Talkin’ ’bout my generation

As I watched the remarkable Inauguration Day events on television, I realized that they represented a huge step forward for my “generation.”

You see, tail-end Baby Boomers — those of us born in the late 50s and early 60s — often have found ourselves sandwiched between the heart of the Boomer generation and Generation X.  Though technically Boomers, we did not experience the 1960s the same way; we missed being a part of that by just a few years.  Though schooled during the early dawn of the computer age, our formative years predated the Digital Revolution.  Again, we just missed.

To many, Obama vs. Clinton represented diversities of race vs. gender, but for me personally, the generational difference carried a ton of meaning as well.  To see someone in his late 40s — a person of the ‘Tweener Generation — assuming the mantle of national leadership is an encouraging sign that finally we’ve been able to leave the kids’ table and compel our older Boomer siblings to make some room for us, however grudgingly.

Does this mean we’ll see a proverbial “new generation of leadership” in the workplace as well?  The Baby Boomer generation on the whole has not been noted for its ability to share the torch (much less pass it), and this has definite implications for power, inclusion, and opportunity at work.

Against that reality, it’s hard to say whether Obama symbolizes the arrival the ‘Tweeners.  But it does suggest that we’re staking our claim.

4 responses

  1. Well-written piece. But we are not Tweeners–that’s a term which is almost always used to describe those kids between childhood and adolescence. There is no following at all nationally for that term to be used for the generation between Boomers and Xers. However, as many nationally influential voices have repeatedly noted, Obama is part of Generation Jones, born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Generation X. Google Generation Jones, and you’ll see it’s gotten a lot of media attention, and many top commentators from many top publications and networks (New York Times, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) are specifically referring to Obama, born in 1961, as part of Generation Jones.

    • Hi, thanks for that reply! You know something, I must be out of it, because I’d seen that phrase used only once or twice, for various reasons dismissed it, and had no idea it had caught on (just followed your advice and Googled it). I’ll quarrel and say that folks born in 1954 or 1955 are much more likely to see themselves as 60s kids (with the 60s “ending” around 1971 or 1972) than someone like me (1959), which is one reason why I’m not quite in sync with the scope of the term. But naming is a powerful thing, so I’m glad we’ll be seeing more attention given to this age group.

      The term Tweeners wasn’t an attempt to coin a phrase — it was simply shorthand I’ve used for years to describe my age group — drawn not from child development but from basketball! (E.g., a player taller than a typical guard but shorter than a typical forward is a…Tweener!) Which may prove your point: Use of such vocabulary, influenced by watching sports on TV, surely makes me a card-carrying, nay, Platinum card, member of Generation Jones.

  2. I agree, that the “tweener” term better suits the generation. I also think the dates better reflect our situation from say 1959 to 1964. The idea that someone from 1955 shares my experience is absurd. That group still enjoys the Boomer benefits that ours never experienced. All of the Boomer benefits and lifestyles are used up before we reach the age.

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