I was born in 1962. That makes me, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, a Baby Boomer; a member of that generation born after World War II and before 1964. But I don’t feel comfortable with that identification. Not because it’s fashionable to vilify Boomers (actually, it’s always been somewhat fashionable to vilify every generation but one’s own), but because of my tastes and cultural referents.
The way I see it, “my” generation is anyone who was in high school when Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Wizards, Eraserhead, and Dark Star were released, along with the animated Lord of the Rings movie; when Dungeons and Dragons (and Dave Hargraves’ Arduin supplements!) first took the adolescent nerd world by storm; when DEVO, The Clash, Talking Heads, the B-52s and other punk/New Wave bands were rockin’ the radiowaves; when The Rocky Horror Picture Show was the place for genial weirdos to gather on weekend nights. I cast my first vote in the 1980 presidential election, having grown up when Watergate was eroding young people’s faith in government.
To my knowledge, none of the above are usually counted as part of Boomer culture. My mom and dad were in the same fix — born in 1939 and 1936 respectively, they missed out on being part of the Greatest Generation by about 10 years. Maybe that’s why I’m an in-betweener; it’s in my genes.
Admittedly, these divisions are somewhat specious, and largely due to Homo sapiens’ discriminating brain and tendency to make the conceptual world conform to artificial notions of “us” and “them.” But the referents are real enough; we tend to cluster around them like our ancestors did around the cooking fire. After all, we are little more than the stories we tell ourselves. And if some of those stories only make sense to a sub-clan of the larger tribe, where’s the harm in that?