Escorts, and ice cream vans, not Just Eat delivery bikers and neon Lycra middle managers Evel Knieveling through red lights like they’re being chased by Nadine Dorries in an AlphaTauri AT04. As a part-time cyclist, I too am guilty of treating the Highway Code as more of a serving suggestion than a set of commandments, but I know enough of its hallowed text to understand that ploughing through pedestrians might get someone killed.
Alexas and Google Assistants are creepy and weird
Three rooms in my house carry a voice-operated virtual assistant. I seldom engage with them, other than setting timers for covid tests, keeping an eye on oven chips, or streaming music to them. Unless I need to turn on the lamp in the living room, which often leads to me calling it a very bad word. Applicances shouldn’t speak back to you. They get everything wrong anyway – on the rare occasions I’ve asked the Google Assistant to play, say, a Madonna song, it will almost certainly reply with a recipe for cinder toffee or audio of traffic on the Hanger Lane gyratory.
Ordering food on a touch screen is dystopian
I don’t have much call for McDonald’s these days, but my uncoupling from the golden arches was hastened by the introduction of touch screens at the vast majority of their outlets. It’s sold to punters as ‘quicker’. Bollocks. Take it from someone who’s worked there: there’s no way a customer scrolling endlessly on a giant defanged iPad then standing, miserable, glued to another screen as their order number glacially ascends the pecking order can compare with the whip-cracking hustle of an A-level student fuelled by Red Bull, prescribed topical solution for acne vulgaris, and a general contempt for anyone who picks a Hot Wheels Happy Meal over a Barbie one. If I’m ordering a quarter pounder calorie bomb at 11:58pm on a Wednesday, I want to be served by someone whose stare can shame me to dust, not a hot-wired Speak & Spell.
Chairs should have a back
My heart plummets faster than the ear-popping elevator in the BT Tower when I walk into a bar or restaurant to find the seating is backless. Tiny tuffets to perch on. Beanbags. Iron-legged stools that scrape the floor as you try to mount them without toppling over. I don’t want to sit hunched over, my arse crack headlining a matinee showing for anyone sitting behind. Will my spine ever un-banana itself? Who knows?! I want a chair. With a cushion, preferably. I want to sit graceful as a cat nestling on the head of a pin, gazing out at society with imperious contentment.
No FaceTiming on the bus
It is totally unreasonable to expect people not to talk on public transport. Yet somehow it’s the aural equivalent of realising, once you have your shoes on and tied, that there are corn flakes in your socks.
The hierarchy of annoying conversations on public transport, from bad to worst:
1. Couple having an argument😠
2. People talking generally, but at Glastonbury volume, because they find their own piddling dramas fascinating, and assume everyone else will too😤
3. Someone on a mobile phone call 😡
4. Someone having a video call on speaker 🤬
1–3, polite society has accepted, and I can pretty much tune them out – leaving the house with headphones welded to my face also helps – but why is 4 so much more irritating than the others? The constant drops in connection. The inanity of the content. The looming moon face of the call recipient in the phone screen. Most likely it’s the realisation this person gives zero f•cks about you. That’s what stings most, especially if you have, as a former effeminate child, spent most of your life trying not to stand out or upset anyone in case it leads to violence. These b•stards are wielding their privilege in a public place.
WhatsApp makes everything harder
The dreaded group chat, where the domineering, the terminally organised, and the congenitally flaky convene to do battle over several months to arrange one solitary night at the pub. I do not miss the era before phones but I appreciate the no-nonsense approach necessitated by a lack of technology. Before everyone treated spare time like currency and diarised every waking moment, plans were concrete – made and set quickly. If somebody stood you up, they were tried and convicted of being a feckless B•STARD and banished for ever – now a quick no-show alert on WhatsApp fifteen minutes before curtain up is deemed acceptable. Not on my watch!