For years, I’ve been classified as a part of the “Baby Boom” generation. In fact, the year of my birth has been described as the height of the Baby Boom, because it was the year of the greatest number of births in the United States.
But now people are starting to argue that those of us born between 1955 and 1964 shouldn’t be viewed as Boomers at all. Instead, we should be categorized as part of “Generation Jones.” The argument is that we just didn’t have shared experiences with the true Baby Boom generation, which was born between 1946 and 1955. We didn’t watch Howdy Doody or I Love Lucy when it was first broadcast. (Countless reruns apparently don’t count.) But it wasn’t just TV that was different. Music was different. We were too young to be true hippies during the ’60s, or to be at serious risk of fighting in Vietnam. So really, we don’t belong with the much-maligned Boomers, but should be off on our own. (“Generation Jones,” a pretty lame name, refers to our “generation’s” alleged “keeping up with the Joneses” yearning.)
This seems like a dumb thing to argue about to me, but then I think trying to divide people into arbitrarily defined “generations” is stupid, too. People born in different years and in different places, even if they are born in the same 10-year span, are bound to have as many distinct experiences as they do common ones. Sure, the same TV shows were being broadcast on the same three channels, and the music played on pop radio was the same for everyone, but if you had a sibling who was a lot older than you, you probably had no choice but to watch different TV shows and listen to different radio stations than someone who lived in a house where they controlled the dial. If you had older siblings who were fighting in Vietnam, your experiences and childhood memories were different. The closest common cultural touchstones were probably shared by people who were in high school at the same time, but even then the experiences of kids in southern California, the Midwest, and Brooklyn were bound to be a lot different. So why try to shoehorn us into one “generation” and act like we all have the same approach to the world and the same perspective on life? It’s pointless and phony.
I don’t care whether I’m officially a Boomer, or not, but don’t now try to slide me over into “Generation Jones.” At this point, I guess I’d rather just be myself.