Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Generation What?

Recently, I came across an article online from an April, 2000 issues of Esquire magazine, by Paul Begala, who summed Baby Boomers up as "The Worst Generation" of "self-absorbed" nasty "greed is good" jerks, full of guys who "once dropped acid and now do Viagra" and chicks who used to "do lipstick and now do liposuction".  Sounds kind of harsh!

I'll admit I've been known to refer to Baby Boomers as "they", "them" and "those people" who were former hippies and draft dodgers.  I was a Disco Queen and that was all so far from my universe growing up that "they" seemed like the "older generation" to me. 

So you can imagine my absolute shock and mortification when I realized that I, was in fact, a member of the Baby Boom Generation that's constantly getting trashed in the media. How could that be?  I'm only 50 years old.  

Technically, Baby Boomers are considered those born in 1946 through the end of 1963.  They are classified as having grown up with Howdy Duty, Woodstock and anti-Vietnam War protests.  I was born in 1958 and never did any of that.  Somebody check the dates!

Seriously, I thought I was part of the Pepsi Generation ('63)-- We were born after World War II in time for, us-- the "younger generation", to take the "Pepsi Challenge" ('75).  The Baby Boom started a full ten years before I was even born!  Who do I call to file a protest?  The Pepsi Generation just sounds so much nicer anyway.  Besides, I was only 5 years old by the time the Boomer Generation ended.  

"Officially" Boomers include folks like Donald Trump and George W. Bush ('46), OJ Simpson (47), Cat Stevens ('48), Richard Gere ('49), Arianna Huffington ('50), Rush Limbaugh ('51),  Mickey Rourke ('52), Ben Bernanke ('53), Howard Stern ('54), Steve Jobs ('55), Bill Maher ('56), Spike Lee ('57), Michael Jackson ('58), Marie Osmond('59), Bono ('60), Dee Dee Myers ('61), Tom Cruise ('62), and John's son, Julian Lennon ('63).

That means Michelle Obama, Tavis Smiley, Russell Crowe and Bobby Flay (all born in 1964) are too young and just missed the "Boomer" title.  I doubt they're upset.

If that doesn't surprise you, how about the folks that are too old to be Boomers-- Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, Eric Clapton and Diane Sawyer, were all born in 1945.  George Lucas ('44), Geraldo Rivera ('43), Aretha Franklin ('42), Martha Stewart ('41) and John Lennon ('40) didn't make the cut either.  I wonder if they realize they're part of the "Silent Generation".  (1930-1945) Nice, huh?

There is a glimmer of light at the end of my tunnel.  Additional research revealed there's "technically" an in between generation that I'm a part of, even though I've never heard of it before. Does that still count?  Maybe I've lived a sheltered life, but has "Generation Jones" ever come up in your dinner conversation?  It hasn't in mine.

Those born between 1954-1965 fall into the "Jonesers" category as they apparently are known.  According to Wikipedia, we were the children raised in the "optimistic '60s before the realities of the pessimistic '70s hit".  We dealt with things like Watergate, the cold War and the oil embargo.  For many of us, Jimmy Carter was the first president we voted for.  (Um, sorry about that.) People like Oprah, Jerry Seinfeld and President Obama run in our crowd.  Madonna and Prince brought us MTV.

Where does "Jones" come from, you ask?  Think, as in, "keeping up with the Jones".  Not very flattering but we're a competitive bunch, or so they say. But I guess it's better than being lumped into the Generation X crowd (1966-1980).  They're a bunch of "slackers" according to society's standards.

So here I sit eating crow.  I admit, I have not had many nice things in the past to say about "my people"-- the Baby Boom Generation.  But I felt better learning that in 1967, when I was 9 years old, Time magazine named "Middle Americans-- The Baby Boom Generation, as their "Persons of the Year".  Although I do wonder how they feel about that today.

Pondering life as a "fifty-something" now also includes the "Baby Boomer Generation" name tag.  I'm still adjusting to both labels with trepidation.  I've long since switched from Pepsi to Coke... so I could "Teach The World To Sing In Perfect Harmony" (1971), but maybe I should reconsider and step out of denial and explore my "roots" a little deeper, this time not as judgemental in my old age.

Do you have a generational "label"?
Welcome to TheFiftyFactor  -  Joanna


  1. Great blog. Funny and well-written. I'm also 50 and not exactly jumping up and down in unbridled joy at hitting this milestone.

    I've been following the whole Generation Jones thing pretty carefully, and am actually quite pleased to see our long-lost generation finally getting the recognition it deserves. No way we're Boomers!

    A couple of minor corrections: I think the phrase "Keeping up with the Joneses" is only a minor part of the reason for the term "Generation Jones". Here's a recent op-ed in USA TODAY by the guy who coined this term which gives a fuller explanation for the term:

    Also, the demographic baby boom ran through 1964, not 1963. It is important to distinguish between the post-WWII demographic boom in births vs. the cultural generations born during that era. Generations are a function of the common formative experiences of its members, not the fertility rates of its parents. Many experts now believe it breaks down this way:

    DEMOGRAPHIC boom in babies: 1946-1964
    Baby Boom GENERATION: 1942-1953
    Generation Jones: 1954-1965
    Generation X: 1966-1978

    And I found this page well worth looking at, it has a good overview of all this big national media attention which Generation Jones has been getting:

  2. Hello! Generation X'er is here (born in 1973) and I HATE the fact that we're supposedly all a bunch of slackers!

    Now, please give me something for nothing. :)


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