August 13, 2011

Not a Boomer, not a Gen-Xer

Maybe you feel the same way about yourself as I do about me. I've blogged about this briefly before, and others have talked about this elsewhere, including academics, but various things have me going into more depth now,. They're largely related to the current situation of the American economy, partially related to what I see to some degree as current takes on that situation by different age groups (while trying not to stereotype).

The U.S. Census officially runs the Baby Boomer generation through 1964, so, according to it, I'm in. But, others cut it off at 1960. I agree; I don't feel like a Boomer.

At the same time, especially given that the stereotypical Gen-Xer is the Reagan-worshiping Michael J. Fox of Family Ties, and some societal and technological changes related to that, I don't feel like an Xer, either.

I propose "Transitionals" for those of us born between 1960-69.

Why those years?

On the "negative definitions" side, even the oldest of us are too young to remember anything about Jack Kennedy, or really, even LBJ. The Great Society was in place, as was the rise of a new conservativism, the hippie movement, and the gut-wrenching, society-wrenching backdrop of Vietnam.

But, even the youngest of us in this category were at least entering junior high school by the time Reagan became president. In other words, we spent most to all of his administration in the psychological stage of having entered abstract thinking abilities. We didn't have to see his political claims from a "concrete thought" point of view.

On the "positive definition" side, if not positive in a "good sense," we started growing up during gut-wrenching change beyond that of Vietnam: Nixon's resignation, two oil shocks, the Iranian hostage crisis, and the Carter-Reagan recession, the worst post-WWII shock to America's economy until now. In other words, although we didn't have to worry about fighting in southeast Asia, in other ways, we faced even more crisis, including the "crisis" that America wasn't so omnipotent and that our control of even our domestic economy wasn't so total as we had thought.

There's a "post-Millennial" generation coming down now that faces similar economic shock, coupled with technological change happening at a rapid rate. Will technology be either a bread and circuses, or a hypnotism, that in either way diverts post-Millennials from feeling the crisis? Or will it instead be a catalyst for exacerbating such feeling?

Meanwhile, as a result of the crisis of the 1970s, we've seen the deliberalization of the Democratic party, except for certain degrees of playing to entrenched special interests, deregulation often becoming a fetish, Democrats tacking to the South and more.

That's another reason I don't feel like a Boomer. True Boomers were either in the workforce, or wrapping up college or grad school by the time Reagan came along. Some of them took some this from that recession, but many didn't. That's because in many ways, the "safety net" was stronger then. More than the safety net was stronger, though -- the "development net" was stronger. Things like job retraining, Pell Grants rather than loans for college, government loans rather than private ones, when needed, government-guaranteed, controlled-interest private ones rather than free-floating ones, let alone credit cards, as the bottom line.

There's less margin for error today, whether going to college or going back to college.

I'm a worrier, by genetics in part, I think by womb environment in part, definitely by early childhood issues, possibly to some degree from other things. But, I don't think my observations are out of line.

I worry, and so I scrimp and hoard. I'm a family of one; no kids depending on me, but no spouse/partner to backstop me, either.

I'm a Transitional, with a certain degree of existential loneliness and angst.

But, I suspect I'm not alone.

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