Irony: The generation that said “I hope I die before I get old” has gotten old.
According to Wikipedia, these are the generations of the 20th Century:
Here is what they had to say about the Baby Boomers:
Baby boomers (also known as boomers) are the demographic cohort following the Silent Generation and preceding Generation X. The Baby Boom generation is most often defined as those individuals born between 1946 and 1964.
In Western Europe and North America, boomers are widely associated with privilege, as many grew up during a period of increasing affluence due in part to widespread post-war government subsidies in housing and education. As a group, baby boomers were wealthier, more active and more physically fit than any preceding generation and were the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time. They were also the generation that reached peak levels of income in the workplace and could, therefore, enjoy the benefits of abundant food, clothing, retirement programs, and even “midlife-crisis” products.[clarification needed] However, this generation also has been criticized often for its increases in consumerism which others saw as excessive.
The boomers have tended to think of themselves as a special generation, very different from preceding and subsequent generations. In the 1960s and 1970s, as a relatively large number of young people entered their late teens—the oldest turned 18 in 1964—they, and those around them, created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort and the changes brought about by their size in numbers. This rhetoric had an important impact in the self-perceptions of the boomers, as well as their tendency to define the world in terms of generations, which was a relatively new phenomenon. The baby boom has been described variously as a “shockwave” and as “the pig in the python”.
I was born in 1960, which makes me a Boomer. Most or all of us here are Boomers or come pretty darn close. I saw something once that referred to boomers as the “born to matter” generation. We were the first generation raised to believe that we were going to change the world. We were a generation of idealists. We were also the first generation raised on television.
But what have Boomers accomplished?
Most of the big events in our lives were not of our doing. JFK is often associated with Boomers, but he was part of the Greatest Generation, as were RFK and MLK. Their assassins were pre-Boomers as well. Boomers watched a man walk on the moon, but they didn’t put him there. The Boomers had Woodstock, but Rock & Roll music wasn’t invented by the Boomers. Neither were computers.
The Civil Rights Movement wasn’t ours. Some of us participated in Women’s Liberation, but the leaders of that movement were from an earlier generation. Lots of Boomers fought in Vietnam, and still more protested the war, but serving in Vietnam was more something that we endured rather than something we accomplished, and the effect of the antiwar protests is debatable and they were not exclusive to Boomers.
So what have Boomers accomplished? Not much.
As a group we are wealthier than our predecessors, but how much of that prosperity was due to being lucky to live in a prosperous age? We grew up prosperous too, but while some of us got richer, the inequality between rich and poor has grown during our lifetimes.
There have been four Boomer Presidents – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. At least three of those men will not be considered “great” presidents. Clinton and Obama ran “change” campaigns specifically designed to appeal to the idealism of Boomers. What memorable and lasting legislation did Boomers produce? What government programs did we create? What have we done with government except watch it bloat?
Our generation made “party” into a verb and changed the rules of sexual behavior. The results of this liberalization of morality include AIDS, a herpes epidemic, high divorce rates, single parenthood, a crack cocaine epidemic, and disco. We got wasted, and wasted our potential.
It’s not that Baby Boomers are bad, it’s just that we could have been so much better. We didn’t change the world, the world changed us.