Listen To Those Baby Boomers
The Baby Boomer generation was a wave in the birthrate during the years 1946 to 1964, this cycle was often referred to as the “population explosion”. Trying to generalize baby boomers habits and interests as an age group is inaccurate. Agreed, this cluster of newborns referred to as baby boomers, has influenced majorly in product trends while growing up and their purchasing power as adults continues to revolutionize the ways of marketing products and consumer services as we age.
Our Generation- Being a baby boomer, I have a different opinion about many subjects in life as compared to today’s younger generations and would like to share some comments on topics like- the workplace, family life, vacations, lifestyles, spending habits and getting older. It is interesting when we were younger we believed we are much different than our parents and as we age we see more of our parents beliefs in our own personalities. As individuals we have different opinions on subjects like - children, parenting, grandparents, education, schools, politics, work ethnics, spending habits, savings, music, personal appearance, clothing styles and economics. One thing boomers have in common is that the world seemed much different when we were kids and maybe it wasn’t as complicated as it is now. Our generation as children, just as any generation, enjoyed childhood and compare what is happening today to that of the past.
Legacy- The Boomer generation had a time span of about 18 years. Think about it, eighteen years age difference from the first and last child born in this era. There are so many opinions, articles and legacies about baby boomers it is overwhelming. I was born in 1954, the middle of the age group of boomers, which is when most of the average trends were based on. Generations don’t simply end and another starts, all age groups blend into one another. To believe the baby boomers were so different than any other generation is inaccurate. Our generation wasn’t as unique as many want to claim to take credit for. We basically just happen to be born and grow up during the post war era in countries where industry, manufacturing and the economies were rapidly growing and change was inevitable. There were limitless opportunities for all of us and most every American was a winner due to this widespread economic growth.
Like children, the youth culture of boomers demanded to have a voice and many have kept this trait throughout their life. This generation wanting to change society, grew up protesting against traditional political policies, congress, presidents, religions, sexuality and whatever it took to get their attention. Many of the protesting events during the 1960s divided the American’s and the baby boomers themselves. Speaking for myself, I was happy with my childhood and appreciated what was given to me. As a teenager, I couldn’t understand my friends’ reasons for trying to undermine the establishment and go against what our parents strived for. For a lot of teenagers in the 70’s it was easier to follow the crowd then to adapt to the society that our parents built.
Today’s kids are not much different as they will follow new outrageous trends and claim to be originals. Sooner or later they will learn, as we did, they will have to find their place in society and be a productive part of it to earn the right to make change. A majority of the teenagers in the 60s felt they had to protest against war, race discrimination and fight for sexual freedom. Usually called “flower children” or “hippies”, they wanted to be part of the new peace movement to spread love, sexual freedom and start gay liberation. There is no doubt the boomers did force society to face these issues and accept the diversification in lifestyles. Most of these young people would eventually settle down and become the future core of the adult population which they are today.
A lot of good things developed from the protesting boomers, like pursuing equal opportunities for women, gay liberation and equality among all races. The boomers succeeded as their children today are raised in a non discriminating united world and are globally interactive with one another.
Our music trends have surpassed any past generations for popularity and appeal to younger generations. Many teenagers today like and listen to the same hard rock we listened to in the 60s and 70s. I think the boomers have learned that change and public appeal go together and have learned to market the audience no matter what age.
Using my family as an example here are some facts to better understand the range in ages of this generation. I have 3 brothers- one 5 years older than me, another 6 years younger and another 8 years younger. The year span of our birthdates is from 1949 to 1962, we are all considered boomers. To generalize and think that my oldest brother and youngest brother had anything in common during their childhoods is way off. Yes we were all raised in the same household by the same parents but there were a lot of changes in the household during those years.
My parents- my father had 14 brothers and sisters of which he was the oldest, his youngest brother born in 1945 was like a son to my father. My mother had 15 brothers and sisters with a similar span of years between them. My point is, I have aunts, uncles, cousins and brothers that are in the baby boomer generation. While my uncle was serving in the Vietnam War in 1964, my youngest brother was an infant, could we possibly think they had anything in common with their childhood memories of growing up or have similar interests in music or events.
Retiring- there are tons of articles published about how boomers are planning their retirement. This generation, again wanting to be different, claimed in their forties they would not work to age 65 as our parents and wanted retirement at 55-60. Early retirement has definitely become a dream gone bad for most of us and we have faced the fact that we will be working past the age of 65 and most likely till the age of 70 or above. A small percentage of boomers have a solid retirement plan that will fund their lifestyle till they pass on. As the cost of living continues to go up along with healthcare costs and their insurance benefits continue to decline.
Retire at 65? Nice thought but is it really possible. We try to convince ourselves that we are valuable in the workforce, but do our younger employers feel the same way about our age group. How many businesses will actually fill their employment needs with 70 to 80 year olds? I agree having a few experienced senior employees on staff is good for any business but let’s be real, there won’t be enough jobs in America to employ all the baby boomers because they have to work until they are 80 years old. Of course that is if you are healthy and are physically able to show up at the workplace every day.
As aging adults, maybe we now have a better understanding of our parents’ generation and realize why they talked about the good old days or the way it used to be. From our memories of the 1950s and 1960s it seems people in general had more respect for each other and were friendlier than today. Trust was built on a face to face verbal commitment, honesty, friendship or a handshake. Live conversations having eye to eye contact translated to trusting relationships both personal and in business. Our dreams were endless and heroes were plenty. Role models had to be respectful to gain popularity and there seemed to be clear boundaries of right from wrong. Was it really that way or do you think we just got older.
The Boomer Attitude
With the boomer generation came a dream of our parents that their children would have a better life than they did- no wars, better education, healthcare, opportunities, employment, food, clothing and shelter. They provided well for us and maybe we couldn’t appreciate it, just as our children can’t appreciate it today because we knew no different. Little did our parents know that we would grow up to be a generation that would challenge every facet of the American establishment, protest, boycott and demand answers. We were not going to be the political or religious followers like our parents were.
As America’s youths in the 1960’s we were burdened with the Vietnam War and a mandatory military draft was in effect. We were reluctant to fight in a war against innocent countries like Vietnam, which was much smaller than the United States. As many of our older brothers and friends were already drafted by the mid 1960’s, they wrote letters and came home to tell us the real stories of the war and the killing of innocent families and children. The war was senseless to our generation and we would rally and protest where ever possible to resist our involvement and purpose of this war.
American teenagers were being sent to a foreign country to kill an unknown enemy. The war scene was visually and mentally dramatic to our young soldiers would cause other problems in our society when they returned home. Soldiers’ lives seemed doomed as they saw their brothers murdered and tortured daily, causing them to lose hope of ever returning home alive. Many soldiers, feeling like misfits, turned to drugs as they could not face the reality of their mission.
As more American policies and political scandals were exposed throughout the 60s & 70s our boomer generation lost respect for all politicians and didn’t trust the older generation of our parents. The baby boomers would be the new audience that political candidates would have to answer to. Our generation demanded to be heard and if political figures didn’t listen they would be voted out of office. We changed the national voting age to 18 years old and realized the power our votes had in numbers as we were the largest generation of all history and could change the world. The boomers now had momentum and voting power by the mid seventies.
Our parents’ generation was still living the glory of a WWII with Japan and the Korean War. Raising families thru the fifties our parents knew the reality of wartime and valued the peace that followed. They were rebuilding America with one of the strongest economies of all time. Industries were booming and money was flowing as the American dream was reachable for almost every citizen. In our history classes at school we were taught about how the war started with the attack on Pearl Harbor and how it ended with the devastation of Hiroshima.
Silently emerging in the late 50s was the introduction of cheap electronic parts and products made in Japan. Boomers challenged American made products and started the trend of buying Japanese made products during the 1960s. Consumer attitudes changed rapidly as most of us as teenagers would get a transistor radio made in Japan showing us a new way to enjoy music anywhere. This was a disgrace to American veterans who fought and lost their lives in WWII and Korean War. After the war we rebuilt Japan and many deals were made with American businesses. I know my father couldn’t understand as his American pride was slowly being washed away with every Japanese product that entered the United States.