Although they are certainly not a homogeneous group – baby boomers characteristics, values and motivations tend to be very different from other generations. This rock and roll generation has been a major force for social change in the United States. Their epic numbers and independent spirits have influenced everything from politics to pop culture, transformed the makeup of the American family and workforce, reshaped societal norms, and created our modern notion of consumerism. If one word were to be attributed to the boomer cohort, it would be “rebellion.” Through various social movements, tech movements, and health and fitness movements, boomers have redefined societal norms in countless ways.
Social Movements: As teenagers, boomers fought for their own individual freedoms, such as gender equality and civil rights, not to mention their experimentation with drugs and the sexual revolution they stirred. These experiences have taught them to be cynical of authority, that fun and personal pleasure are important, and that youth should be respected.
Tech Movements: Over the course of their lifetimes, boomers have seen and played a role in many vast technological changes. They saw a man walk on the moon and lived through the transition of every American household buying their own television. These experiences showed them that the progress of technology can vastly improve lives. It has also instilled in them the value of adaptability and the belief that humans can do anything.
Health and Fitness Movements: Boomers witnessed the massive shift in attitudes toward health. They lived through the commercialization of fitness and the popularization of healthy eating. These experiences helped them recognize the importance of keeping themselves healthy–physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Boomers understand that good health isn’t a result of luck but, instead, dedication and hard work.
Media Outlets: Baby boomers were the first generation for which television became a central part of their lives. They were able to witness news as it happened and enjoy diverse entertainment never before available in such a medium. However, baby boomers were also the first to be pervasively bombarded by advertising, which quickly capitalized upon the rapt television audience. Everything from what you should wear to how you should smell and what should be on your dinner table was pounded into receptive and somewhat defenseless heads.
Heavy Debt: Being a baby boomer has not always meant wealth or financial security. The credit card economy took root among a generation that preferred to have things now rather than save and wait until they could afford them. The parents of baby boomers tended to save up for purchases, while boomers used credit cards with abandon. Although boomers enjoy the highest income of any age group, they believe it is harder to get ahead than it was ten years ago.
Working Longer and Harder: Job competition is fierce among this group, partly due to the sheer number of members but also because of multiple economic upheavals, including changes in the nature of work due to increased automation and the movement of some jobs offshore. It is more and more difficult for those over 50 to find employment. Once they lose or leave a job, it generally takes older workers much longer to become re-employed. Despite their great strides in the workplace, many boomers rate their overall professional quality of life as lower than other generations.
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