Are you a member of Generation W?

Technically speaking, I’m a Baby Boomer.

We’re not a select group. There are millions—or even billions?—of us.

One reason there’s so many of us is that the category spans 18 full years, from the beginning of 1946 right through to the end of 1964, and ranges from people who were doing the twist the day Kennedy was shot to people not yet in utero. (Literally a gleam in their fathers’ eyes, as the saying goes.)

In fact, contemporary marketing studies often divide the group into older boomers and younger ones for more effective data analysis.

However, even this does not handle the complexity of the group. Everyone is up to something different. There are people with new babies (generally men at this point but not necessarily) and people with great grandchildren. People long retired and those going back to school to start their third career. Army generals and aging hippies. People getting tattoos and people getting hearing aids and people getting both at the same time.

Frankly, this isn’t a group with which I strongly identify. I am neither a baby nor am I booming. Nor do I have much in common with my cohort as a group in terms of psychographics, stage of life or anything else.

We are simply that “pig” in the demographic “python” that huddled around a large TV “set” to watch the very first Mouseketeers. The photo that should be inserted here shows an entire theater of moviegoers wearing cardboard 3D glasses. (Use your imagination here as I am doing. I never saw this in person. However, I did have a hula-hoop.)

Now back to my big demographic thought, which is: We should rename the Baby Boomer generation as Generation W.

What does the “W” stand for?

The “W” stands for absolutely nothing. Just as I feel absolutely no identification with my alleged generation. Just as there is nothing that unites us except date of birth, and even that is a stretch of the calendar.

W is simply the letter that precedes X, and Generation W is the generation that precedes Generation X (born 1965 through 1983).

It certainly does not stand for Dubya, President #43. Anyway, George W. Bush was not the first Generation W President of the U.S., given that Bill Clinton, #42, was also born in 1946.

To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, that which we call a Baby Boomer would smell no less like stale talcum powder if we called it something else.

* For the demographers among us, here’s how the recent generations divide up:

•    Generation W, born 1946-1964
•    Generation X (Busters), born 1965-1983
•    Generation Y (Millennials), born 1984-2002
•    Generation Z (Digital Generation), born 2003-



6 responses to “Are you a member of Generation W?

  1. I think the W stands for “WHY”. As in: “why do they lump us all together,” & “why put labels on people anyway?”

  2. I thought of the WHY also – but in relation to the fact that we question reality. We ask
    Why are things this way?
    Why should I keep doing it the old way?
    Why should I follow the rules?
    Why can’t I find a completely new approach?
    Why do I accept other people’s paradigms and limits as my own, isn’t it time for me to create my own reality.
    Why aren’t people following their passion and joy?
    Why why why…sounds like a song of some kind.

  3. After Z – where do we go? back to A? Or can we start using symbols? Numbers? Ideas?
    just kidding. Sometimes, the mind just says why.Carolyn

  4. Carolyn,

    I also pondered (for a moment) what comes after Generation Z. Frankly, no ideas yet.

    Here we are in 2009 and we still don’t know what to call this decade. Previous decades were called “the seventies,” “the eighties” and “the nineties.” But is this decade called “the zeroes”?

    I guess life goes on even in the absence of labels.


  5. -D
    I am still laughing over the zeros. Just so they don’t decide to label this decade as the big depression or something…but if we do have to do a label, as it seems we must (some people seem to get very uncomfortable when their labels aren’t in place) can’t we come up with something that sounds positive and uplifting? In our family it’s the Now generation…but that’s a joke since the last name is Nau!

  6. Well, Carolyn, the Nau generation sounds much more positive than the Schneidman generation!


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