I don’t think the 1980s was the best decade of the last five.
What I do think is that the next decade will be the worst of the last six.
LiveScience reported this past week that in a recent poll, baby boomers were the most negative about the last decade, most sentimental toward the 1960s and 1970s, and most complimentary of the ‘80s.
LiveScience said baby boomers probably tended to look at their past “through rose-colored glasses.”
I’m a baby boomer, born in the middle of the generation, and I understand the tendency to treat the ‘60s with great nostalgia.
That decade had everything: a big war and an equally big peace movement, some remarkably charismatic and diabolical leaders, some of the greatest political activists and social movements ever seen in history, and turmoil, assassinations, technological innovations that culminated in the landing on the moon, outrageous pop stars, and of course, Woodstock.
If you lived through the ‘80s, about all you remember is “Reagan got shot and afterward told his wife, ‘I forgot to duck,’ and then he invaded this little country Grenada, which wasn’t a threat to anyone, and oh yeah, there was this Soviet leader, the last one, who had a big grape jelly-colored birthmark on his head.”
Probably, baby boomers thought the ‘80s was the best decade of the last five because it was the least memorable. Most political and social activism occurred elsewhere then that led to the Soviet Union’s collapse, and Americans, of course, say, “Oh, yeah, Reagan whipped communism single-handedly,” rather than give foreigners credit for straightening out problems in their own countries.
Don’t forget, God put us here to show the rest of the world how they’re supposed to live.
But here’s my theory about many baby boomers in the recent poll: Like most people, they tend to see everything from their perspective.
And let’s say they are mid-baby boomers: That means the ‘50s and early ‘60s are popular because those were the days of childhood for baby boomers like me. Unless they were child slaves in sweat shops, they have fond childhood memories.
In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s they were young adults, falling in love, starting careers. They were basically optimistic.
In the late ‘70s and ‘80s, they were having children and rearing them. Those are the best years of life for parents, when their children are small, obedient and lovable. That makes adults feel good about themselves, and those years bring back good memories, which is probably another reason many baby boomers see the ‘80s as good years.
In the 1990s, their children were teenagers. That tends to place a pall over everything.
By the 2000s, baby boomers’ children had left home, and those baby boomers didn’t know what to do with themselves. They were finally discovering the spouses they married, or some, like South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, were discovering soul mates, and wondering what their lives would have been like if they had married someone else, or took that job in Singapore or China years ago, or not punched a policeman in the face the night they got drunk and urinated in the street, or a million other things they decided or not decided to do that changed the courses of their lives.
That’s why the first decade of the 21st century was a downer for many baby boomers. Oh, the terrorist attacks were deplorable, Americans fought two wars and the global financial system neared collapse, but like Sanford, a lot of baby boomers were going through personal crises.
So why do I say the next decade will be even worse?
Well, if you’re a baby boomer like me, you’re getting old, cranky and irritable. The whole world is going to pot, we can’t figure out these new-fangled contraptions, and by God, we’re going to let the world know how bad things are getting.