Baby Boomers and how we/they are perceived in today's world

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MaxE
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05 Jun 2021, 10:30 am

I'll start by stating that I am fully aware that the popular concept of a "Baby Boomer" is hugely America-centric and I won't try to address how it might apply to other countries, "Western" or not. But feel free to contribute your own understanding.

So I was born in 1952 and was old enough to experience anti-Vietnam War protest but too young to face any real threat of being conscripted to fight in that war. I remember the sexual revolution, the Counter-Culture, the New Left, Watergate, the rise of environmentalism including the first Earth Day, the 2 Energy Crises of the 70s, along with the long period of economic malaise that followed, and the gradual rise in acceptance of the use of recreational drugs before the Reagan Revolution brought that to a fairly abrupt end.

I can remember my fellow boomers having extremely left-wing views in their youth, and even more so those born a few years before I was, as well as the outspoken anti-materialism, followed by the cheesy hedonism of the later 70s (as opposed to the blatant materialism of the 80s).

I would not have expected my generation to be largely associated with economic greed and reactionary points of view at this stage in history, and I wonder how much if this is a misperception or whether there is some confusion over who is or is not a "boomer".

Thoughts anyone? Thanks!


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05 Jun 2021, 3:11 pm

I was born in 1957. I knew about all of that 60s stuff because my dad had the news on all the time. My neighborhood was a cop/firemen-type neighborhood so I remember "America Love It or Leave It" and "Only a good hippie is a dead hippie" and casual use of bigoted slurs both as hate and what was called "ethnic humor". By the time I was a teen in the 70s Watergate was the political event, "sex drugs and rock and roll" as well as long hair was mainstream. But everybody kept saying how apathetic we were. One day our professor was talking about the 60s on our campus and how the students took over the dining hall. The class broke out in laughter. The Dining hall meant bad food for us. We were too young for the 60s but old enough to be negatively affected by the hangover. There was that Disco hedonism but that was not us and certainly not me for obvious reasons. The 80s? I did not know any yuppies, anybody like the Darryl Hannah and Charlie Sheehan characters from the movie "Wall Street"

Back in 2017, I started a thread "Is it all the baby boomers fault?". I still stand by my OP.

Quote:
The Google verdict is in. A definitive yes for the worst generation ever

Our parents are ruining the entire world

One Author Argues 'Sociopathic' Baby Boomers Have Hurt America

How the baby boomers destroyed everything
An on and on it goes.

What it does say is the chickens do come home to roost. It was the boomers who said do not trust anybody over thirty, their parent's music and lifestyle were "square" and they have spent a lot of time and money trying to avoid the inevitable. Not fun being on the other side of it is it? Not a surprising result. The net is dominated by Millennials based on technology invented by boomers.

But is it true? As in most of these situations yes and no.

The boomers certainly have never really let the bitter divisions of the 60's go and that has and still is infecting American politics. But one is judged on what you do with what is given to you. Millennials were given a bad political and economic climate true, but MRA, Alt Right, SJW, Antifa, those are not boomer phenomena.

The other charge is that selfish boomers ruined the economy. Well, selfish elitist boomers certainly destroyed a great thing, but most boomers were victims of them more than the cause.

Another charge is that workaholic individualist boomers destroyed family life. Well, some of it was the thing we called "women's liberation" or that dirty word "feminism". Do you all really want to go back to the 50's when if you still single at 30 you were viewed as mentally ill and if you were female you were an "old maid"? Do not think so. Boomers changed that. Well, some did, mostly we were workaholics because we had to be due to the changing economy caused by the elite boomers.

And if need to get away from it all and listen to some music which generation had it better is debatable because everything is, it is but not much of a debate.


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06 Jun 2021, 10:12 am

I was just going to say, a whole generation shouldn't be viewed as a unitary phenomenon. The life experience of the man who went to Vietnam and came back with PTSD is definitely very different than that of the "draft-dodger." The women who had abortions as the residue of "free love" were not unchanged by the experience. Likewise, women bumping up against the glass ceiling often put off childbearing until it was too late, and some felt that to be a loss.
Some Boomers did a lot of drugs but others really did not. Politically, you have your Bernie Sanders types and on the other hand, the Ayn Randers.

So, not so different than what ASPartOfMe wrote.


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06 Jun 2021, 11:01 am

ASPartOfMe wrote:
Back in 2017, I started a thread "Is it all the baby boomers fault?". I still stand by my OP.

I took a look at that thread, which I believe I can remember seeing but wasn't aware it had survived so many years.

Actually, my post was more about what Boomers experienced in their youth and how those days of youth appear when seen from the perspective of almost a half-century. This is why I posted in In-Depth Adult Life Discussion rather than PP&R.

I wanted to look back from the perspective of "was all that generational struggle really worth it?" and "was anything really accomplished in the long run?" I have read that the BB generation was the result of kids being born into large families which caused them to feel a closer kinship with their generational peers as opposed to their parents, leading to the Generation Gap. In my case I was an only child and did not have a close-knit circle of friends. As a younger adolescent, I did not much identify with my peers but later on became involved in some of the activities such as anti-war protests out of a desire to fit in. But I didn't really understand how those participating automatically knew the exact opinions to hold. After many years of life, I have come to understand that people form their opinions first and foremost according to what their friends believe which is why it's almost impossible to influence other peoples' thinking.

As for your thread, early on there is a link to a quiz that looks very interesting but the link now takes you elsewhere on that site. Very frustrating. I wonder why the quiz was taken down.

One other point I do want to make that would have been appropriate for that thread (and on which I had hoped the quiz might actually offer some perspective): I happen to think the way we divide recent generations is just plain wrong. In simple terms, I believe that "late boomers" have more in common with "early Gen-X" than with "early boomers" and "late Gen-X" has more in common with millennials than with "early Gen-X". I tend to believe that the "OK Boomer" animosity is more aimed at the "late Boomer/early Gen-X" group than the Boomer generation as traditionally identified. I won't try to present evidence to support this, but I think it could lead to an interesting discussion.


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06 Jun 2021, 11:24 am

As a Hippie Mod who's left over from the 60s, I tend to glorify the 60s as that wonderful time to be alive. London was swinging and San Francisco was grooving. Youth were defying the gender binary for the first time in history. TV sets also looked a lot nicer back than. Parents asking their teens and young adults, "Why must you go to Cockney's house to listen to The Kinks? Can't you watch The Monkees at Kevin's house instead?"


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ASPartOfMe
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06 Jun 2021, 2:22 pm

MaxE wrote:
ASPartOfMe wrote:
Back in 2017, I started a thread "Is it all the baby boomers fault?". I still stand by my OP.

I took a look at that thread, which I believe I can remember seeing but wasn't aware it had survived so many years.

Actually, my post was more about what Boomers experienced in their youth and how those days of youth appear when seen from the perspective of almost a half-century. This is why I posted in In-Depth Adult Life Discussion rather than PP&R.

I wanted to look back from the perspective of "was all that generational struggle really worth it?" and "was anything really accomplished in the long run?" I have read that the BB generation was the result of kids being born into large families which caused them to feel a closer kinship with their generational peers as opposed to their parents, leading to the Generation Gap. In my case I was an only child and did not have a close-knit circle of friends. As a younger adolescent, I did not much identify with my peers but later on became involved in some of the activities such as anti-war protests out of a desire to fit in. But I didn't really understand how those participating automatically knew the exact opinions to hold. After many years of life, I have come to understand that people form their opinions first and foremost according to what their friends believe which is why it's almost impossible to influence other peoples' thinking.

As for your thread, early on there is a link to a quiz that looks very interesting but the link now takes you elsewhere on that site. Very frustrating. I wonder why the quiz was taken down.

One other point I do want to make that would have been appropriate for that thread (and on which I had hoped the quiz might actually offer some perspective): I happen to think the way we divide recent generations is just plain wrong. In simple terms, I believe that "late boomers" have more in common with "early Gen-X" than with "early boomers" and "late Gen-X" has more in common with millennials than with "early Gen-X". I tend to believe that the "OK Boomer" animosity is more aimed at the "late Boomer/early Gen-X" group than the Boomer generation as traditionally identified. I won't try to present evidence to support this, but I think it could lead to an interesting discussion.

Above I touched on the surface what was and was not accomplished and destroyed and the hippie to yuppie transition behind the “Ok boomer” taunt. To go into more detail I was in college in the the late 1970s and the only political movement of note was a handful of people protesting against apartheid in South Africa which was successful.
It was an apolitical and inbetween time. Vietnam and Watergate was over and the Reagan era was in the future.

As to which generation has been most successful, defining successful as actually changing things irregardless if the change is good or bad Gen Z, a generation I did not mention in that 2017 thread, blows every other generation except the Greatest Generation out of the water. Second wave feminism was a major change, completely redefining gender identity and sexuality is another level. Baby Boomers had some massive anti war protests, the biggest of whom Gen Z has done with regularity. Anti Vietnam war demo’s were mostly limited to urban areas and campuses. BLM protests occurred in practically every town small and large.

Boomers protested against big business and changed things on the surface such as casual Fridays, health food in the company cafeteria etc. Gen Z either as employees or consumers has forced companies not only to go “woke”, but to use their money to effect radical to revolutionary change.


As far as early Gen X and late boomer bieng the same Generation you discussed this in your 2019 thread
MaxE wrote:
To give some perspective, I don't consider people Mike Pence's age or younger to be proper Baby Boomers. That group, in my experience, does trend way more conservative and are more properly aligned with Generation X. You may have heard the term Generation Jones:

https://timeline.com/generation-jones-baby-boom-923270cb2010

If you insist on lumping them in with the Baby Boomers, then it definitely skews the numbers in a different direction.

I could give a number of reasons why this is so BTW. Here is a quote from the article cited above:

Quote:
Today, an older Baby Boomer once again occupies the highest office of the land, not that we had much choice, considering both candidates’ ages. Donald Trump earned 53% of the vote among the over-45 bloc. (Only 39.5% of voters aged 18–44 voted for him.) But while older Baby Boomers skew Democratic, younger Boomers have tended to vote more Republican than the average. Partisanship varies widely within established generations, especially among Baby Boomers. In other words, it doesn’t make sense to conflate all Boomers with reformed hippies. Many of them never were.


Generation Jones was coined by referencing the term “Jonesing” a term I nor anybody I knew actually used. As I mentioned at the beginning of my reply the experience of the people old enough to participate in the 60s counterculture and my peers who were to young is substantially different. But to both groups the 60s counterculture was still defining culture experiences be it classic rock, long hair, casual sex, and drugs. Baby boom is defined by an massive increase increase in births. The peak year of the baby boom was 1957, so why define us as a wholly separate generation? I prefer to split the baby boom generation into two main subgroups. Vietnam Era Boomers which experienced in their teen and college years what most people associate with baby boomers. For my peers I think “Post Counterculture boomers” is a better term. “Post” as in “Post Punk” defines something not exactly the same but so heavily influenced by the original it is hard to imagine it occurring without the original.

Gen X’s teen and college years defining experiences were Reagan, New Wave and Grunge, and the Personal Computer revolution, video games/MTV. Different.


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06 Jun 2021, 5:16 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:

Generation Jones was coined by referencing the term “Jonesing” a term I nor anybody I knew actually used.

I had always assumed the term "Jonesing" was based on the song "Love Jones" and the Cheech and Chong parody thereof ("Basketball Jones") please see Wikipedia Brighter Side of Darkness entry.

In my opinion the real dividing line between what I would consider to be my generation and those born too late for me to see them as a part of the same generation as myself would be those born in 1959 or later, the year my brother-in-law was born or the year the young woman was born whom I dated who once made a remark after I mentioned the Vietnam War in conversation, to the effect that she was too young to remember it. As to why I was dating someone that much younger, well that's a different story. Well if you were born in 1959 maybe you hadn't actually grown up with MTV but you came of age at the time of the Reagan Revolution and you may have believed yourself to have benefited from it, after seeing your parents suffer through the years of Jimmy Carter's malaise, and dollars to doughnuts you vote Republican today. To repeat what I may have said in 2019, if you don't remember Vietnam you ain't a Boomer.

As for your remarks regarding Gen-Z, they are interesting and worth thinking about. Some of this may apply to younger Millennials, but the latter are now settling down to raise kids which is what more or less took Boomers out of the action in the 80s, so yeah Gen-Z may well be the shapers of our future.


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07 Jun 2021, 1:07 am

I've always wondered about the meaning of Joneses in the Spirit of the West song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxYmF21UXuA

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07 Jun 2021, 12:06 pm

"Jonesing" is a take on the saying "Keeping up with the Joneses". It meant if your neighbor got a color TV you had to buy one, they put an extension on the house you did so as not to be "lower" than them. The theory is Generation Jones having arrived just as the party was ending was craving or Jonesing the things their older siblings got and experienced. Not only in politics, the 60s were boom economic times, the 70s were inflation and recession at the same time, gas lines etc.


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07 Jun 2021, 12:21 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
I was born in 1957. I knew about all of that 60s stuff because my dad had the news on all the time. My neighborhood was a cop/firemen-type neighborhood so I remember "America Love It or Leave It" and "Only a good hippie is a dead hippie" and casual use of bigoted slurs both as hate and what was called "ethnic humor". By the time I was a teen in the 70s Watergate was the political event, "sex drugs and rock and roll" as well as long hair was mainstream...
All this applies to me, too.

I also remember that "playtime" was simpler -- no video games, no personal computers, no mobile devices -- when we wanted to play, we either went outside and roamed around, or stayed inside and played board games.  The point is that we played with other people, not with images on a TV screen.

("Other people, grampa?  You mean like, in the same room?")

Sometimes we would watch TV, especially if the weather was right and we could get all four channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS) in our area.  Otherwise, sex was dirty, the air was clean, and families went to church on Sunday.



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07 Jun 2021, 12:28 pm

Why is Generation Jones arguably more conservative? . We got the 60s hangover so supposedly we are more suspicious of massive government spending and anything-goes sexuality.

I have a theory about why a lot of people in this Generation are so conspiracy theory-minded. Think about what being a conservative was like in the mid to late 70s. Your law and order man had to resign because he was a crook, the war you supported ended in humiliating defeat. Democrats had the Presidency and made massive gains to their already ironclad majorities in both houses of Congress. The counterculture was mainstream. If you were a conservative Poli Sci major in 1978 campus had to be a pretty lonely place. In the wake of Watergate, there were all these TV shows and movies such as "Executive Action" depicting government and business leaders involved in nefarious conspiracies.

Then after the Reagan era comes Clinton. The Clintons are everything you hate ex hippie ex anti-war protesters. Easy to believe their success is some sort of conspiracy. Not only that no matter what you try to pin on them they swat it away. They "get away with it" again and again and again and again and again. They must be evil genius with support of what would become known as the deep state.


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07 Jun 2021, 1:52 pm

Fnord wrote:
ASPartOfMe wrote:
I was born in 1957. I knew about all of that 60s stuff because my dad had the news on all the time. My neighborhood was a cop/firemen-type neighborhood so I remember "America Love It or Leave It" and "Only a good hippie is a dead hippie" and casual use of bigoted slurs both as hate and what was called "ethnic humor". By the time I was a teen in the 70s Watergate was the political event, "sex drugs and rock and roll" as well as long hair was mainstream...
All this applies to me, too.

I also remember that "playtime" was simpler -- no video games, no personal computers, no mobile devices -- when we wanted to play, we either went outside and roamed around, or stayed inside and played board games.  The point is that we played with other people, not with images on a TV screen.

("Other people, grampa?  You mean like, in the same room?")

Sometimes we would watch TV, especially if the weather was right and we could get all four channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS) in our area.  Otherwise, sex was dirty, the air was clean, and families went to church on Sunday.

You did not have any UHF channels in Michigan?


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07 Jun 2021, 2:30 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
Fnord wrote:
ASPartOfMe wrote:
I was born in 1957. I knew about all of that 60s stuff because my dad had the news on all the time. My neighborhood was a cop/firemen-type neighborhood so I remember "America Love It or Leave It" and "Only a good hippie is a dead hippie" and casual use of bigoted slurs both as hate and what was called "ethnic humor". By the time I was a teen in the 70s Watergate was the political event, "sex drugs and rock and roll" as well as long hair was mainstream...
All this applies to me, too.  I also remember that "playtime" was simpler -- no video games, no personal computers, no mobile devices -- when we wanted to play, we either went outside and roamed around, or stayed inside and played board games.  The point is that we played with other people, not with images on a TV screen.  ("Other people, grampa?  You mean like, in the same room?")  Sometimes we would watch TV, especially if the weather was right and we could get all four channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS) in our area.  Otherwise, sex was dirty, the air was clean, and families went to church on Sunday.
You did not have any UHF channels in Michigan?
Our only UHF channel was also our only PBS channel (#23 -- WKAR).



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08 Jun 2021, 7:11 am

I don't think history will be kind. It should be obvious why reactionaries like myself hold the Boomers in contempt, but they seem to be hated from all corners.

Anyway here's a book review of Boomers: The Men and Women Who Promised Freedom and Delivered Disaster that sounds worth reading:

https://thelampmagazine.com/2021/06/03/ ... -reformed/

Helen Andrews just is not mean enough. She originally set out, in this enjoyable and often moving set of essays, to emulate Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians and deflate the great balloon of 1960s self-righteousness by puncturing some of its tenderer parts. But—and this is to her credit—she lacks Strachey’s hissing, feline spite. Strachey is of course highly enjoyable if you have any malice in you, and I certainly do. Yet his achievement in undermining Victorian rectitude was a bad thing. After nearly a century of Bloomsbury ideas about culture, morals, and religion dominating our lives, many of us might seriously consider asking the Victorians back to clean up the mess we made. Imagine Victorian morals armed with twenty-first-century innovation and science. I can hardly wait. But Helen Andrews genuinely loves justice too much to barbecue her victims until they actually scream, and so her book succeeds in a way she perhaps did not intend.

While not quite impaling (among others) Steve Jobs, Camille Paglia, Al Sharpton, and Sonia Sotomayor, she deals brief, eviscerating sideswipes at the ideas and follies that brought such people into being and sustain them now. For this reviewer, a partially reformed 1960s bohemian, Bolshevik, and general scapegrace, these sideswipes were pure joy, the sort that make me cry out with recognition, or pound the arm of my chair. I say “partially reformed” because the things once inside me that the 1960s broke remain forever broken. I cannot be what I would have been if this had not happened, and I am not at all sure I would want to be. My main use to civilization, as a resister and critic of these things, comes from knowing who and what is now my enemy, in a way that very few conservatives do. It is a skill I largely retain, which is why I think that “Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll” is a much clearer statement of the revolutionary program than “Workers of all Lands, Unite!”

So I saw repeated flashes in this volume of another book I very much hope Andrews will write, a lament for the great loss we have all suffered and which cannot possibly be repaired until we admit it, if then. Such a book will be so sad that it will make the sound of bagpipes played after a funeral on a windy hillside sound cheerful. But it has to come from someone at the beginning of life, not from some gnarled survivor of the lost world before the revolutions. Her opening chapter, a general segment on Boomers rather than on any individual, is the best part. Here is perhaps the most poignant passage in the book:

"As a woman, if I had been born in another century, my schooling might well have stopped at age twelve. On the other hand, in this age I attended some of the best schools in the world until I was twenty-one and still didn’t receive an education those benighted eras would have considered standard. Is this necessarily an improvement?"

...


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08 Jun 2021, 7:27 am

The minimal age requirement to be president of the USA is 35. I believe Kennedy was still the youngest at ~43. Historically, presidents tended to be in their 50s/60s. Old enough and wise enough but not too old.

Not only did Regan stand out, but both the current and most recent presidents were even older when they assumed office. I also look at people like Dr. Fauci and Nacny Pelosi and think: These people were all born in the 1940s. They're entering their 80s. And they're still in power!?!?

And I guess they're actually pre-boomers or early-boomers, but I feel that their parents' generation didn't hold on to power this long. It seems like the pre and early boomer generation wants to remain in control much longer in life than was commonplace in previous generations. So, when do the subsequent (and now-aging) generations get to test the waters?

In fact, at this point, I doubt a "classic" boomer born in the 1950s will ever become president.

Ben Franklin really stood out at the Constitutional Convention as the wise elder. The rest of the framers were much younger. Today, this many people in their 80s in politics in kind of unique to the pre-boomer, early boomers, and I'm not so sure it's a good thing.



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08 Jun 2021, 8:46 am

Some of my former high-school classmates have remarked that no one our age is a major celebrity or politician.

While there must be exceptions, I cannot think of any famous people in their mid-sixties -- and I mean world-class all-the-time famous, not just someone who has had their fifteen minutes of fame and then faded away or completely disappeared.

It is as if fame has skipped over the Baby Boomer generation ... but I could be wrong.