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Who Can You Believe?

hippiesIt should be clear to anyone that life is filled with contradictions, but this is ridiculous. On the same day that a Pew Research study comes out and reveals that boomers are in a funk, AARP releases the results of their survey showing that boomers are content with their lives.

Dueling surveys at sunrise, eh? A remarkable 82% of the AARP crowd is optimistic about the next five years. Seven in 10 said they had achieved all or most of what they wanted in life. 40 percent of those still working plan to keep working until they drop.

Back over to Pew Research Center, 80% of the respondents ages 46-64 were dissatisfied with the direction of the country. Maybe the Pew sample of 1,500 people were all having a bad day last month, while the AARPers were having all the fun. One Pew researcher posited that maybe boomers set themselves up for disappointment by being so idealistic back in the 60s. If that’s true, how do you explain the disturbing fact that boomers were less accepting of alternative lifesytles such as same-sex couples raising children or unmarried couples living together? We protested for civil rights but now we are getting choosy about who deserves them? Not cool.

AARP surveyed 800 people who are turning 65 this year. Almost half plan to take classes or learn something new and 60% want to travel more. Researchers say this reflects the notion that boomers think they are younger than they are, and they always have. I ask you, is that so wrong? The “tune in, turn on, drop out” crowd is in no hurry to take on the last part, according to AARP researchers.

The Pew survey did not probe too deeply into the reasons for boomersboomer pessimism, but the speculation is that boomers have hit middle age during a record-breaking recession and they have always faced tremendous competition because of the sheer size of the demographic. Bummer.

To me, the real message from both surveys is that boomers are in a state of flux. One day we’re up and think that the world is getting better and the next day we think it’s all going to hell in a handbasket. This may all come down to whether or not you’re a born optimist or pessimist. Since I fall into the “nothing is ever as bad as it seems” camp and despite my penchant for bitching about how boomers are always getting the blame for everything, put me down as an optimist. We have a pretty good life and it could well be that the best is yet to come.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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