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Generational Memes: YOLO vs YOOO, Tenacious Teens vs Obsolete Oldies

Millennials vs. Boomers cover both ends of the age spectrum. There's an X and a Y in between, but according to most authorities, a generation of folks is approximately 15 years apart, where they are defined by their own uniquely similar characteristics.

While the first species of the genus Homo appeared about 2.5 million years ago, the first Homo Sapiens (evolved humans as we know them today) only dates back 160,000 years. Using the the 15 year yardstick, this would mean that Homo Sapiens appeared about 10,600 generations ago, give or take a few.

While many will dispute when Millennials first inhabited the Earth, most would say it was around the late 70s. Boomers predated this group with the first appearing during the Baby Boom of 1946 (a ha, the origin of the name) where it includes babies born, up to 1964, when the early ones first graduated high school.

Although man has evolved, the differences between these generations are marked so much that Millennials occasionally refer to Boomers as "Neanderthals." However, there are a few similarities between these two demographics.  Millennials are sometimes called Echo Boomers, due to the significant increase in birth rates during the 1980s and into the 1990s. Today they even surpass Boomers in numbers, coming in at 82 million, compared to the Boomers' 77 million.

Both groups are moving, en masse, to cities. And the large migration of these two largest generations is driving other changes to which both governments and businesses need to pay attention - as evidenced by the last election.  Connections to one's fellow man creates experience and are not limited to the online variety. What better place to share and connect than in a densely populated city?

Urban farming and community-supported-agriculture (CSA's) are becoming more and more popular and profitable, as the eco-conscious Millennials and the health-conscious Boomers increasingly demand to know what is in their food and where it's harvested.

Two other similarities that appear to have slipped under the radar relate to a couple of unique memes attributed to teens and seniors.

The first is YOLO which most likely means very little to anyone over the age of 20. Ironically, it's really a re-hash of an old platitude ("You Only Live Once") that's been around for ages. However, it's the acronym YOLO that gives it - it's new street cred.
 
Popularized by the rapper Drake. In his song "The Motto"  he included the rap hook, “You only live Rapper DrakeRapper Drakeonce, that’s the motto...YOLO, and we ’bout it every day, every day, every day.” While much of the lyrics are X-rated and racial in tone, the YOLO sentiment quickly went viral to become a buzzword amongst high school and college-age kids. Distribution-wise, it was fueled by the "turbocharged vehicle of social media," writes Ben Zimmer in his Boston Globe report.

"Its appeal to the youthful is self-evident. YOLO as a shorthand mantra defines youth, on a certain level. What is teenagehood if not the adventurous, often foolhardy, desire to test the limits of acceptable behavior—because hey, why not? YOLO!" adds Zimmer.

On the other end of the age-spectrum, Oldies have a similar meme, that oddly enough originated from one of the world's most famous children's book writers -- Dr. Seuss. YOOO, or "You're Only Old Once (A Book for Obsolete Children)" takes it's turn at changing up that old "you only live once" saw. 

In his humorous treatise against aging, the Doctor serves up life post-50, that most mature folks can easily relate to.  "Anyone who has ever submitted to a battery of medical tests will empathize with Dr. Seuss’s Everyman as we follow him through his checkup with the experts at the Golden Years Clinic. From the initial Eyesight and Solvency Test through all the stops along Stethoscope Row, to finally being 'properly pilled' and 'properly billed,' critiques one reviewer.

So whether you're YOOOing or YOLOing, Dr. Seuss probably best describes how the old and the young are really dealing with the same facts of life, no matter what age. In his 1959 book, titled, "Happy Birthday to You!" he provides both today's youth and elderly with his beliefs in self-actualization - that being "you" is the most important gift man receives in life, especially when we expand our reach to allow ourselves to become 'Youer" to a wider range of people over the course of our lifetimes!

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Ron Callari
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