The phrase ‘OK, boomer” became a thing late in 2019.
It’s what younger people say when they want to dismiss members of the Baby Boom generation as being out of touch with what’s hip and groovy.
Depending on who you ask, I am a Boomer – but not really.
Jennifer Finney Boylan’s opinion piece published June 23 in the New York Times, “Mr. Jones and Me: Younger Baby Boomers Swing Left,” solved a mystery for me.
Born in 1959, I was too young for all the legendary 1960s events – the Summer of Love, Woodstock, Vietnam.
Things that were important for Boomers, who were teenagers in the late 1950s and early ’60s, were over and done by the time us tail-end Boomers came of age.
“Our formative years came in the wake of the 1973 oil shock, Watergate, the malaise of the Carter years and the Reagan recession of 1982,” Boylan wrote. “Above all, we resented the older boomers themselves – who we were convinced had things so much easier, and in whose shadow we’d been forced to spend our entire lives.”
“The events that made an impression on me were the Watergate hearings, stagflation, and the Carter and Reagan presidencies,” Jeffrey J. Williams wrote for the Chronicle of Higher Education. “Our music was different, too – OK, let’s forget Journey, but in our early 20s, we raised our lighters to some remarkable bands, like U2, the Cure, and, born in my year, Prince and Madonna.”
As a teenager, I remember Watergate, gas shortages and Billy Carter’s beer. I remember watching The Brady Bunch – not The Adventures Ozzie and Harriet. By the time I was watching Leave It To Beaver reruns, they seemed to belong to a time as distantly past as Daniel Boone or The Lone Ranger.
Baby Boomers grew up with I Love Lucy and Howdy Doody, Elvis and the Beatles.
For older Boomers, however, the assassination of JFK was a watershed moment. For example, 16-year-old Bill Clinton, our first Boomer president, met President Kennedy when he was a delegate to Boys Nation conference in Washington, D.C. In 1963.
If you go by the standard time frame definition of the Baby Boomer – 1946 to 1964 – then technically President Barack Obama, born in 1961 is also a Boomer. But that’s where Generation Jones comes in, and what differentiates the Clintons’ generation from the Obamas’ generation.
“The fact that most people have never even heard of Generation Jones is the most Generation Jones thing about Generation Jones,” Boylan stated.
Boylan says Generation Jones members were too young for the draft (which ended in 1973) but too old to have to register for it (starting in 1979).
She asks if there was a time when you cared more about CB radio than Twitter?
If you were styling in Earth shoes while playing with your Pet Rock, you are probably a member of Generation Jones.
Generation Jones includes those of us born between 1954 and 1965, and according to the marketing research that discovered this demographic which, unlike boomers born in the 1940s, mostly never lived in a world without television.
Marketing consultant Jonathan Pontell gave us the name Generation Jones to distinguish the ’54-’65 cohort from the Boomers proper (1942-1953) and from Generation X (1966-1979).
Vietnam is a key coordinate, Williams says – 1954 was the first birth year of those who came of age as the war was ending and who didn’t have to serve.
Pontell defines members of the Generation Jones as reliably conservative, with a healthy distrust of the government and a shared bitterness over being born too late.
Jonesers missed out on the wide-open sense of opportunity our older brothers and sisters had, resulting in a generation of “begrudgers,” Boylan says, which led to Generation Jones supporting Trump in 2016: “Hillary Clinton, to them, was the epitome of older baby boomer entitlement, and if Mr. Trump stood for anything, it was for the very things Gen Jones most identifies with: jealousy, resentment, self-pity.”
Pontell predicts Jonesers are now leaning left, after Trump’s fumbling response to the COVID-19 pandemic and Trump’s mocking of challenger Joe Biden’s senior moments.
“There are lots of seniors out there that also have senior moments,” Mr. according to Pontell. “They don’t really like the president mocking those one bit.”
I am not sure I totally relate to the general description of a Generation Jones, but at least discovering the existence of the Jonesers gives me a degree of separation from my older brothers, friends and family members and makes me feel slightly less dismissed by the phrase, “OK, Boomer.”
“Boomer” for the younger generation denotes failure and out-of-touch opinions. The generation that protested Vietnam and campaigned for civil rights are now the generation defending Confederate statues and condemning BLM. And I have to agree with the youngsters.
If there were ever halcyon days for Boomers, I sure missed out on them, and I suspect that’s a Generation Jones sentiment.
I’ve always felt like I was too late to the party that was America. By the time I turned 18, the country was finally starting to recover from 1973-1975 recession, only to grind to a halt in 1979 with the energy crisis. And it’s been pretty much one crisis or another ever since.
However, I have never thought that justice wouldn’t eventually triumph, and that progress wouldn’t eventually overcome the sedentary evil of complacency.
Maybe that’s a result of too much TV – another Generation Jones trademark.