The pandemic could bridge generational divides, not widen them | Natasha Lennard

Rather than pitting old people against the young, now is the time to unite against a system that only benefits those who are wealthy

During the first weeks of the coronavirus lockdown in the United States and Britain, a flurry of media commentary centred around issues of generational difference in response to the pandemic. “Boomer” parents, although at heightened risk of deadly complications from contracting Covid-19, were apparently not taking the virus seriously enough. They flouted social distancing measures in favour of bridge games and cruise trips. The young, it seemed, were the adults in the room, begging for seriousness from their at-risk elders. 

For the most part, these stories were media trend pieces and glossed anecdotes drenched in unspoken class assumptions. These reckless parents in their 60s and 70s had accrued enough capital to be cruise-tripping and golfing; they owned the homes where they should have been sheltering. And, as it turns out, the narrative of “unserious boomers” and “cautious millennials” obscured more than it revealed. The New York Times reported that a higher percentage of Americans born between 1946 and 1964 were practising social distancing than people born after 1980. Not to mention that many thousands of older essential workers, from nurses to supermarket workers, were left out of this tale of generational difference and indifference.

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Rather than pitting old people against the young, now is the time to unite against a system that only benefits those who are wealthyCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageDuring the first weeks of the coronavirus lockdown in the United States and Britain, a flurry of media commentary centred around issues of generational difference in response to the pandemic. “Boomer” parents, although at heightened risk of deadly complications from contracting Covid-19, were apparently not taking the virus seriously enough. They flouted social distancing measures in favour of bridge games and cruise trips. The young, it seemed, were the adults in the room, begging for seriousness from their at-risk elders. For the most part, these stories were media trend pieces and glossed anecdotes drenched in unspoken class assumptions. These reckless parents in their 60s and 70s had accrued enough capital to be cruise-tripping and golfing; they owned the homes where they should have been sheltering. And, as it turns out, the narrative of “unserious boomers” and “cautious millennials” obscured more than it revealed. The New York Times reported that a higher percentage of Americans born between 1946 and 1964 were practising social distancing than people born after 1980. Not to mention that many thousands of older essential workers, from nurses to supermarket workers, were left out of this tale of generational difference and indifference. Continue reading…

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