For a great part of my youth I was embarrassed that my classmates and I were labeled as “The Silent Generation.” It was the term most of the world used for those of us born anytime between the early-1930s and the mid-1940s.
We were neatly tucked in between “The Greatest Generation” and “The Baby Boomers,” and I always thought the adjective defining us was derisive… a reference to our generation’s general complacency and/or our all-too-ready acceptance of the status quo.
It was not until I had gained some maturity that I was able to understand that the label “The Silent Generation” was born out of the reality that we had so little about which to complain.
I should state at the outset that this thesis comes to you from a blatantly male perspective. There is no question that women, as well as virtually any minority group I can think of, did not have it nearly as cushy or comfortable as my band of all white brothers.
The men of my “silent” era were the very lucky ones: too young to be drafted for the Korean War and too old to be conscripted for Vietnam. We enjoyed whatever fortunate economic aftermaths there were to those conflicts, as well as the wave of prosperity that followed WWII. We never had to serve, but indeed were served well by booming real estate values, the tax code, an erupting economy, the coming of age of Social Security and Medicare, topped off by a non-violent sexual revolution.
“Silent Generation,” my ass. We were… are … by far… “The Luckiest Generation.”
We were raised without computers, and for the first 10-15 years of our lives without television, allowing us to stretch the muscles of our youthful imaginations via the radio play. We then witnessed the advent of television that led us to appreciate, among other things, a whole world of talents from New York, which Hollywood had incorrectly presumed would be “uninteresting” to the masses.
Perhaps of most importance during this period was being able to dodge the emotional, physical, and psychological burdens of growing up with the appendage of a cellular phone, and instead benefiting from such things as real books, the public library, and the handwritten love note.
By the early 1950s we had learned how to smoke from Humphrey Bogart, how to kiss a girl from Errol Flynn, and how to walk like a man from John Wayne. If Fred Astaire could not teach us how to dance, at least he gave us an introduction to a world of urbane male fashion.
Reminiscences such as these bring me to today and what is being wrought by the post Baby Booming Generation Xers, the Millennials, Gen Z, and maybe even Gen Alpha. I have, appropriately enough for my years, kept silent about these relatively recent arrivals on the planet earth, but now… not only has their cyber currency and hedge funding manipulations negatively impacted the economy of my Island paradise, but their newest “contribution”… that of artificial intelligence… is worse than annoying; it has become downright scary.
These notes from my warm Island take relatively little time to write. They do, however, take a heck of a lot longer to re-write. That time of picking nits comes under the heading of pride of authorship. Well spent hours that bring me pleasure and… sometimes… that same attention to detail elicits a compliment from a reader or two.
But what is next? When just any lug with half an idea can hit a few key thoughts onto his browser and have a full-fledged article pop out in the style of Longfellow, Hemingway, or Aaron Sorkin… well, c’mon… what chance is there for this aging Andy Rooney wannabe? How is that gonna work when just anyone can do this… and probably… even better… with little thought or effort?
It well may be common practice for every generation to proclaim, near the end of their days, that they had the best of it before going on to predict, Chicken Little- like, that the sky is falling. It well may be this has all been said since time immemorial… ancient beyond all time or record. Still, as I look over the landscape of what used to be America, I find myself thinking that the sky does look a lot closer than it once did.
On a lighter note, there is Derry Girls, a rather exceptional series that I am not at all sure how to review. I can only tell you that it has a brilliant company of actors, that it is delightfully clever, and that over its three seasons it consistently entertains and often provokes a laugh-out-loud response. This is not praise from Caesar, but rather from a viewer who must confess to only understanding maybe one out of every five words spoken by the thick-accented Irish thespians. Didn’t matter. I refused the option of sub-titles, believing to this day that they could not possibly have captured the lilting poetic way these Northern Islanders have of speaking, nor did I want to take the chance, while reading a sub-title, of missing a single facial expression on anyone in this fabulous ensemble of players.
The show is a hoot. Take my word for it. You will thank me. It is on Netflix and there are 19 episodes in total. Do not miss a one of them.
A final note: my oldest daughter recommended two series for me to watch: Beef and The Night Agent (both on Netflix). Both are worthy, the former having its roots in road rage and made by the same folks who brought you the Oscar winning Everything, Everywhere, All At Once. The latter is a political thriller in the idiom of Three Days of the Condor, but (sadly) without a young Robert Redford.
Ten episodes make up the entire first season of The Night Agent which moved along fast enough for me to view them all in just two nights. Credulity was stretched but not torn, there were only a few major script gaffs, and the actors were generally pleasant enough to watch, if not stellar. I can recommend this series with the not-so-subtle caveat that you should not depend on me to review season two.
I saw the opening episode of Beef and paused just long enough to allow for reconsidering before going on. The show is well made, albeit slightly over the top. The casting, directing… all of it… perfectly fine. It was just too close to life in the fast lane for this happily ensconced-on-a-warm-island aging gent.
Tension, when produced by filmed entertainment, is usually a sign that the people who are making the show know what they are doing. That is certainly true here. It is not them. It is me. Socrates admonished his followers to know themselves. I will do no less with all of you. If intense social drama is your thing, this may be a good show for you. Me? I’m off to the beach. If the sky is really falling, I don’t think I should miss seeing it.
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I’m a Baby Boomer, born between 1946 and 1964. As such, I grew up in a different political, economic, and social environment than the Silent Generation before us.
According to Wikipedia, “The Silent Generation are people born between 1928 and 1945. Upon coming of age in the postwar era, Silents were sometimes characterized as trending towards conformity and traditionalism, as well as comprising the Silent Majority”.
When Baby Boomers were young adults, we were anything but silent. Although the Civil Rights movement was initiated by the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers used their energy and voices to move it forward. We fought in and and protested against the Vietnamese War. Women’s liberation came about with the introduction of the birth control pill. Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll, were our thing.
Although the dates assigned to each generation may differ slightly (varied sources), The Silent Generation and Baby Boomers are now considered OLD. So whatever Barney finds entertaining works for me! Dena Stewart