Is the Baby Boomer generation being romanticized? This is a question I've been asking myself for awhile now. Take a careful look at how the media represents this generation. Typically, you will see an attractive, slim, silver haired couple strolling on the beach, pant legs rolled up, hand in hand or on a river cruise on the Danube. This stereotype could represent an ad for cholesterol lowering agents, but it also is how we, as a society want to envision the Baby Boomer generation.
Does this really represent this generation? Is this a truthful representation of this generation?
The reality is that the income for the average couple over the age of 65 is below $50,000. Not much running hand in hand on the beach on that income. They are working longer and playing less. Working longer is a matter of choice for many, but for just as many, it is a necessity. The dream of a destination retirement is not realistic for most individuals of this generation. Out of need, most retirees are now staying where their families are and where their support system is.
Most members of this generation just do not have the look that is perpetuated by the media. They are struggling to keep or get healthy. That struggle is sometimes met with medical and physical and medical insurance limitations. This generation is a generation of workers. They have worked hard for decades and this has taken a toll on both their physical and mental stability. While we are shown 70 year-olds running marathons and having a leisurely golf game we do not see the 70-year-old who is tired and struggling to keep his job because his wife is ill. He doesn't have a mane of shiny silver, he has a receding hairline that bothers him daily.
Is it too hard to for us to accept the reality of this generation? Many are raising grandchildren, upside down on the house they bought when prices were high, unable to get the medical care they need due to Medicare limitations. The ones whose 401k was obliterated not so long ago. We are shown the romanticized version of what we would like to see. We would like to see them traveling on river cruises down the Danube and walking on the beach.
Social Security is the most common source of income for retirees and they are thankful for it. Oddly enough, they do not feel entitled but feel thankful for funds that they actually contributed, being paid back to them. They are sometimes reluctant to receive senior discounts. They are not an entitled generation.
Is this generation being romanticized? Yes. The Romanticization of Baby Boomers has occurred because they are the last generation who remember what it was really like before social networking, cell phones and computers. From the fabulous 50s to the 2000s, they have lived through all of the changes that have made the world such a small planet. They deserve to be shown the respect of the realities instead of the perception that the lives of individuals in this generation is just a walk on the beach.