Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Talkin’ Bout My Generation

(Special thanks to Wikipedia, my favorite second brain, for what you are about to read.)

The Police had a song called “Born in the Fifties” on their 1978 album Outlandos d’Amour. I loved that album and can still belt out any of the cuts, which appear therein, but something always tripped me up. It was the lyrics of the refrain of the song; “We were BORN… born in the fifties! BORN… born in the fifties!” No matter how much I wanted to identify myself with the band or as much as I loved that song I couldn’t honestly sing those words. I was not a “Baby Boomer”. Oh I could sing along with the best of ‘em but I would never be one of them.

Jack Kerouac wrote a depressing book called, “On The Road”. It is a hard read but worth the trip. This man influenced an entire generation of thinkers, writers and artists. He was from the “Silent Generation”. Kerouac coined the term, “Beat Generation”, as in, “This is one beat generation,” as he was speaking of his peers, himself and the times they were living in. Even though I was depressed with “On The Road”, the story has a way of growing on you; there is an epic quality to his both literary and geographic ramblings. As much as I’d like to call myself a “Beatnik”, I cannot.

Tom Brokaw in his 1998 book, “The Greatest Generation” argued that the soldiers who fought in World War II were among, “the greatest generation any society has produced.” He reasoned that the soldiers “fought not for the fame and recognition, but because it was the right thing to do.” Some historians criticized this concept saying that it was a slap to the side of the head for the Baby Boomers who, by the way, owe their entire existence to “The Greatest Generation”. As important to our world history as “The Greatest Generation” is there's no possible way I could stand in their ranks.

“Why is that?” you might ask. I’ll tell you why… it’s because I am “Generation X”; pure and simple. Please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_generations to see where you fit. Because I was born in 1968 that puts me firmly into Generation X territory and as much as I’d like to sing with Sting or be on the road with Jack; they are not of my generation. I appreciate and love ‘em both but when they were at the height of their powers they were playing for another crowd. …Hey, I was 10 when Outlandos d’Amour was released.

So here’s the rundown… There’s the Lost Generation (people who came of age in the United States after WWI), the Greatest Generation (WWII), the Silent Generation (a generation born between two world wars. My father was part of the Silent Generation.), the Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964, give or take.), Generation X (1965 – 1979), Generation Y (1980 – 1986), the Echo Boom (1987 – 1990), and Generation Z (1990 – 2008). Generation Z “are the people that are born in the 1990s and will reach adulthood in the 2010s and enter the workforce around 2015-2020. This group of people are generally thought to be instant minded, as they are born in the world of digital technology and gadgets.” GZ is our future.

GZ has no idea who The Police are (or were), if Outlandos d’Amour is a decent album at all or, for that matter, what an “Album” is. Oh well, such is the way of things. We stand on the shoulders of all who have come before our time. Who knows where Generation Z’s children will take us? I’d like to be around to see whatever happens happen next.

Only time will tell.


Bob said...

I had always heard the Baby Boomer genreation was through 1965.

These labels I am uncomfortable with. How could one child of a family be baby boomer and another Gen X?

Frankly, I do not identify with either of those generations well.

BTW, it was nice to meet you the other day. All the best.

mommanator said...

you are a man of many generations! althoguh a babe to me! you have a wealth of knowledge and spirit of generosity&humor that crosses age bounds!

LifestoryDVD said...

Great review!--I wonder whether you would be prepared to cross post this on our site
at www.babyboomreview.com
or post any other relevant review
You write very well about our generation!

Evil Chicken said...

Bob – it was really nice meeting you as well. The whole generational thing is probably all just smoke and mirrors. I believe that you are on to something about cross-generational families. I guarantee the kids in those families grew up doing the same things that their siblings were doing at the time. I suppose at the end of the day we are much more alike than we are different.

Momanator – Momma, you are too kind. Right back at ya! I happen to know for a fact that you are one timeless lady. Bottom line.

LifestoryDVD – Hey, you never know… if Gregor Mendel can cross-pollinate pea plants who knows what can be done within the blogosphere?

RDOwens said...

William Safire wrote an On Language piece about these generations last week. It may be of interest . . .