Generational Profiling
Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

It’s been said that baby boomers have been blasé about the current pandemic. Oh, hell no! I don’t know a single person over the age of sixty-five who feels impervious to or has been even remotely slow to respond to COVID-19.

The myth of the noncompliant boomer is just that, a myth!

This misconception is yet another example of how quickly the dissemination of information can become warped these days, even when there is no intention to spread misinformation or lies.

How did the idea that our senior citizens are dismissive of this deadly disease even come about?

Seems the bogus accusation first surfaced when it was observed that boomers weren’t speaking up on social media as involved and concerned about the current crisis. Well, duh – they simple aren’t as active on those platforms! Next, it seems, one middle-aged kid complains about having to nag his boomer parents to mask up and others are off to the races, shaming boomers for failing the world by refusing to hunker down. This idea was so prevalent that columnists began producing pieces on how to talk to aging parents about stronger compliance and adherence to protective measures. Talk about fake news and generational stereotypes!

Here’s how it works:  people interpret social trends through generational stereotypes (it’s fun to point fingers!), and the media enhances the spreading of this false information.

This, my friend, is generational profiling.

Young people who’ve been lax about thwarting exposure to the virus aren’t doing so because they’re Gen Zer’s or millennials; they’re doing it because they’re young and carefree. On the flip side, older people who are hypervigilant in their response to exposure are reacting as such, not because they’re boomers but, because they’ve got more life experience to warn them of dire consequences.

Like the virus, generational profiling may be flattening out. Recent polls by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Axios found that Americans of all ages are equally likely to practice physical distancing.

Looking Ahead

Profiling or not, each of us will be required to decide in coming weeks and months just how comfortable we are about relaxing our sheltering-in-place lifestyles. Each decision will be based on how vulnerable we feel, period.

Personally, I’ve got way too many risk factors to even consider joining the hustle and bustle of public life. I’ll likely stay put until a vaccine is developed or a test for antibodies that shows me as not vulnerable.

In either case, I’ll not put any stock into judging the actions of people based on what defining age group they claim. And I’ll respect your choice as long as it doesn’t put others at risk.