… I know the answer: No one born on the cusp of the boomer/Gen X generations identifies as a boomer. While the baby boom ran from 1946 to 1964, even people born in the late 1950s told me over and over, “I’m not really a baby boomer.” Not even boomers wan… I know the answer: No one born on the cusp of the boomer/Gen X generations identifies as a boomer. While the baby boom ran from 1946 to 1964, even people born in the late 1950s told me over and over, “I’m not really a baby boomer.” Not even boomers want to be boomers.
I was born in 1956 and I can tell you that there are two separate cohorts within the boomer generation. The Boomer generation is so long one boomer could be the father or mother of another boomer, and that is completely ridiculous. How could we not feel different?
There is a larger gap between people five years older than me and those, like my sons, who are 30 years younger than me.
There are four big reasons for the Boomer division: The Beatles, Civil Rights, Vietnam, and digital technology.
Anyone who grew up listening to The Beatles was part of a cultural transformation that rejected the old values. The Beatles' musical evolution made it cool to grow long hair, use drugs, reject the war in Vietnam, embrace Eastern philosophies, and explore sexual freedom. (As a matter of fact, many people in Russia claim it was the Beatles that eventually brought down the Soviet Union.)
I have friends who grew up listening to pop music by Elvis Presley and Perry Como and it feels like they grew up in a different world.
The Civil Rights movement also represented a major philosophical breaking point within the Boomers, as the boomer children born in the late 50s grew up watching the fight for equality on the TV at the same time we were learning about the Constitution in school. Equal Rights seemed to be a natural part of the evolution of our country, not some revolutionary attack on the American Dream.
Vietnam was the first TV war. There were enough images of carnage and horror to open the eyes of younger boomers, while people born ten years before me grew up with the radio and stories of WWII glory and righteousness. This was the first time ever that a large number of young men had the awareness to decide if they wanted to fight in an immoral war, or go to Canada to avoid the draft.
Finally, we have the rise of technology. My group was the first cohort that used computers (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs were born less than a year before me). I was in college and learned programming, then used spread sheets and databases for business purposes. My design career happened because I was familiar with the MAC and graphics programs as the desktop revolution made the analog print world (and all the traditionally trained designers) obsolete.
My group shifted effortlessly from pinball machines to video games, welcomed the efficiency of email over the post office and fax machines, and flowed with the evolution of communication technology from pagers to cell phones to smart phones.
If people want to blame the Boomers, they should. Bush, Clinton and Trump are as foreign and out of step to me as they are to the millennials.