The Baby Boomer generation, most often defined as those born post World War II up through 1964, is hitting a milestone. The youngest boomers — those born in 1964 — are turning 50 this year. I’m one of them.
This is really happening.
I may be crazy, but I’m not crazy about turning 50. Author Richard Pérez-Peña is even less crazy about turning 50. He doesn’t want to be lumped in with the Boomers, despite that fact that he turned 50 last year. He wants people to understand there are two distinct camps of Baby Boomers: the early Boomers (just post-war) and the later Boomers like him. And me.
“The boom generation really has two distinct halves, which in my mind I call Boomer Classic and Boomer Reboot. The differences between them have to do, not surprisingly, with sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll — and economics and war. For a wide-ranging set of attitudes and cultural references, it matters whether you were a child in the 1940s and ‘50s, or in the 1960s and ‘70s.”
Pérez-Peña is right, without question, that there is a big difference between the early Boomers and the just-under-the-wire Boomers. In fact, my parents are early Boomers and here I am. We are the perfect outliers of the entire spectrum. And we’re culturally a little different, as one generation following another would be.
The Vietnam War is a major dividing factor. For my peers, we were far too young to experience it directly. We know of it mostly through television, film, books and interactions with veterans that we’ve met through our lives. For the Boomer Classics, Vietnam is a direct memory — either they went through it themselves or they knew / were directly related to someone who did.
Using the Vietnam War as a touchstone, you can see that the Boomer Reboots have more in common with Gen X and Gen Y / Millennials than we do with Boomer Classics.
Pérez-Peña cites many other significant cultural factors that divide the Boomer Classics from the Boomer Reboots. Music, for instance. For them, the British Invasion was a major change in pop culture. For us, by the time we became aware of it, it was already a footnote in history.
My resistance to being labeled a Boomer is that it means to be associated with being “old.” Pérez-Peña objects to the homogenization of Boomer constituents that just doesn’t seem to fit at both ends of the spectrum. I say we’re both right.
What do you think? Is Baby Boomer a meaningful term?
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Julian Rogers is a writer, editor, community manager and marketing communications consultant for high-achieving businesses — from solo entrepreneurs to large private companies. As principal of Juju Eye Communications, his focus is on your results. Find out what he’s thinking about on his blog: mrturophile.com, or connect with him on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
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