Best of RAH:
Attack Of The X Demographic
by Dave Bealer
This commentary first appeared in the January 1995 issue of Random
Copyright © 1995 Dave Bealer, All Rights Reserved.
Boomers Rule! Or at least we used to. As the largest generation in
American history, we Baby Boomers are used to being the center of
attention. Thousands of brand new schools were built for our
specific use in the 1950s and 1960s, not that we appreciated them all
that much at the time. We had bigger parties than anyone else (e.g.
Woodstock), more drugs, free love, and consequently less surviving
brain cells (on average) than any generation before or since.
Things change, however, even for the Boomers. We took our time about
it, but many of us eventually started raising families. Frequently we
skipped the "marry and settle down" prelude, not accustomed to being bound
by tradition. Still, a peaceful, clean Earth suddenly became less an
exercise in idealism we desired for ourselves, than something our
children needed to live long, safe, happy lives. Never mind that as soon
as they become teenagers, our kids go off tilting at their own windmills.
At least their windmills are made from recycled materials.
Boomers have, on the whole, ended up with more traditional jobs than
they expected. Geodesic dome installation and repair did not become
the growth industry that had been envisioned. Neither did commune
planning or wind farm operation (except in the District of Columbia,
where the hot air blowing out of Congress keeps the lights burning 24
A disturbing number of Boomers ended up with careers in real estate,
insurance, law enforcement, law evasion, and other traditional
trades/professions. Someone has to build and install our hot tubs,
decks, satellite dishes, big screen televisions with stereo speakers,
microwave digital toothbrushes, and other non-materialistic
Yep, the Boomers turned into consumers. Not just average consumers,
but the biggest, most gluttonous and short tempered gang of mall lizards
ever to descend on a rummage sale. The kind of spendthrift group that
makes the folks who do marketing demographics drool all over their charts
and graphs. Now, after years of incessant courting by the marketing majors
(and other vile detritus) of the world, we're being dumped like a load of
The problem is we're getting older. One would think that would be good,
at least from a marketing perspective. People in their forties and fifties
typically hold senior positions in their respective fields, earning more
than they ever did before. Although the people who market Mercedes-Benzes
and trusses target the "more mature" demographics, the folks who peddle
clothing, sunglasses, fast food, music, sunblock, and electronics lust after
that Holy Grail of marketing, the 18-34 demographic.
As one of the youngest members of the Baby Boomers proper, I'm
already three years past that upper range of marketing cool. Does
that make me a Late Boomer? I've always been considered a late
bloomer. In any event, my status was brought home to me recently
when the "classic rock" radio station I've been listening to while
driving to and from work for ten years was suddenly transformed into
a "Generation X" station. That's right, a whole radio station
dedicated to the so-called music of a generation that refuses to give
out its real name.
I decided to give this "X" music a try for a few days. At least it
didn't include any rap music, which I can't stand. (The realization
that I was getting old struck home a couple years ago when I caught
myself saying the exact same things about rap music that my parents
said about rock music.) In the long run it was no good. After so
many years I needed to hear those soothingly familiar sounds from the
sixties and seventies.
Since I'm apparently the last conservative in America who doesn't
listen to talk radio, finding a new music station was mandatory.
Eventually I found an FM station that plays music from the 1970s.
It's not all rock music, but at least it's familiar -- it keeps me
happy as I drive to the mall. I can't afford a Mercedes right now,
so I'm going out to buy a truss.
Dave Bealer is a fifty-something mainframe systems programmer who
works with CICS, z/OS and all manner of nasty acronyms at one of the
largest heavy metal shops on the East Coast. He shares a waterfront
townhome in Pasadena, MD. with a cat who annoys him endlessly as he
assiduously avoids writing for and publishing Random Access Humor.
Dave can be reached via e-mail at:
I'm not tense, just terribly alert.