Lady in the phone

It’s no wonder Fairfax has falling readership and shrinking revenues, when flagship publications such as the Sydney Morning Herald seem to go out of their way to insult boomer readers. We know they are sacking journalists, so syndicating columns from overseas seems a quick win, but when the content is as insulting and inaccurate as When the lady in the phone starts screaming by Alexandra Petri, you really have to wonder who the hell is selecting this stuff. For those who don’t know Ms. Petri, she is a blogger for the Washington Post and her column is called ComPost. That’s a semi appropriate name. TotalCrap might be a better one. The article dwells on a boomer female called Janis who sniffles, sobs and struggles. She is 60 years old and needs to phone her children long distance to ask which button turns on her mobile. She wants them to help her make the microwave ‘less angry’ and apparently this is, to quote Ms. Petri:

‘…becoming the norm for boomers. As they age, they enter what someone probably likes to call a “premature obsolescence”. And it rankles’

What really rankles, of course, is Ms. Petri’s patronising tone and total ignorance about what boomers can and cannot do.

Yes, yes, it’s supposed to be satirical, but so are jokes about blondes with big tits. There comes a time when the latter are seen for what they are – sexist – and the time has come for dumb Gen-X comments such as those featured on ComPost to be seen for what they are – ignorant and ageist.

“By picking up the phone every time a parent calls to ask how the wifi works, we are enabling them in a life of dependency”, she declares. So will she refuse an inheritance from her parents, because that would encourage her dependency? I suspect not.

We can forgive Ms. Petri, I guess, because she thinks she is being funny and doesn’t actually get the fact that many boomer parents are the technical experts who organise the household wifi in the first place. But what about the Sydney Morning Herald editors who chose to run this article? What were they thinking? Do they dislike their remaining, largely boomer, readers so much they thought insulting them was the way to go? Get with it guys – your boomer readers are capable of checking this stuff out online as well as in print. They won’t complain, they’ll just unsubscribe. And you will never realise how pissed off they are as you sit agonising over the dropping readership statistics, wondering what went wrong.

Written by Kaye Fallick