Generations have been in the forefront of my mind for a little while. A few weeks ago, my colleague Starbuck and I facilitated a workshop for faculty entitled "NetGen Reloaded," concerning the values, attitudes, and behavior patterns our Generation Y / Net Generation students bring into the classroom. A few days ago, I was out at our college-town alehouse with some colleagues (including Starbuck), and the conversation turned to how some of us teachers from an older generation differed in out formative experiences from our younger co-workers, many if not most of whom are Generation X. Heck, even my own Otis is a Gen-Xer, and we have had to bridge a few gaps between us.
Yet even with generational issues staring me in the face, I have always felt a bit confused about my own generation. I am clearly too old to be from Generation X, but I have never felt connected to Baby Boomers, that great, influential generation that came before. I was not a child of the sixties in the traditional sense; I was too young for the summer of love. But I'm not a slacker, either.
Well, you can just call me a charter member of Generation Jones.
I had heard about this construct before, but had somehow forgotten it. The coinage of pop culture historian Jonathan Pontell, Generation Jones refers to those of us born between 1954 and 1965. Most studies would parse these folks as just young Boomers, but Pontell saw a distinction. As one writer put it: "They grew up watching The Brady Bunch, not Leave It to Beaver. Their attitudes were shaped more by Watergate than JFK. They remember gas lines, not Mustangs."
That's me. Not a Boomer. A Jonesie. Less idealistic than Boomers, less cynical than Xers, formed by the wonders of moon landings, the malaise of hyper-inflation, and the disaster of the Iran hostage crisis, Jonesers can remember a world before computers and Walkmans and even color TV, but missed out on Camelot and Davy Crockett and Joe DiMaggio (except when he was selling coffee makers). I have always thought it emblematic of my generation that Do The Hustle hit number one the charts in New York on the night of my senior prom. Generation Jones.
And you know who's one of us? That one. The White House has gone from sixteen years of Boomer occupancy to Joneser in the Oval Office. Change, indeed.