I Am Not a Baby Boomer
Every few months or so, I am made instantly furious. There will be an article or website that makes a blanket statement about “baby boomers.” It usually says something about their selfishness or ingratitude or whatever. I usually agree, then I’ll read the details, where I invariably find that “baby boomers” are defined in these articles as being born between mid-1946 to 1964. This range is repeated by the U.S. Census Department.
And that’s what makes me furious… the idea that I, born in 1961, am a “baby boomer” is ridiculous.
My older sisters, born in 1948 and 1950, were baby boomers. They were born into that post-WWII time of plenty, with a house in a suburb over-run by mobs of kids, with a school system where the sciences were emphasized so we could keep up with the Russians in the space race. In high school, they witnessed the arrival and the hoopla surrounding the Beatles. They wore bell-bottoms and had a flip on their hair and were in college during the Summer of Love. Our parents could afford to put them through college. They studied things like teaching and art, with no one pressuring them to major in something that would allow them to make more money.
My early life experience was completely different from theirs. I was born into a recession, where my father was laid off from work for months at a time; hot dogs were all we could afford to eat. I learned about the “energy crisis.” There were few kids in my neighborhood; my elementary and high schools were extremely poor. I was seven years old during the Summer of Love, not exactly old enough to be part of a revolution. I had to work multiple jobs through college. There wasn’t any booming when I was young.
Some reports would have the year 1961 being part of the Generation X, but I tend to think of them as the kids I hired to work for me at the coffeehouse I used to own. Their parents were boomers and the kids spent a lot of time trying to find ways to be cooler than their parents. Since those parents were living in communes and making acid in bathtubs when they were in college, the kids just couldn’t keep up. So they did what they could to annoy the folks: they listened to disco.
I’m not the first person born in the early 1960s to find the label of baby boomer completely inappropriate. “Generation Jones” is the answer to that. Born between 1954 and 1965, it is a generation characterized by pragmatism, skepticism, and a certain yearning. The term was coined by cultural historian Jonathon Pontell to label the between generation.
As a generation belonged to my our President of the United States, Barack Obama, I hope that it starts to get more respect, and we stop being called “baby boomers.”