My Generation

In 1965, a UK band called The Who released an anthem to Britain’s youth. The song was called My Generation, and it was adopted by the children born in the aftermath of World War II, kids just turning twenty.

The lyrics were succint—and I’m being generous—but two lines endure. In one, Daltrey stutters: ‘Why don’t you all just f-f-fade away’. Everyone knew the real line was fuck off, but that kind of language would never earn the band radio play—in a bizarre twist, the BBC initially banned the song because it was offensive to stutterers.

Undoubtedly, the most enduring line is ‘Hope I die before I get old’, which became a mantra in the rock world—the generation that shouted it at concerts was christened the baby boomers, and many have in fact faded away, including The Who’s legendary and unquestionably deranged drummer.

Keith Moon, often called Looney Mooney, was an early casualty of the 1960’s rock scene, along with Brian Jones, Hendrix, Joplin, Jim Morrison, and many others.

Humans love to classify, and to that end the Pew Research Center provides a definition of the various generational groups. Here they are, in reverse chronological order.

Generation Birth date range Age of adults in 2015
Millennials 1981-1997 18-34
Generation X 1965-1980 35-50
Baby Boomers 1946-1964 51-69
Silents 1928-1945 70-87
Greatest Before 1928 88-100

I can readily understand the post-war baby boom name, but a couple of others seem a stretch. Silents is bizarre, and while Greatest is undoubtedly true in terms of age, I suspect a spot of political correctness is at work here.

Marketing people love this kind of typecasting, and therefore persuade people to self-brand. I’ve always hated it, because I connect through similarity or complementarity, not imposition.

US-born individuals for each generation. The post-millenials are booming, and many of them will speak Spanish.

Seventy-six million baby boomers were born in the USA, still an all-time record for roughly equivalent periods of sixteen to eighteen years. Nevertheless, in 2015 the number of millennials overtook the baby boomers, who have a nasty tendency to keep dying.

The crossover point was seventy-five million, and the millennials are expected to reach eighty-one million by 2036. I was perplexed to see the number increasing, but of course there’s a one-word answer: immigration.

Millenials were predicted to outspend boomers by this year, but a quick web trawl suggests we’re not there yet. The flip is important, because millennials approach purchasing in a different way—they drive a market for local produce, organic foods, and standards in areas such as animal welfare, none of which were ever a major consideration for their parents.

Boomers don’t hold a candle to the coming generation, which is turned on to an entirely different vibe.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, Clear Eyes, and Folk Tales For Future Dreamers. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

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