Those of us born between the years in the headline are different than the Woodstock 60s generation and the Woke 90s generation. Though we have some things in common with 80s teenagers. I’ve written about this before, characterizing us as The Animal House generation, not the Hippy generation.
We voted for Reagan. The hippies gave aid and comfort to the North Vietnamese. We dressed well, at least in the 80s. Let’s try to forget the 70s in that regard. They dressed like scruffy winos and their gray ponytails still are a fashion bane. We were happy go lucky in our youth. They were sanctimonious brats who called themselves idealistic when it actuality they were absurdly selfish. We helped bring down an Evil Empire. They paraded with NVA flags.
I, and many of you, knew this. But a recent article in Medium by Nichola Scurry brings it into greater focus. Welcome to Generation Jones.
“I’m Generation X and Generation Jones was the cool older sibling I looked up to and relied on for music suggestions. I had way more in common with Generation Jones than I did with my traditional Baby Boomer parents who listened to British Invasion music before growing their hair long,” says Scurry.
“The term Generation Jones was coined by social commentator, Jonathan Pontell. The 1970s slang ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, or jonesin’ for short, embodied craving or yearning.
The yuppie members of Generation Jones craved big jobs, big money and big shoulder pads, while another cohort of Generation Jones jonesed for something harder. Maybe it’s just my experience in an Australian city, but whenever I meet someone recovering from heroin addiction, they seem to be a member of Generation Jones.
“Most of the musicians who pioneered the punk and new wave sounds of the late 70s and early 80s are Generation Jones. As are the 1980s MTV popstars. And from the movies, most of the Brat Pack, pin-up idols of my generation, Gen X, are members of Generation Jones.
“Coming from such high birth rate years, it’s impossible to list all the Generation Jones celebrities. But just think about anyone famous now aged 58–67. And in a 2018 study, it was found that the average age of CEOs from the top 1000 American companies was 58 — Generation Jones members born around 1960.
“From a prosperous 1960s childhood, Generation Jones lived their early years with optimism and high expectations. But their grand plans took a sobering turn once their 1970s adolescence hit. This was a period of high unemployment and de-industrialisation. Just as they were becoming aware of the world, Generation Jones were met with the likes of Watergate, stagflation, oil embargos and the rise of terrorism.
“With high expectations left unfulfilled, is it any wonder Generation Jones became punks and then yuppies once the economy improved in the 80s? This mixed experience of the 60s and 70s at such key developmental stages in Generation Jones’ lives, meant that they turned out pretty pragmatic.”
Scurry hits the target dead center. I quibble on one point. I’d say the age limit is 64, not 67. If you were a teenager in the 60s it makes you more likely to have indulged in the decade’s putrid ethos. A teenager starting in 1971, thus born in 1958 and now 64, would have likely dodged that.
What really makes us different? We of Generation Jones didn’t settle for the whining bitterness and masochistic tendencies of Woodstock types. We learned from the 70s that a lot of authority had no legitimacy. We learned from the 80s that optimism and hard work paid off. We put Gingrich in office in 1994 and we dealt Barack Obama, demographically one of our own, a massive defeat in 2010.
As we cruise into our 60s our optimism, tempered by the cynicism of life experience, is still there. But we’re no fools either. We know the rules of the game and we know how to compete and win. Hopefully, as new generations come to take the helm of leadership, they can reflect back on us and learn the battle cry that rings down through the ages, “Wait til Otis sees us. He loves us!”