An Ode to Baby Boomers

Barney Zwartz writes about new stats from McCrindle about the behaviours of our beloved boomer generation for CPX's Thinking Out Loud.

As a baby boomer, I instinctively know that we are the noblest generation – apart from the one before us, and the one before that, who coped with a World War and a Depression.

Boomers, as epitomised by me, are patient, kind, generous, tolerant and only slightly deluded – though please confirm that with my dog rather than my wife. But I was delighted, nonetheless, to have my bias – err, perception – confirmed by McCrindle research that found boomers are far politer in everyday encounters.

For example, McCrindle found, nine in 10 boomers (born 1946-65) wave to another driver who lets them merge into traffic, compared with 78% for Gen X (1965-79) and 71% for Gen Y (1980-94).

Boomers return shopping trolleys – 92%, compared with 78% for Gen X and 80% for Gen Y – and reply to invitations at 82%, compared with 67% for Gen X and 72% for Gen Y. 61% of boomers avoid swearing in conversation, while only 49% and 45% of the potty-mouthed Gen X and Y do that.

In another survey, McCrindle found that boomers are far more likely to remove their earphones when someone talks to them, put their phones away when catching up or dining out with someone, and to reply to a text. Nor do they require a warning text before someone rings them.

“Manners maketh man” is a 14th century proverb – apparently the motto of William of Wykeham; it is also attributed to a 15th century headmaster of Eton. “Man” alliterates nicely, but women should not feel excluded.

I don’t mean to suggest at all that Boomers are better people – we’re all flawed – but politeness is valuable. It is social glue that keeps us civilised when situations try us – a minor but important application of Jesus’ golden rule, do as you would be done by.

This column first appeared on CPX’s Facebook.

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