OUT TO LUNCH
Researchers and demographers delight in lumping together entire generations, giving them a tag and attaching characteristics to them. I thought this all started with the Baby Boomer generation but, thanks to a bit of research on Google, it goes right back to pre 1900 with the Lost Generation. There never seems to be absolute agreement on dates but it’s generally agreed that the Lost Generation were born between 1883 and 1900 and would then have been exposed in early and middle adulthood to the horrors of the First World War and its aftermath.
Many of the menfolk would have lost their lives in that war and it was the author Gertrude Stein who popularized the expression to describe the sense of utter hopelessness and disillusion that followed the end of the war in 1918.
Following the Lost Generation you have the modestly named Greatest Generation (also known as the GI Generation) for those born between 1900 and 1927. Having bounced back from WW1 they then had to cope with the Great Depression and then World War 2. This was my parent’s generation and cope they did, rebuilding their lives uncomplainingly and eventually enjoying greater prosperity in their middle age.
The Silent Generation follows the Greatest Generation and members of that cohort were born between 1927 and 1945. Time magazine first used the term “silent generation” in 1951and it appears to reference the political repression experienced in the US under Senator Joseph McCarthy in his relentless hunt for closet communists in the movie industry. It may also have referenced the WW2 message that “careless talk costs lives”. Whatever the influence, it was generally regarded as a generation that felt it was dangerous to speak out on any topic for fear of reprisal.
Then came the Baby Boomers of which I am a grateful member. Never exposed to a war and brought up in a time of growing prosperity we were born between 1945 and 1964. We could just as aptly be named the Lucky Bastard Generation because life has indeed been sweet for most of us. Our schooldays never involved being stabbed by fellow pupils.
Our universities handed out degrees that were recognized by future employers and nobody went around throwing human excrement at statues. Employment was easy to come by and we were probably the first generation to discover job hopping.
My father gave me a strict talking to when I left one company after three years for a substantially higher salary at a rival. “Be careful my boy” he said, “you’ll get a reputation for unreliability”. He meant well but he spent his entire working life with one company because he was so grateful to find a good job after the end of WW2. By 1977 the rules had changed and the way to improve your lot in life was to apply for a new job or, better still, get headhunted. It is a source of great pride to me that I have never had to provide a CV before landing a job.
Apart from the economic advantages the other great benefit of being born as a Baby Boomer was that we grew up during the golden age of “popular music”. The fact that the Rolling Stones are still touring after 50 years bears testament to that. My twenty something nephew in the UK who plays guitar professionally grew up listening and learning from the likes of Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Richie Blackmore. He still regards them as rock guitar gods.
Of course, such abundant good fortune was bound to rankle with those who came after and the less fortunate Generation Xers (significant that they don’t even warrant a label?) born between 1965 and 1980 and Generation Yers (aka Millenials) born between 1981 and 1996 are forever complaining that their parent’s selfish Baby Boomer generation have made life more difficult for them.
For example, by inventing so many labour saving devices and introducing robotics to manufacturing they have made all sorts of jobs redundant. On the bright side they have invented Smart phones for Millenials to stare at all day and take their minds off being unemployed.
Then there’s the property issue. It’s not even debatable that Baby Boomers have benefited hugely from rising property prices. In London in the 1980’s it was all they could talk about. You went to dinner with friends in Putney and they couldn’t wait to tell you how much their house had gone up in value between the avocado Ritz and the crème brulee dessert. Even here on the southern tip of the dark continent we have seen huge increases in property values. But that’s life and since very few of us have a hope in hell of selling our properties in the current economic climate it all becomes academic.
Now it’s time to name a new sub-group generation category and I may have to break with the rules here and include those born from 1980 on. Extensive research on social media and a thorough reading of the digital news offerings, both local and international, reveal a large cohort who could best be described as the “Diddums generation”. These are the crybabies who manage to summon instant outrage at the slightest thing.
Even an inanimate object like a flag can apparently bring them out in hives and cause them to hyperventilate. Afflicted from a young age by chronic allodoxaphobia, they find opinions contrary to their own as life threatening as daylight is to a vampire. Keen to attend university for as long as possible provided somebody else pays they look forward eagerly to banning and de-platforming any visiting lecturer who might challenge their rather puritanical world view or expand their understanding of this complex world.
The “Diddums generation” demand that the rest of society give them a metaphorical dummy when they’re upset (which is mostly). They find all sorts of perfectly normal things upsetting and, like most spoilt five year olds, will stand in the middle of the road screaming their little heads off until somebody says “there, there diddums. Did the nasty former premier of the Western Cape make you cry?” Then, wiping a tear from their angry little faces and clutching a one day old chick they retire to their safe spaces to work up the energy for their next tantrum.
The Diddums have a limited vocabulary and an even more limited imagination. Anyone who disagrees with them is automatically a “racist” a “Nazi” a “fascist”, a member of the “alt-right” and probably also a homophobe, a rape apologist and a misogynist just for good measure. Diddums describe things they don’t like very much as “problematic” which is a word designed to give the impression that they have actually thought about something. So, for example, any opposition to the proposed NHI from toxic white male doctors would automatically be “problematic”.
Hate speech, cultural appropriation, transgender rights and white privilege are all examples of the “wokeness” that the Diddums like to display to demonstrate their superiority to the rest of the human race. Thus, a doctor refusing to address a 60 year old bearded man as Madam just because said man has decided to identify as a womxn (sic) is “problematic” and, obviously, the doctor must be sacked; as indeed he was.
The term “virtue signaling” was coined by a columnist in that Nazi publication The Spectator and it’s a term that the woke Diddums find problematic, probably because it exposes the narcissistic nature of many of their actions. With the Diddums it’s all about them and they would no more think of marching for LGBTQIA rights in a strictly Muslim country than they would give a rat’s arse about human rights abuses in places like North Korea.
About the only tangible benefit the Diddums give back to society is their concern for the planet, even if it is based on dodgy science. Many of them are convinced Earth has only has twelve more years before everything expires thanks to our collective carbon footprint. For this reason they are refusing to fly and contribute further to the problem. This is great news because it’s going to make flights to holiday destinations far more pleasant for the rest of us. Given a Diddums or a crying baby in economy class on a ten hour flight I’ll take the crying baby any day.