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Generation Jones and Mixed Messages

Generation Jones Mixed Messages

Photo from Kaitlin M via Flickr with Creative Commons

by Cari Okie
Blog: Cari Okie – Empty Nest, Full Life

I’m part of Generation Jones, the tiny subset of Generation X that was born between 1954 and 1965. Sandwiched between the Boomers and Gen X proper, we have never felt at home with either side.

Sometimes I think my best characteristic is also my worst. I am able to see both sides of an argument, to empathize with all parties. I wish just once I felt so strongly about something that I was unable to see the other point of view.

Don’t get me wrong. I do believe that chocolate is the food of the gods, that my daughters are nearly perfect, that my husband can charm the masses with his chatter, that God is God and we are not. These truths I hold to be self evident. But in everything else – I can pretty much argue either way.

Eternally Straddling the Fault Line

I wonder if this is a common trait among Generation Jonesers. Caught at the convergence of the tectonic plates that were two cultures colliding, do we have a sense of eternally straddling the fault line? We weren’t old enough to fight in or protest the Viet Nam war. Nor could we understand the race riots we saw on the nightly news, or to get the full import of the assassination of Martin Luther King. Nevertheless, we certainly absorbed the vibe. We watched our grandparents, and sometimes our parents, shake their heads in horror and confusion over the countercultural hippie generation while we happily drew peace signs on our Big Chief tablets, snatched up cheap smiley-face jewelry at the local TG&Y, and chirped “groovy” and “psychedelic, man” on the playground.

As Gen Jonesers hover on either side of the half-century mark, are we seeing the telltale signs of our empathetic natures? Does “Beer Summit” ring a bell? President Obama, born in 1961, is well known for his ability to see many sides of an issue and his belief that two sides can be brought together with a little help from a friend. Supreme Court nominee and Joneser Elena Kagan, born in 1960, continues to defy efforts at labeling. The best anyone can do is to call her a moderate.

While watching the implosion of Joneser General Stanley McChrystal’s career, one has to wonder if the Generation Jones ability to see both sides also allows us to play both sides. Does this characteristic come back to bite us in our once bell-bottom clad butts? I could argue either way.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Elizabeth (Lizzie)

    Hi, I didn’t finish the quiz. Partly because it was hard to see the photos, but mostly because I couldn’t relate — fancy music festivals/concert events, lunch boxes, themed birthday parties… this quiz seems geared towards a more upper-middle-class group than I was in. I may go back and try again, but I’m concerned that my best guesses among similar photos (like the Christmas one, which, by the way, leaves out Jews and atheists, just for starters) will skew my results.

    • Elizabeth (Lizzie)

      PS I got my son to help me adjust the display, lol, and went back and retook the quiz, and got GJ … thanks, lol

      • Jennifer

        I’m glad you were able to take it. I’m sorry there were issues. It’s probably time I updated the quiz!

  2. Cari

    Hi John! Thanks for your observation. Actually, my comments regarding Obama, Kagan and McCrystal were in reference to how they are perceived or represented to the public rather than a commentary on my personal beliefs regarding their policies or qualifications.

    Whether I agree with or support these individuals is not the point of my article. The point is that perhaps Generation Jonesers are more difficult to pin a label on.

  3. Yogi♪♪♪

    I’d never thought about it that way. I’m a Jones (’55) and I can definitely see things both ways and argue passionately either side of an issue just for the fun of it. I see many things more in terms of interests and outlooks rather than right and wrong. I also hate it when everybody is sitting around agreeing with each other.

  4. Friar

    I’m not sure that we’re talking about a very strong cohort trait.

    While some “Jonesers” might seem to frequently see both sides of issues, many others do not. Ann Coulter (b. 1961), Sarah Palin (b. 1964), Keith Olbermann (b. 1959) Sean Hannity (b. 1961), Sean Penn (b. 1960) and Rosie O’Donnell (b. 1962), among others, seem very comfortable picking one side or the other of an issue and brooking little dissent.

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