Father, I Cannot Click the Book: Baby Boomers, Millennials, and the “Lost Habit” of Reading

The younger generation. Can you believe them? They don’t even know what a book is. These Millennial snowflakes will see a goddamn book—paper of glorious smell and touch and taste—and they will try to click the book.

Father, I cannot click the book, they likely say, looking utterly bewildered at this ye olde extinct relic of the olden days.

Is it an iPad? Where is a joystick? Where are the pocket monster creatures? What do I plug it into? Where do the batteries go? How do I turn it on?

The wisened member of the Older Generation knows better. They grew up with the three R’s—reading, riting and rithmetic—so obviously this repository of wisdom and genius and pure big brained 1000 IQ knowledge, will be able to point the dumb, gadgets ‘n gizmos obsessed child in the right direction. After all, absolutely no child has read a book since I was a child. Get off my lawn!

whatisbook_ReadOnlyOneBook

Which book? the Younger Generationer may ask.

Pah! This is infallible proof that this Pokemon creature-loving beast of pure, blithering idiocy does not even comprehend the mere notion of a physical book.

Ebook? More like a fictional gizmo whatchamacallit produced by the minds of 30-something young ‘uns to pretend you can read a book in electronic form. Amazon. Project Gutenberg. Sounds like a bunch of old nonsense. Everybody knows that these newfangled gadgets only exist to catch the Pikachus and stare at a screen full of emojis and text-speak mimicry that is FaceSpace and whatever the kidadults are using nowadays.

If you’re reading through this and are nodding in agreement, laughing at those “silly kids”, there’s a bit of a problem.

Perhaps take a second to think of the extreme generalisations and clichés of the terrible youth that I have employed here, much like the comics at the beginning of this blog post, typically known as “Boomer humour.”

Ever since the beginning of human civilisation, and reported as early as the days of Ancient philosophers, there has been a divide between what is considered the “younger” and “older” generations. In Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, Auguste van Pels laments her son Peter, saying, “That’s what you get with a modern upbringing, modern children. I’d never have grabbed my mother like that”.

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

Socrates

The current divide involving “Boomers” and “millennials”, in fact, started with a completely different generation. The Baby Boomers (1945-64) were infuriated at their rebellious children, the “youth”, when they became respectable adults: Generation X (1965-81). Baby Boomers were the hippies, the ones protesting the Vietnam War, and their parents loathed their hippy rebelliousness. So many of these Baby Boomers let out their frustrations about their parents, out at the next generation, whom they perceived as materialistic; the Me, Me generation, simply because that’s what their parents had called them, and they were reflecting inadequacies. But Generation X grew up and became adults. But the Baby Boomers, as many of us are apt to be, assumed anyone younger than them were all the same generation. Admitting there are multiple generations younger than you is admitting the passing of time and ageing. But the Millennials (1982-1995), Generation Z (1996-2010), and Alphas (2011-?) came along. Around the mid- to endpoint of Millennials, technology became more commonplace in our lives. By this point, the Baby Boomers saw everyone younger than them as “Millennials”, a catchall term for teenagers, even though not a single Millennial in 2020 is a teenager.

What does this have to do with the dang Younger Generation confusing a physical book with a FaceSpace device? In order to distract us, arbitrary generations were “created” by marketing researchers, in order to sell us more products. It created a new divide; neatly placing us into little boxes and telling us how to behave based on that. The passé meme, Ok boomer, is a perfect example. Ok Boomer was created as a way to dismiss the Older Generations, the same way Baby Boomers dismiss anyone under 40 as “the Younger Generation”. It mocked those considered old-fashioned and out-of-touch, even if said person is not a Baby Boomer. It was a quick, witty response to the bullshit categorisation of humans by arbitrary labels that many Baby Boomers fell for.

Technology moves fast, and meme culture even faster. Baby Boomers on Facebook were mocking the “youth” for eating Tide Pods and playing Pokemon Go long after said generations had forgotten about it and moved onto newer and more plentiful memes. A lot of people get left behind when technology moves at the quickfire speed it currently is at. Mocking the Youth for not grasping what a book is, is a way to get back at that. To feel in control again. Lol these kids think they know all about gadgets and gizmos, but I bet they don’t know what a book or cursive writing is! Not so smart after all!

This is the wrong way to go about things. Any cursory research and you’ll discover children and young adults still read. Children’s literature and Young Adult are genres that have only increased in popularity as time goes by. There is no difference between reading a physical book, ebook or audiobook—all are valid forms of reading. Those under forty are avid readers, writers, authors and bibliophiles. Reading is a valid form of entertainment, just as using a “device” is a valid form of entertainment. To criticise those who use technology and the internet, when in this current day and age, the internet has the widest repository of information, so much information we can barely even begin to comprehend it, then don’t you just sound a little silly?

Stop gatekeeping books and reading. If you truly believe that the youth aren’t reading, why would mockery and teasing encourage them to read? We should not be gatekeeping literature. Just 100 years ago, reading was considered the fool’s entertainment: in Anne of Green Gables, Diana Barry was criticized by her mother for reading; being “out-of-doors” was the respectable option. Why can we not just enjoy both old and new entertainment? Things are not so simple in real life; where entertainment can be simply placed into neat little “good” and “bad” boxes.

Furthermore, why not just ignore the neat little check-boxes of generations?

Just pick up a book, like “your parents” allegedly did, and get lost in its world. Enjoy books for what they are. We don’t need to tear others down to feel better about ourselves. Just read.

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