THE BABY BOOMER MINDSET LIST
Baby Boomers: the cohort of babies born between the mid-1940s and early 1960s in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Members of various generations have been asking us to prepare “generational Mindset Lists.” This one is the first. Look in the future for Mindset Lists on both the Silent Generation (born in the 30s and early 40s) and Generation X (born in the 60s and 70s). If you like this one, forward the link to your children, grandchildren, friends—and fellow geezers!
1. Fellow Boomers Patrick Swayze, Mary Travers, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, and Ted Bundy are dead.
2. But fellow Boomers Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, George W. Bush, Glenn Close, and Sissy Spacek still live.
3. Boomers have no memory of Franklin Roosevelt. Gen Xers have no memory of John F. Kennedy. Millennials have no memory of Ronald Reagan.
4. The love beads of Boomer rebellion have given way to beads of sweat as they open their annuity statements.
5. As bacteria have gotten smarter, the wonder drugs of Boomer youth have become less and less effective.
6. Long associated with the rejection of traditional values, most Boomers voted for Donald Trump, himself a Boomer along with his opponent Secretary Clinton.
7. Boomers have not only had mid-life crises. They invented them.
8. When early Boomers were born, the United States alone accounted for about one third of the world’s total production and wealth.
9. You will occasionally run across an old Boomer, with a salt-and-pepper ponytail, bemoaning the lack of a single payer healthcare system.
10. For Boomers the Kennedy tragedy will always have occurred in Dallas or Los Angeles—while for Millennials and late Gen Xers it happened off the coast of Cape Cod.
11. For all their great numbers, Boomers are now the second largest generational cohort still living in the United States—death has a way of doing that sort of thing.
12. The Great Boomer Paradox was “destroying the city in order to save it,” as distinct from the Great Millennial Paradox (“too big to fail”).
13. Boomers were the first generation to be explicitly “marketed to,” on the not unreasonable assumption that “babies mean business.”
14. Having been cut loose by their own parents, preoccupied with celebrating their victory in World War II, Boomers have often reacted by becoming Velcro Parents.
15. In their youth Boomers could escape the draft by faking infirmities; now they do so by turning up the thermostat.
16. Early Boomers tend to be Democrats; later Boomers, Republicans.
17. Their coming of age seems impossible to imagine without the twin technologies of the Pill and transistor radios.
18. The first TV generation, their parents worried about its effects on their ability to concentrate and on their eyesight if they watched the tube totally in the dark.
19. Clarabelle the Clown, who squirted everyone on the Howdy Doody show, was the nation’s first chaotic hippie—a harbinger of destructive things to come during the protests against the war in Vietnam.
20. Clarabelle soon morphed into Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan played them both), thus proving to young Boomers that watery war could give way to soft-spoken peace, complete with Mr. Greenjeans’ lambs.
21. Among the iconic TV programs for Boomers was the Ed Sullivan variety show—it was said that if the Resurrection had occurred in 1956, Ed would give it four minutes on Sunday night.
22. Island dweller Thurston Howell III was an expression of Establishment haughtiness and hypocrisy.
23. For millions of Boomers, every second of continuous life has been a blessing after the near miss of Cuban Missile Crisis.
24. For many Millennials, Boomers are a selfish generation, living far too long and bankrupting Medicare and Social Security.
25. Still reeling from the Great Recession, in 2011 twenty-five percent of Boomers told the Associated Press they would never retire.
26. Boomers got free love; Gen X got AIDS and Herpes Type 2.
27. Boomers were Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” in 1967.
28. Baby Boomer has been a video game character, leaving his crib and heading out into the dangerous wilderness, since 1989.
29. Three of four prescriptions drugs are purchased by Boomers—and every single one is legal.
30. Grass, once delightful to inhale when lit, is now something Boomers move to retirement homes in order to avoid having to cut.
31. They stopped saying, in about 1975, “never trust anyone under 30.”
32. They will never forget either man’s first walk on the moon or Tiny Tim’s marriage to Miss Vicky—both major TV events.
33. They got John Lennon; Gen X got John Travolta.
34. By the mid-21st century there will still be about 16 million Boomers still kicking, however weakly.
35. The “boom” in American births (over 4 million a year from 1946 to 1964) would have never happened without victory over Fascism and the Depression and the optimism ensuing therefrom.
36. By 1960 they and their parents had moved to the suburbs (“Fertility Valley”) in such numbers as to constitute one third of the U.S. population.
37. Their mothers were urged to embrace their roles as wives and mothers—advice many of the daughters reconsidered.
38. The earnest Beaver won the cultural battle, but with the disillusionments of Vietnam and Watergate, cynical Eddie Haskell won the war.
39. Boomer males have the distinction of not needing barbers either in their 20s or in their 70s.
40. Among the few Boomer artists to have been meaningful for Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials alike is…Meryl Streep.
41. As kids they wore Mouse’s ears and coonskin hats even as their fathers were starting to go hatless.
42. Nearly half of all Boomers will retire on Social Security alone.
43. They are both the “now” generation and the NOW generation.
44. To their astonishment, Fidel Castro somehow outlived Dick Clark.
45. In their lifetimes space travel has gone from being incredibly thrilling to incredibly routine to incredibly non-existent.
46. They are the first generation for which rolling stones have had nothing whatever to do with moss.
47. Among their other achievements, they created booms in sales of porta-cabin classrooms, Army surplus clothing, cohabitation, and station wagons.
48. Once they hit their 30s and early 40s they sold out, became yuppies, consumed a lot, and saved little.
49. Dow Chemical, once something to march against, is now something to invest in.
50. They just might find a discarded Pocahontas headband in the attic.