published Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Kennedy: Nuggets of truth in gen-gap

I've been looking for a missing link between baby boomers and millennials. Apparently it was right under my nose.

It's chicken.

According to AARP The Magazine, KFC is now marketing buckets of boneless chicken because people under age 35, who grew up eating McNuggets, don't care for bird bones.

I recalled my oldest son's reaction when I took him to a meat-and-three restaurant downtown.

"How'd they get the bone inside this chicken?" he asked, poking at a fried breast with his fork.

Baby boomers and millennials observing one another will be a plot line in American culture for the next few decades.

Chalk it up to sheer numbers. At 80 million, millennials (those born roughly between 1980 and about 2000) represent "the largest age grouping" in America today, according to a recent cover story in Time magazine. This is a new development for baby boomers (born 1946-64), who have always been the ostrich egg in the snake's belly at 76 million.

In the middle are the Generation Xers, who no doubt view both groups with some bemusement.

Two recent entries in my e-mail inbox illustrate my point. In both cases, a writer was full of generational observations and felt inclined to alert the media.

First, a local grandmother, who asked to remain anonymous, marveled at how technology involved in childbearing has changed for her children's generation. There are apps for tracking popular baby names, 3-D ultrasound for determining the gender of an unborn child, GPS to find the quickest way to a hospital and computerized hospital bracelets to track and safeguard the baby's movements.

The writer mused about where technology would take us from here and all the intangibles that remain outside the scope of today's gadgetry.

"I love them [her family] and I think that is what matters," she wrote. "There's not an app for that."

Ironically, if today's baby boomers are a bit puzzled by millennials' reliance on technology, it seems that some young people are worried that they won't live up to baby-boomer virtues. A letter from 23-year-old Rebekah Bell shows that she has heard the boomer critiques of millennials.

"We are denounced for accumulating student loan debt, living with our parents after college, being underemployed, starting families later than our parents did and putting off major life purchases such as homes," she wrote.

On the flip side, she explained, "(Millennials) have published best-selling books, found cures for diseases, won Heisman trophies and Olympic gold medals, founded multi-million dollar companies, and led campaigns to end modern-day slavery."

There you have it. Boomers want to give love and millennials want to earn it.

Sounds like we might be close to a grand bargain.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.

about Mark Kennedy...

Mark Kennedy is a Times Free Press columnist and editor. He writes the "LIfe Stories" human interest column for the City section and the "Family Life" column for the Life section. He also writes an automotive column, “Test Drive,” for the Business section. For 13 years, Kennedy was features editor of the newspaper, and before that he was the newspaper’s first Sunday editor. The Times Free Press Life section won the state press award for ...

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