15 Ways Life Was Tougher for Boomers Than Millennials and Gen Z

Krystal Smith

While Millennials and Gen Z often face criticism for perceived entitlement and struggle with issues like student debt and the competitive job market, the Baby Boomer generation often faces overlooked challenges. From being drafted into unpopular wars to navigating a world without technology, boomers overcame obstacles their children and grandchildren may never fully comprehend. 

Lack of Technology

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With technology, Boomers had more information, communication, and opportunities. Obtaining knowledge required extensive library research, which made learning slower and less accessible. This process was time-consuming and limited in scope as libraries need more information on everything in this world. 

Lack of Access to Information

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Following on from the first point, Boomers need access to technology-related information to stay informed, pursue diverse interests, and compete in a knowledge-driven society. In contrast, Millennials and Gen Z have instant access to information online and continuous learning. 

Educational Opportunities

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Scholarships, online courses, and educational resources were scarce compared to today, making higher education more financially tricky for boomers. Not only this, but it constrained Boomers’ career prospects, forcing many to settle for jobs that didn’t align with their passions or skills. 

Job stability

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Many Boomers stayed in one job with one company for most of their careers because of fewer alternatives and less mobility. They often felt locked into their positions, regardless of satisfaction. Nowadays, young people prioritize enjoying their jobs while expanding their skills as often as possible through online courses or college access. 

Diversity and Inclusion

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Discrimination based on race, gender, and sexual orientation was more common and socially accepted, which created barriers to opportunities and advancement for marginalized groups. Boomers faced limited representation, often feeling isolated or undervalued in certain environments. 

No Mental Health Awareness

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For Boomers, mental health issues were often misunderstood or ignored, which led to people suffering in silence without understanding or adequate resources. Seeking help was discouraged, and discussions surrounding mental health were taboo, which created a culture of shame and isolation. Nowadays, mental health is more openly spoken about, and support is widely accessible. 

Work-life Balance

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Work-life balance wasn’t prevalent, and boomers often felt they had to prioritize their careers over their well-being, with little support for flexible working arrangements or boundaries. This imbalance resulted in added stress, burnout, and strained relationships. 

Communication Constraints

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Communication was primarily face-to-face or through slower means like letters, which hindered instant connections and global interactions. Long-distance communication was costly and time-consuming, making it challenging to stay in touch with loved ones or conduct business effectively over geographic distances. Additionally, the lack of instant messaging and social media meant maintaining relationships required more effort and planning. 

Rigid Gender Roles 

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Boomers grew up during a time when traditional gender norms dictated strict roles for men and women. Men were expected to be the primary breadwinners, and women took care of domestic duties. This restricted career choices and freedoms for both men and women, with women facing barriers in accessing education and pursuing their ambitions outside of their homes. 

Health and Wellness Knowledge

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Routine medical checks were less common, and there needed to be a greater understanding of the importance of exercise, nutrition, and stress management for overall health. As a result, boomers faced higher rates of preventable diseases and mental health problems. Millennials and Gen Z have access to unlimited information and resources on health and wellness topics, helping them make informed decisions and prioritize their health from a young age. 

Career Flexibility 

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Boomers entered the workforce when job mobility was lower, and employers were less willing to accommodate alternative work arrangements. The lack of flexibility made boomers feel locked in their chosen career paths, even if they desired to leave. Societal norms also forced people to feel like they had to remain loyal to a single employer, and having many jobs on your resume was seen as a bad thing. 

Limited Entertainment 

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Unlike Millennials and Gen Z, who have social media apps like TikTok and Instagram, boomers had to rely on traditional entertainment like radio, television, books, and records. Access to movies and music was often constrained by location and affordability. Boomers needed more access to cultural exploration and expression. Millennials and Gen Z benefit from many entertainment options like streaming services, social media, online gaming, and virtual experiences. 

Limited Birth Control Options

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Boomers lived through a time when access to contraception was limited. This means they faced unplanned pregnancies at a higher rate, resulting in limited educational and career opportunities. Societal norms surrounding sexuality didn’t help, as seeking contraception was seen as shameful. In today’s world, there’s a wider range of contraceptive options and more access to reproductive healthcare. 

Paper Maps for Directions

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Using paper maps for directions was the only option for boomers if they were going somewhere new and unfamiliar. They had to plan their routes and navigate paper maps, which often led to confusion, wrong turns, and getting lost. Because of this, travel was more time-consuming and stressful, especially in unfamiliar areas or when road conditions changed unexpectedly. Today, GPS navigation systems exist, and some offer real-time updates on traffic so that Millennials and Gen Z can avoid getting stuck in traffic. 

Having to Develop Film to see Photographs

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Today’s generation couldn’t imagine waiting to see pictures, but boomers did. Boomers had to carefully consider each shot before taking it, as film rolls had limited exposures, and there was no way to review or delete photos instantly. After taking the photo, they had to take it to a photo lab for development, which could sometimes take a few weeks. This process was costly, and there was also the added risk of photos turning out poorly due to technical issues or errors in exposure. As a result, boomers had fewer opportunities to document and share photos. They often waited for special occasions to take snaps rather than in everyday life. 

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