Residents Of The Material World: Looking At Echo Boomers
By Aimee LaFountain
CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ recently did a segment profiling the children of baby boomers who have been dubbed the “echo boomer generation.” Some defining traits of echo boomers t the program listed were that they trust their parents and the government, they live in an instant gratification mindset, and they are very materialistic. A friend of mine once told me “Even if we want to reject today’s society, we are still influenced by it in responding to it.” By looking at the society that echo boomers presently live in, one can gain a better understanding of why they tend to exhibit these traits.
One major trait mentioned in the program was that echo boomers trust their parents and the government. It may be argued that these two characteristics are often dependent on one another. Many echo boomers do indeed have good relationships with their parents. This relationship also has an influence on echo boomers’ political beliefs. Children who admire their parents often (though not always) share similar beliefs. For example, many echo boomers who are Democrats have Democratic parents and the same goes for Republicans. It is too generalized to say that echo boomers tend to trust their government. In order to learn why echo boomers trust their government, though, one might gain knowledge from looking at the upbringing of echo boomers.
A second trait attributed to echo boomers is that they tend to seek instant gratification and basically spend money like “drunken sailors.” Unfortunately, this behavior is often displayed by members of the echo boomer generation. It should be noted, however, that the money spent on material things often serves as positive reinforcement for accomplishments. Yes, it’s sickening to see someone drop $100 for a pair of jeans. But this action is often accompanied with statements such as, “I’m rewarding myself because I got an A on my exam.” As stated in the program, echo boomers are a generation bombarded by pressures to do well from a young age, from the SATs to the GREs to finding a substantial job. And, in order keep themselves going, echo boomers reward themselves from time to time. Now surely one could argue that echo boomers shouldn’t need such reinforcement for their work, but it goes to show that their sense of priorities isn’t entirely lost.
Thirdly, the program stated that echo boomers are a generation that revolves around technology and materialistic things. While this statement is true, the daily demands of echo boomers often require them to employ the use of such things as technology and cars. I had to laugh when the program mentioned that the car brand Scion is targeting young people as customers for their cars because my friend Tracey does drive a Scion. At first glance, one might wonder why a teenager needs her own car. Tracey has a car so that she can commute to college and to work. The program went on to mention that many companies are targeting young people by placing ads on the Internet, which is brilliant because the Internet is something echo boomers use everyday. Being a student in modern America, though, requires such behavior. Students and professors often correspond through the Internet. For example, one needs the Internet in order to submit this assignment. Echo boomers do have close relationships with their computers, but it’s not entirely by choice.
Naturally the advantages of the echo boomer society also come with disadvantages. The fact that echo boomers are always technologically connected can lead to emotional disconnection. Text messages have replaced phone calls and people opt for e-mails in lieu of hand written letters. Now some may argue that advances in technology translate into more spare time. One fears, though, that spare time is the only thing echo boomers don’t know how to spend.