Exploring the Generations – “Late Baby Boomers”
Recently I was talking with a good friend who is a Gen X and married to a “Late Baby Boomer” about the differences in how her husband sees the world and how the older Boomers view things. For many Late Baby Boomers, born between 1958 and 1964, the tag or label of “Boomer”, while accurate for their generation, never felt like they were in the club and have never identified with the whole “Boomer Movement.”
There are reasons for someone like her husband or my sister (Born in 1958) to feel this way. They were born at the tail end of the Boomer generation and have very little in common with someone born in 1940’s. They are really members of “Generation Jones”, a sub group of the Boomer Generation. Generation Jones is a term coined by Jonathan Pontell, a Los Angeles marketing and political consultant to describe the Late Boomers. The name “Generation Jones” derives from a number of things, the “keeping up with the Joneses” of our youth, as well as the slang term “jonesin” that teens used to describe any craving, it is a part of who they are, it came from their childhoods.
The Boomers were the biggest generation in America until recently when they were eclipsed by the Millennials and number about 80 million strong. Late Boomers or Generation Jones never truly identified with the typical traits and description of “Baby Boomers”. Late Boomers or “Gen Jones” members were riding bikes and playing with dolls back when early boomers were fighting in Vietnam, protesting the draft and getting stoned at Woodstock.
Jonesers were too young to be part of the protests of the sixties, rather than being Flower Children, they were babies. While the Early Boomers were out leaving their mark on the world, Jonesers were still in elementary school and by the time they came of age, the world had changed.
Drilling Down through the Boomers:
While the press has spent countless hours focused on the graying of the Woodstock generation boomers those born after 1958, missed Woodstock and the anti-war movement. Their coming-of-age decade was the 1970s, not the 1960s. Vietnam was far-away, most of them have no memory of Vietnam’s personal impact.
Jonesers were children in the idealistic ’60s, searched for their identity in the ’70s under the shadow of Watergate, and scrambled for their place in the world as young adults in the ’80s. They were defined by gas lines and 20% interest rates. Their cultural touchstones were groups like the Carpenters and Steely Dan (on eight-track tapes then later on cassette tapes), and shows like “All in the Family” and “Charlie’s Angels” and were tuning into “Soul Train.” They grew up watching The Brady Bunch, not Leave It to Beaver.
Bryan Adams’ hit song “Summer of ’69″ was allegedly originally titled “Summer of ’75″, but the record company insisted he change the title to “Summer of ’69″ to appeal to Boomers even though Adams himself was a Joneser and only 8 yrs. old in ’69. Most Jonesers remember gas lines and even / odd license plate days to fill up with gas, not hippie “Chevy vans”. As Pontell describes them, “They were wide-eyed, not tie-dyed,”
Older boomers set the changes in motion; Jonesers grew up with the impact. They went to integrated schools, they grew up with a doubling of the divorce rate and their mothers returning to work out of necessity, they were the first generation to realize all the implications of the 1960s including women’s rights, civil rights, abortion and the changing of family structure. They were a too late for the “we can change the world” attitude of the Early Boomers and too early for the hopelessness of a world gone crazy that Generation Xers inherited. They have been described as “practical idealists.”
These Jonesers tend to be less ideological than early boomers, more respectful of contrary opinions, more pragmatic and a lot less likely to get glassy eyed when remembering the 1960s, according to historians, marketers and pollsters.
Pontell said he came up with the label Generation Jones because he regarded those later boomers as a lost, anonymous generation. Among their traits are a competitive drive (a need to keep up with the Joneses) and an intense, often-unrewarded yearning — in the argot of the 1970s, this generation always has a Jones for something more.
“This generation had big expectations, but it was confronted with a souring economy that left it with a certain unrequited Jonesing quality,” Pontell said.
“Older boomers had this naive assumption that you could get rid of the bad and the good would be wonderful,” said Ann Clurman, executive vice president of the Futures Company and coauthor of “Generation Ageless,” a treatise on baby boomers. “Younger boomers tend to say there is bad and good in everything, and nothing is perfect.”
The Late Boomers or Jonesers Common Experiences:
Came of age in the era of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan
News reports about Watergate and Iran interrupted our favorite TV shows.
School was a safe place
Could legally drink at 18 but did not have to worry about the draft
Pong was the first video game they played
Remember a life before remote controls, microwaves, cell phones, and satellite TV.
Worried about the 1973 Oil Crisis, the 1979 Energy Crisis, and Iran.
Nuclear war with the Soviet Union was a ominous threat and the Russians were evil.
Disco: Love or hate it, was everywhere. Sparkles and cocaine seemed sophisticated.
The words inflation and recession were part of our daily vocabulary.
Argued over the Jackson 5 vs. The Osmonds
Purchased mood rings and pet rocks