10 Reasons Millennials Owe A Big Thank You To Boomers

These days, you can’t look at much on the Internet without seeing a reference to the term, “OK, Boomer.” It’s a funny, yet strained response Millenials give to members of the Baby Boomer generation when they don’t want to bother trying to convince them of something or sway opinion their way.

The Millennials are simply tired of trying, and the Boomers get a lot of flack and blame for many of the world’s problems. While it’s true that financial issues and costs of various things can be attributed to Boomers, the generation has done a great deal Millenials can be thankful for.

See Also: 10 Ways Young Generations Are Better Than Their Parents

10 They Won The Cold War

Before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the world was in the grips of the Cold War. The main participants were the Soviet Union and the West, which included the United States and Europe’s NATO allies. That conflict lasted 44 years, and it was fought by members of the Silent Generation all the way through to Generation X, but it was the Baby Boomers who finally brought it to an end, and nary a shot was fired.[1]

For most of the conflict, the Boomers butted heads across the pond through proxy wars and the advancement and manufacture of bigger, deadlier nuclear arms, but they finally put a stop to it through reinforcement of economic instability and the democratization of political and social life in the Soviet Union. The USSR fell for a number of reasons, but it ultimately came to an end through economic pressure and social upheaval coming from a generation that protested the Vietnam War in the west and Soviet Boomers who grew less and less interested in Communist norms.[2]

9 The Beatles, Steven Spielberg, & Erin Brockovich

While the Beatles fall just behind the line denoting the year Boomers were born, they grew to prominence as the Boomer generation came into adulthood. There’s no denying the influence The Beatles had on music and society as a whole, but the band also inspired a vast majority of Rock and Pop singers/songwriters in and out of the Boomer generation.[3] Music aside, another form of entertainment, specifically, movies, has largely been shaped by a man who essentially created the summer blockbuster: Steven Spielberg.[4]

Spielberg is often cited as one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema, and his resume stands for itself. Finally, Erin Brockovich is more than a movie; it’s the name of a Boomer who decided to stand up and fight for the little guy, but we’re not talking about litigants, we’re talking about the environment. Her lawsuit, which was detailed in the eponymous film about her, helped bring attention to the damage being done by large corporations, and she has helped mold the public outcry revolving around environmental damage and climatology.[5]

8 They Helped Establish A Worldwide Network Of Telecommunications

Baby Boomers grew up as America and the Soviet Union fought the Space Race, and many of the young men and women who watched Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the Moon grew up to become scientists and engineers who would work for NASA and the ESA. The Boomers who began working at NASA in the 1970s helped to create something you are using to read this article: a global telecommunications network.[6] The importance of global telecommunications can not be overstated, as it has brought the entire world together in a way never seen previously.

With global communications, people all over the world can take part in things going on pretty much everywhere there are phones and/or computers. NASA and the U.S. Government began filling Earth’s orbit with satellites, which have linked all of humanity in a way never seen in previous eras, and most of the people working tirelessly to make it happen were Boomers. That work has been expanded by subsequent generations, but the Boomers helped make it a reality through the 1970s, ‘80s, and beyond.[7]

7 They Made Men’s Willies Work Again

It may seem like a silly notion to anyone who hasn’t experienced erectile dysfunction, but it was once a serious problem. Millions of men and their partners around the world owe a great deal of thanks to Dr. Gill Samuels, a Boomer from Bury, Lancashire, United Kingdom. Dr. Samuels joined Pfizer as a research scientist in 1978, and from there, she went on to become one of the leading developers of a wonderous, little blue pill called Viagra.[8]

Viagra launched in 1998, and while there are more than enough jokes and memes regarding the effects of the drug, it’s hard to discount its importance on society. Dr. Samuels has spoken about receiving letters from men on the verge of suicide, but thanks to her invention, they were living longer happier lives. She even mentioned how the men who participated in the clinical trial begged to continue taking the drug when it concluded. There are more options these days to solve a man’s little problem in the bedroom, but it all started with that little blue pill Dr. Samuels helped bring into the world.[9]

6 They Shattered A Significant Glass Ceiling

Prior to and following WWII, women were mainly limited to employment in traditionally female jobs, and while that norm stood for some time, it would be the Boomer generation who would put an end to it. As families moved from the cities to the suburbs to raise their Boomer kids, the makeup of the so-called nuclear family began to change. Divorce rates increased as women realized they didn’t have to remain in otherwise loveless marriages. This brought more and more women into the workforce, and they soon realized there was a glass ceiling keeping them on the lower rung of the corporate ladder.[10]

Pioneering women like Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, Dr. Leona Fulani, the first woman to appear on the ballots of all 50 states in a Presidential election, and Carly Fiorina, the first woman to be named CEO of a Fortune 20 company are just a few examples of Boomers who broke through the glass ceiling.[11] Hillary Clinton recently broke the ceiling by becoming the first woman to become a serious contender for the office of the President of the United States.

5 Civil Rights & The ADA

The Civil Rights movement in America began while most Boomers were still bouncing on their daddy’s knee, but as those kids grew up, they saw the various injustices of the world and opted to fight against them. Baby Boomers were the ones who fought in and protested against the Vietnam War. They argued for equality, and many of them marched alongside some of the most important activists of the previous generation.[12] The Boomers learned from these events and pushed for numerous reforms to civil rights and the rights of disabled people.

In 1990, the United States passed The Americans with Disabilities Act, and while there are plenty of people who argue that the Act was unnecessary and costly for businesses, it afforded access to every American, regardless of their situation. This was something that had never been done before, and as a result, people who couldn’t work previously were able to do so while the deaf and hearing impaired were guaranteed access to a nationwide system of interstate services to help them communicate over the phone.[13]

4 They Ended The Draft

If there’s one thing pretty much all Millennials can and should thank the Boomers for, it’s the elimination of the military draft in 1973. Prior to the creation of the All-Volunteer Force, all American men had to serve in the Armed Forces, and following the loss of 58,220[14] American Servicemembers in Vietnam, public sentiment towards compulsory service was at an all-time low. The Department of Defense decided to let the Military Selective Service Act expire in June of 1973, and from that point forward, no American was forced to serve in the military.[15]

The United States used conscription for every major conflict up to and including the Vietnam War, but thanks, in large part, to the protests led by Baby Boomers who were tired of seeing their generation marched off to war, it came to an end. Since that time, the U.S. Military has risen as one of the best trained, best equipped, and most feared militaries on Earth and every single person serving in uniform does so by choice.[16]

3 They Gave The World The Personal Computer

When computers were first invented, they took up entire rooms, and cost more money than anyone could afford. They were also mainframe systems subject to oversight by whatever corporation or government agency built them. The advent of the personal computer changed all that, and with the introduction of PCs into the home came the democratization of computing. If you’re reading this on a computer or your smartphone, you owe a huge thanks to Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, two Boomers born in 1950 and 1955, respectively.[17]

Granted, those two men weren’t the only pioneers in the field, and they owe a thank you to the men and women who built the first microprocessors, many of whom were Boomers as well. The invention of personal computers arguably changed the world. They enabled the average person to enter the digital age in much the same way Gutenberg’s printing press helped make the world literate. It’s one of the most important inventions of all time, and it was made by Boomers.[18]

2 They Invented The Internet

The Internet. It’s something few people can go without in modern society, and it’s the only way you’re reading this article! The Internet was a game-changer for humanity, and it’s all thanks to the Baby Boomers. The beginnings of what would become the Internet stemmed from the ARPANET,[19] which wasn’t started by Boomers, but it was used as a framework for the iterations of packet-switching networks, which would ultimately become the Internet. There were a lot of people who worked on the Internet as it grew into a worldwide web of information, but one man, in particular, can be called the father of the Internet.

Sir Tim Burners-Lee[20] is credited as being the inventor of the World Wide Web in 1989, and it’s because of him that we have URLs, HTTP, and HTML. Burners-Lee was born in 1959, which lands him right in the middle of the period claimed by the Baby Boomers. He continues to help shape and define the WWW as the director of the World Wide Web Consortium,[21] an organization that oversees the continued development of the Web we call the Internet.

1 They Created Video Games

The first video game was programmed into an oscilloscope by physicist William Higinbotham[22] in 1958, and while it was an important achievement in the history of video game development, it wasn’t until the early 1960s that a few pioneering MIT employees programmed Spacewar! On the PDP-1 during their spare time. This achievement led to an exponential growth in the number of people interested in programming games, as well as playing them. When the 1970s came around, video games were a burgeoning commercial industry, and with games like Pong, created by Allan Alcorn, a Boomer, the industry began to take off.

Through the late 1970s and well into the 1980s, the video games coded in and outside of the United States were done almost entirely by Baby Boomers. These were the people who wanted to play games, and they figured out how to make them.[23] While the bulk of the industry moved overseas to Japan, it has remained one of the biggest entertainment industries in the world. If nothing else on this list describes something a Millenial should be thankful to a Boomer for, you can rest assured they are thankful for the video game industry.