Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Demographics of Disdain

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

Twitter can be a rough-and-tumble place. People have opinions and most do not hesitate to share them. I don’t claim innocence and I do recognize that nuance is often lost with 140 characters.

But what is it with the grand sweeping condemnations?

Grand sweeping condemnations –– that’s my term for when people choose a demographic characteristic common to a large and otherwise diverse group — and accuse all of being guilty of some shared sin. In my Twitter timeline white men and baby boomers are common targets. It will be different for you depending on who you follow — and who you unfollow. Damn right I’ve unfollowed people for excessive GSCs.

(Yes, #notAllMen is either a legitimate dissent or an ironic comment. Hard to be sure in all cases.)

I don’t understand the logic of GSCs. What do people expect to gain by using them? Shore up the perceived tribe by casting disdain on others? Maybe.

As a baby boomer, it’s hard not to notice how the baby-boomer hate routine has become increasingly common. Otherwise fine folk who would not for a moment consider themselves bigots are happy to play this game. No big deal if you want to insult me. I know how to unfollow.

In the abstract though, when baby boomers are held up as the worst generation, reprehensible in all aspects and particularly in their regard for the environment, I get offended on behalf of people like my husband.

Ron devoted his career to Haleakala National Park. He worked long hours for limited compensation because it was his goal to protect the park’s unique and fragile natural areas from the ravages of invasive species, and when he retired from the park service he left those wilderness areas in a far healthier condition than they’d been when he started. The ecological recovery has been amazing.

In essence, Ron picked one place in the wide world and poured his heart and soul into making it better. That might be a strategy to consider, for those of you who want to point fingers at his generation. Better to act, do something, than to accuse and complain and alienate those who actually have contributed to the betterment of the world.

And one more bit of motherly advice from the old lady: Don’t determine your tribe by simplistic demographic dividers. There is more diversity in any group than many of us care to admit. Yes, even those heinous baby boomers.

Here are four baby boomers, celebrating the completion of a fence to keep feral goats and pigs out of Maui’s amazing national park:

Left to right: Ross Hart, Ron Nagata, Mike Ing, Ted Rodrigues
photo credit: Dallas Nagata White