Then along came (Generation) Jones


They say you learn something new every day -- guess that depends on what your definition of the world "something" is -- but I did learn something right after Michael Jackson died. In my blog eulogy, I wrote about what Jackson meant to those who grew up in the 1970s, calling people like Jackson, Barack Obama and us lesser mortals as "rear-guard Baby Boomers." After all, I'd always been told that the American Baby Boom lasted from 1946 through 1964, but as someone from the second half, I knew it wasn't quite right to lump so many people with different cultural and political touchstones in the same group. Someone born in 1946 (Bill Clinton, prominently) would have graduated high school a year before the escalation of Vietnam. while someone born in 1964 turned 18 during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. 

Apparently, sociologists decided the same thing a few years back, that people born from 1955 to 1965, give or take, were not Baby Boomer Classic, so they decided to call this lost sub-generation "Generation Jones." Huh? Named for who, for what? Davey Jones of the Monkees (who was very popular in my first-grade class!)?

According to Wikipedia (quotation marks included!):

"The name “Generation Jones” has several connotations, including a large anonymous generation, and a “Keeping up with the Joneses” competitiveness borne from this generation’s populous birth years. The connotation, however, which is perhaps best known stems from the slang word "jones" or “jonesing”, which means a yearning or craving. Jonesers were the people who as teens in the 1970s made this slang word popular[7], but beyond this historical claim, many believe the concept of jonesing is among this generation’s key collective personality traits."

I'm not exactly sure how every American born over a 10-year-period remains "anonymous" -- did they put us in the Generation Protection Program? -- but the other part about "jonesing," is sadly, all too real. I know it sounds strange because a lot of bad things happened during the 1960s (Like what? Well, name just one), but there was a sense among those of us who were in grade school during the tumult of the 1960s and then went to high school and college during the Jimmy Carter era that we had missed out on all the excitement. Well, I guess the joke's on all you other generations, because now our anonymous little Generation Jones is running much of the free world (and also not so free, in the case of this Generation Joneser). The irony is that if Barack Obama and the others can bring the world a little LESS excitement, they'll be doing a heck of a job.

(In case you're wondering why we were "Jonesing" for something else, I'm posting a picture of the very first car that I drove when I turned 16 in 1975, the AMC Gremlin.)