Happy new year and happy new decade! I hope you got some break over the break and that you have returned to campus with energy and excitement for the new semester. I am excited to see you again and to start working together in this new year. Any time we come together -- whether in class, at an OHDCC event, during a TC coffee break, or chatting in the halls -- I feel more hopeful about our shared world, even amidst what feels like incessant calls for division among us. In an exchange with my younger son over the break, I was frustratingly reminded of yet another way we engage in "us" and "them" these days.
Me: "Will you sign me in to our Netflix account, I can't remember the password."
My 13-year-old: "Okay, boomer."
Me: "Hey, I'm Gen X!"
My 13-year-old: "Touched a nerve?"
If you aren't familiar with the phrase, "Okay, boomer," and its multiple meanings and concomitant memes, you can read more about it here. Suffice it to say that the phrase is attributed to Millennials in reference to their frustration with elders' (baby boomers') actions, assumptions, judgments and seeming indifference to today's global, societal and economic crises. The baby boomers have clapped back, and feuding between the generations has only intensified. I know that generational issues are important, especially given that there are at least five different generations in today's workforce, but I see this latest clash as just another example of "othering" and our collective forgetting that "they" are actually "we."
In a program faculty meeting many years ago, my colleagues and I were trying to choose a date for an all-day retreat where we could work together on our program's mission, vision, and strategic plan. We had difficulty coming up with a day everyone was free, although we were all trying to make something work. In trying to free up my own schedule to accommodate the retreat, I made a comment that I no longer remember but I do remember that in response, Professor Burke turned to me and replied, "Be careful of the planning fallacy. Everyone thinks they will have more time in the future than they do now, but you won't. You will be just as busy in the future as you are right now." I never forgot it. He was right. Part of the reason for the planning fallacy is that we tend to do a poor job at imagining our future selves. It's also why it can be difficult to save money or to stop at one serving of ice cream. We have trouble imagining ourselves in the future, needing those saved funds, or being grateful to have foregone too much dessert.
The baby boomers were once young, and many of them were activists. And, at some point, the younger generation will, of course, be old. None of us will have more time than we do now. We will have the same amount of time - to understand that there is really no us and them, only us.
Wishing all of us a wonderful start to our new decade together.
Sarah Brazaitis, PhD
MA Program Director