By Corey Achambault
AmeriCorps Program Director
Full disclosure: I am, in fact, a Millennial. Born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s, I grew up watching cable TV, am skilled with a smartphone, and have no real memories of a time before the internet. I’m also an avid reader, love dogs, and consider volunteering to be my favorite hobby. Even though I may sometimes act like I know more than I do, when it comes to COVID-19, I’m paying close attention to those who know more than me and following the recommendations laid out by the CDC and State of Michigan.
As such, it really gets my goat when I read articles or social media posts criticizing Millennials for traveling to exotic spring break locations. Frankly, the last time I went to a beach for spring break was over ten years ago! And while I, too, may find myself being a little critical of those who travel for recreation right now, I think it is important at this time that we suspend assumptions and avoid mislabeling behaviors or giving in to gross overgeneralizations.
One stereotype about Millennials is that we try to make everything about ourselves and I promise that is not my intention with this note. I only share this experience to let you know that I get it – people have a lot to say about other generations, and all too often, it’s negative or misplaced, and it’s usually directed at either my generation or yours.
While logging onto social media, I often see sarcastic posts that end with “okay boomer” and an eyeroll emoji. Typically, my policy is to ignore the post and keep scrolling in search of content that is more interesting, more relevant, or, if I’m lucky, includes a dog video. However, I cannot take this same passive approach when I see an extension of this “joke” in posts now referring to COVID-19 as #BoomerRemover. It baffles me that people think this is humorous or okay. It is not.
If we stick to the facts, then yes, COVID-19 disproportionately presents serious, life-threatening symptoms in older adults. However, these symptoms are not exclusive to aging populations and can affect anybody, regardless of age. Furthermore, #BoomerRemover fails to account for the sum of the human experience. Now is a time for our community to come together and support each other, not reinforce divides or prejudices, passing them off as “harmless” humor. My generation is still getting our lives together and we need you to continue showing us the ropes! I need my aging family and friends in my life. They matter to me. You matter to me. You matter.
So here are some of the ways I’m supporting the older adults in my life at this time:
- Staying home to the fullest extent possible
- Promoting social media content that is actually humorous and educating those who post insensitive material
- Checking in regularly with the important people in my life
- Talking others through using grocery delivery services and apps that link library cards to eReaders or tablets
- Preparing a meal for neighbors diagnosed with COVID-19 and sharing via porch drop-off
Our world is about to change and nobody knows what it is going to look like. But if we come together and support one another through this time, then our community will come out that much stronger. It’s my hope that we can close the gap between our generations and find mutual understanding and respect that extends well beyond COVID-19.