Us-versus-them mentality of Millennials and Boomers must end
Did you know that the U.S. wine market is “plagued by old guard attitude and pretension”?
So says Leora Kalikow, who describes herself on her Huffington Post blog as a “a wine geek and sommelier, dining and drinking her way through New York City” as well as “Director of Communications” for a company “dedicated to changing the way Millennials drink.”
Now, I don’t know Leora. She’s probably a very nice person, and I wish her well in her business endeavors, as well as in her wine-and-food peregrinations around the city where I was born and grew up. But I’m afraid she’s been drinking the Kool-Aid that says that Millennials are the be-all and end-all of everything meaningful in the culture today, while we old guard Boomers are–well, “plagued by attitude and pretension.”
Let’s get our ducks in a row.
I’ve met plenty of Boomers with “attitude” and I’ve met plenty of Millennials with “attitude.” “Attitude” isn’t a phenomenon restricted to any one age group. “Attitude” occurs in people who don’t know how to treat others lovingly and respectfully. If you have “attitude,” you behave one way with people you like and approve of, while you treat everybody else like merde. So let’s dispense with this Boomer “attitude” thing.
What about “pretension”? I suppose some of the Boomers Leora runs into (presumably, as she’s dining and drinking her way through New York City) appear pretentious to her. What does this mean? Only Leora really knows, but we can infer that every once in a while a Boomer will say something about wine that strikes Leora as snobby. Again, we’ve all met pretentious people, but are Boomers any more pretentious than anyone else? I don’t think so.
In fact, to accuse the American wine market of being “plagued by old guard attitude and pretention” is a bit hyperbolic, isn’t it? “Plagued” is an awfully strong word; AIDS is a plague, not people Leora finds annoying. If Leora really feels that way, I would suggest that the “attitude” might be on her part, not on the Boomers’.
There’s more. “Millennials have learned to embrace, accept and expect the good life…no generation has exhibited such a pronounced desire for the finer things since [sic] this one,” Leora writes. Leaving aside that problematic word “since,” I have a one-word reaction: Really? One might have thought that upper-class Europeans and Americans during The Gilded Age [c. 1870-1900] were more attracted to gilt and glitter than the Milliennials; or perhaps the get-rich-at-any-cost ambitions of Reagan-era Americans (a generation than spawned more MBAs than any before or since), or even my own Baby Boomers, who certainly never met any aspect of “the good life”, whether it be gustatory, sexual or pharmacological, they didn’t embrace.
The problem with such axiomatic pronouncements is that they fail to correspond with reality. What one can say about Millennials is that they have access to more of the world’s cultural influences [including wine and food] than any generation before. But Millennials are not in kind different from any other generation. This is a meme you often hear here at steveheimoff.com. Human nature doesn’t change in fundamental ways, despite whatever technological advances may be occurring.
This has been my core problem with some Millennialistas and their inflated view of themselves: this predilection to believe that they, with their social media and smartphones, are somehow qualitatively different from, and inherently superior to, the “pretentious old guard,” who apparently wrecked everything, leaving them to pick up the pieces. I have never understood the animus Millennials hold toward Boomers, which may be more a function of their own familial psychodramas vis-a-vis their parents than of anything objective. I wish we could finally end this us vs. them mentality of Millennials and Boomers, whose origins I lay at the doorstep of the former.