by Laurianne McLaughlin

Gen Y and Boomers: Stop Whining and Save Ferris

Nov 21, 20074 mins

Gen Y’ers and Boomers, I say, in the words of the ever-sage Livia Soprano, “Poor you!” Get over yourselves.

The 80’s band Tears for Fears got it right: Everybody Wants to Rule the World. You Gen Y’ers are no different.  I’ve listened to your complaints, Gen Y’ers: Your bosses don’t “get” you, and worse, your bosses don’t get technology. I know: I’ve been trying to explain technology to some of them for 15 years. I’m a Gen X’er. We “middle children” in Gen X are working hard, pulling a heavy and unglamorous load, while you Gen Y’ers and Boomers slug it out about how fantastic, unappreciated, and misunderstood you are.  

Boomers, you complain incessantly about the “kids” at your office who’d rather use Blackberries than pick up the phone. I know the truth: Many of you go home and call your own kids to solve your latest tech problem. (In my family, we call this “free, unlimited tech support.”)

Every young generation finds bosses that aggravate them, and technology that frustrates them. Every older generation feels unappreciated and misrepresented at times. Face it, we all have to work together. 

This generational whine-fest is about as productive as watching “L.A. Law” re-runs.

Frankly, I’m tired of the complaining. My generation, X, honestly wasn’t allowed to complain.  

We worked our tails off just to get our first jobs in 1992, then worked those tails off right through the entire decade of the 90’s. We worked insanely hard, many of us, right through the Internet boom and the bust: traveling, selling, consulting, speaking, writing, coding, you name it. Some of us poured our hearts and souls into 12-to 14-hour days for startups that came painfully close to succeeding. Many of us lived through layoffs or big financial hits after 9/11, just when we were deciding that the clock was ticking and we’d better start a family.

And just when pop culture finally ditched Michael Jackson, we got stuck with Britney Spears invading every corner of the television and online universe. MTV, our junior high school best friend, lost its soul with the flip of a plaid skirt.  

For kids in our mid-30’s, we’ve been through a fair amount of “seasoning,” as you Boomers like to say.

And we’re not complaining about it. Neither are our employers. It made us practical, resourceful people. If you were a lucky Gen X’er, you even developed a wicked sense of humor along the way. 

You Gen Y’ers say you’re the masters of change and multitasking, but I have already proved that I can roll with the punches. Remember, I was raised on Charlie’s Angels. I can roll with plenty of punches.  

You Gen Y’ers haven’t finished your work, bounced a toddler on your hip, and started dinner inside of the same 20 minutes yet. This doesn’t make me better than you. You too will do this someday.  

Unlike Boomers, I haven’t had to fire a friend, send a child off to college, or listen to my employer tell me my whole group is being outsourced. This too may happen to me someday.

Luckily for you guys, I can appreciate both realities. I know how to get along with people who are 21 or 66. 

And, honestly, if you Gen Y’ers and Boomers keep up the bickering, it may be great news for my career. I may be hailed in the next few years as the great facilitator and communicator in business, bringing you two groups together, before you Boomers disappear with all that institutional knowledge.

So you wanna bicker? Go ahead.  

But quit your whining. Everybody loves Ferris Bueller. Nobody loves his whiny sister.