Division grows between millennials and baby boomers


Bailey Horlander

Graphic by Bailey Horlander.

Some of the worst feelings a human can experience involve being ignored or misunderstood

The United States is currently experiencing a time of multiple internal divisions rooted in race, gender, and perhaps the most overlooked, generational differences.

My fellow millennials sometimes sense that our values and the issues we deem important are ignored by older Americans. Likewise, baby boomers often assume that millennials are not interested in the struggles younger Americans face. Both groups feel ignored and misunderstood.

Michael North of QZ writes, “America’s social contract has long held that you get taken care of when you’re young, you pay your dues as an adult, and then society takes care of you when you’re old. But this cycle, so essential to the functioning of our nation, is breaking down. Instead of working to fix it, young and old appear further apart than ever.”

Although millennials and baby boomers have a mutual desire for wealth through steady income streams and Social Security paybacks later in life, there are few other issues on which they share common ground. The polarization is more extreme than at any other point in history.

“It wasn’t always like this,” North writes. “In the 1976 presidential election, America’s oldest and youngest voting brackets were a mere 2 percent apart.”

North argues that if only those over 65 had voted, Donald Trump would have won in a landslide. If only those under 29 had voted, then Hillary Clinton would have won in a complete Electoral College shutout.

Both sides are feeling isolated. The gap in wealth creates tension among millennials who see the large disparity, but boomers cling to their wealth because of a psychological determination to avoid the poverty that used to define older Americans.

U.S. media have contributed to the great generational divide. People ages 60 and over place more trust in Fox News, while those under 30 devote their attention to MSNBC, but neither are consistently reliable news sources.

If the current trend continues, we may start to feel as if we are living in two different Americas. The future ahead is grim.

Accuracy in media coverage would be a start. Clearly, though, there is much more work to be done than just reforming the media. Baby boomers and millennials need to start listening to each other.