Are you a Baby Boomer who doesn’t feel like a Boomer? You’re likely part of a generational niche referred to as Generation Jones.
Generation Jones is a term that Jonathon Pontell first used to discuss people in the U.S. and the UK born between the years 1954 and 1965. Sociologists have since weighed in on how the Baby Boomer classification is probably inaccurate for a large group of people born between 1946 to 1964. Since a generation typically lasts from 10 to 12 years, it explains a lot about why so many of the younger boomers don’t relate well with the older boomers, feeling alienated by the idealism of their older brothers and sisters.
The cultural influences and shared historical events for older boomers are quite different from those of Generation Jones. Since psychologists and sociologists agree that these cultural links form the foundation of any generation’s values and mindset, it is no surprise that younger boomers often act and feel differently from their older counterparts based on historical events and cultural changes present during their formative years.
The idea of keeping up with the Joneses as the driving force behind this generation’s unquenchable consumerism explains a common mindset consistent with the 1980s and 1990s when the youngest boomers reached adulthood. The movie, Wall Street, exemplifies the mood at the time when everything in excess was the mantra for young business leaders. A favorite quote from those times was, “He who has the most toys wins.”
Keeping up with the Joneses is an expression describing the comparison of one’s lifestyle or accomplishments to those of one’s neighbor or peers. It is often used to refer to the struggle to maintain the same materialistic level as those around them. It can also refer to trying to outdo someone else, no matter the cost.
In other words, keeping up with the Joneses means comparing yourself to those around you, either by trying to have a lifestyle that rivals theirs, or trying to have more material possessions or status than others do.
Understanding Baby Boomers and Generation Jones Influences
The main thing that Baby Boomers and Generation Jones have in common is that both groups grew up during a prosperous period in U.S. history. Baby Boomers were born right after World World II when optimism and a growing middle class made it possible for families to take regular vacations, buy homes and send their children to college.
A majority of baby boomers remember their childhoods as a time of economic stability that fed into the American Dream. Boomers and Jonesers were taught that simply working hard and getting a good education ensured success.
Unfortunately, all good things do eventually come to an end. As Generation Jones finished school and entered the workplace, they were faced with a poor economy and the Watergate scandal. This rude awakening to adulthood contributed to Generation Jones becoming cynical and pessimistic. For the first time in their life, this generation was faced with fewer job prospects and high-interest rates that made purchasing a home more difficult than it was for the older Baby Boomers.
Comparatively, older boomers came of age during an environment of raw idealism defined by hippies, flower power, and a rejection of corporate greed and war. The sexual revolution was in high gear with the promise of free love.
Unfortunately, Generation Jones was met with the threat of AIDS as they gingerly navigated a new world order surrounding love connections. Caution and danger became more the norm. The threat of STDs and AIDs cooled down the sexual revolution’s momentum.
The Idealism of Baby Boomers Versus the More Practical Generation Jones
Whether it’s political parties trying to capture votes or companies interested in driving sales, there is an abundance of evidence that reveals differences between baby boomers and their younger Generation Jones contemporaries. Even though boomers and Jonesers shared an optimistic childhood inspired by ideas about positive social change and equal rights, each group differs significantly on the best path to take.
Generation Jones approaches change with cautious optimism based on their entrance into early adulthood punctuated by high inflation and unemployment rates. Essentially, Jonesers are considered to be more conservative than Boomers, collectively. That’s not so surprising given that Baby Boomers and Jonesers encountered a markedly different world when it was time to get their first job. That’s why it is understandable why older boomers who were established in life before the 80s in many cases, were able to hold onto their idealism a bit easier than Generation Jones.
Boomers, Generation Jones and Technology
While it is common for younger generations to make fun of baby boomers and Jonesers about their inability to cope with new technology, perspective is required to truly understand how these two generations historically fit into the picture. Since Jonesers are old enough to reminisce about the simpler times before the Internet was a daily part of life, this group can unplug on occasion as a way to recapture their youth.
Older boomers may be more inclined to step away from the computer than Jonesers, but both groups long for simpler times on occasion. By no means should it be forgotten that Generation Jones and Baby Boomers must be credited for promoting and funding technological innovations that led to a computer in every office and cell phones in the hands of a majority of consumers.
Publisher United States Now credits Steve Jobs and Bill Gates as two Jonesers that led the world into a new world shaped by computers. While younger generations might not understand why their parents aren’t interested in an Instagram account or the latest TikTok video, it is important to remember where the technology started. Granted, each generation has different tastes and interests in technology, it is noteworthy that a third of Internet users today are from the Generation Jones generation.
5 Common Characteristics of Generation Jones
Generation Jones Has A Desire for Work-life Balance
Generation Jones values the ability to achieve a balance between professional and personal lives because they are keenly aware that this is essential for their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The constant pursuit of success and achievement can be draining, and taking time to relax and enjoy life can help them get through their day-to-day tasks. Additionally, having a balanced lifestyle allows them to enjoy all that life has to offer while still reaching their personal and professional goals.
Generation Jones is Highly Adaptable
This generation is known for being adaptable and able to adjust quickly to change, due to the uncertainty and instability of the world. This generation witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Vietnam War, the rise of technology, the fragmentation of the workplace, and the emergence of the gig economy. With so much change and instability, this generation has had to learn and adapt to shifting needs. They have embraced technology, organized work and social structures, and leveraged the gig economy to stay agile and fluid. Additionally, this generation has been exposed to different cultures and values, which enhances their adaptability and resilience in the face of changing conditions.
Generation Jones is Generally Tech Savvy
While not as comfortable with technology as younger generations, many members of Generation Jones are proficient in using modern technology. Generation Jones values keeping up with the latest trends, technology, and innovations. They understand the importance of being ahead of the curve and are always looking for ways to embrace new ideas, technologies, and strategies to stay relevant and competitive.
Generation Jones is Diverse
This generation is made up of people who were around to experience the cultural shifts of the Baby Boomer generation, as well as the shifts caused by the Vietnam War, Watergate, and the economic turmoil of the 1970s. These events, as well as the introduction of technology, had a significant effect on this generation. This diversity of life experiences creates a unique group of individuals with varying opinions, values, and outlooks on life.
Generation Jones is Independent
Generation Jones values independence and the ability to make their own decisions because they have experienced first-hand the consequences of relying too much on the influence of people in their community. They witnessed their parents making decisions based on what their peers were doing, leading to a lack of financial stability, which instilled a sense of self-reliance in them. They understand that if they want to achieve their goals, then they must make their own choices, regardless of what others may think. They are also more open to embracing new trends and exploring new ideas, allowing them to have an increased sense of confidence in their own decisions.
Generation Jones Icons
President Barack Obama, Mark Cuban, Madonna, Magic Johnson, Whitney Houston, Jon Stewart, Princess Diana, Tina Fey, and Bill Gates are just a few well-known icons to come out of Generation Jones.
Music, culture, and politics were all major influences on Generation Jones. Music of the 1970s was very free-form, with new genres like disco and punk rock emerging. This was also a time of great racial tension, as the civil rights movement was in full swing. Political issues were also front and center, with the Vietnam War being a major source of contention. As a result, Generation Jones is a very diverse group, with a wide range of experiences and perspectives. However, there are also some commonalities. Many members of Generation Jones remember feeling like they were on the cusp of great change. They witnessed firsthand the power of music, culture, and politics to shape society, and they continue to be active participants in the world around them.
As Baby Boomers retire in significant numbers, the mantle is often being passed to members of Generation Jones. This generation is distinguished by traditional ideas about family with an eye to equality for both men and women. The hope expressed by many U.S. citizens is that Jonesers who value civility, personal responsibility, and community can lead the country in a better direction where these values are honored.