Elizabeth Djinis - Times Correspondent
Who has it harder: millennials or boomers? We asked, you answered.
We asked readers the eternal question in polls on Facebook and Twitter. Here are the results.
Published Dec. 12, 2019

It’s become somewhat of an eternal question to fight over which generation had it the hardest.

Your grandparents may tell you they had to walk five miles in the snow to get to school. They grew up during the Great Depression and World War II. Your parents grappled with the Vietnam War, the threat of nuclear warfare and political instability. And if you’re a millennial, you’re dealing with an economic system that feels untenable, the relentless cycle of social media and climate change that makes world destruction seem imminent.

It could easily be deemed a toss-up.

Last month, we published the perspective of a baby boomer and a millennial on this very issue. Then, we took this question to our readers on Twitter and Facebook. And you answered.

On Facebook, millennials won with 80 percent of the 1,800 votes.

The editorial board of the Tampa Bay Times discusses what it's like to be a millennial and a boomer in the time of "OK...

Posted by Tampa Bay Times on Monday, November 25, 2019

On Twitter, millennials won with 77 percent of the (much fewer) 111 votes.

It’s important to note that data shows that the highest percentage of male and female Facebook users fall in the 25 to 34 range. Millennials in 2019 generally range from 23 to 38.

More interesting were your responses. Many of you deepened the arguments made in our original piece. Others brought up new ones altogether.

Why boomers have it harder

One baby boomer brought up an interesting point: Millennials’ unstable economic situations have actually become a burden for their parents. Studies show that about 22 percent of millennials are living at home. That encompasses all young adults ages 23 to 37.

“I think we have it a little tougher because we are having to help them with their struggle more than our parents had to help us,” writes Debi Welsh on Facebook. “And at a time when we should be able to start thinking about retiring, but can’t.”

What about all of the seminal societal changes made under baby boomers, asked some commenters on our online story. The civil rights movement, protests against the Vietnam War, many of the beginning inklings of the environmental movement began in large part due to boomers.

“Some of us were more radical than others but we knew we wanted to change the world and we did,” wrote one commenter.

Some boomers came of age during an incredible time of political and social upheaval in the country. Not only were there nuclear drills at school, but think of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. At the same time, the only president to ever resign, Richard Nixon, did so in 1974.

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“Lost in this piece is the tremendous work and sacrifice boomers had to make to effect so many changes,” said a commenter.

Why millennials have it harder

Of course, while the comments in favor of millennials were fewer than those of boomers, millennials did win the poll by far. So obviously some felt in favor of them.

A few of the reasons cited: Economic concerns were at the forefront. Health care costs are increasing and education costs are skyrocketing with no end in sight. Just look at the average college tuition. In 1989, the average cost for a college degree was $26,902. Now, one year of college costs almost that much on average.

Another Facebook commenter, Patricia Lee, a self-described “boomer,” said millennials have it worse because they can’t “think for themselves.”

“No one taught them how to think for themselves, stand up for themselves, be compassionate to others, and be independent.”

This is the type of thinking that caused the term ‘OK Boomer.'

Why the answer is: neither

But many of you felt the poll lacked a simple option: neither generation.

So many of you said Gen X was caught in the middle and didn’t get to benefit from the same technological improvements as millennials.

“I’m a Gen X, and we didn’t have MapQuest, Google, Google Maps, Youtube....We had to use road maps for directions, the library and books for research, a dictionary for vocabulary and to look up how to spell words,” wrote John Anthony Mooradian on Facebook.

Still others said it was wrong to pit both generations against each other.

“Every generation has, and will have, hard times to face and overcome,” said Barbara Martinelli on Facebook.

Maybe Debbie Helmholtz put it best, siding with Gen X.

“The generation in between” has it the hardest, she said.

“We have to deal with boomers and millennials.”