Monday, August 14, 2023

Philip Bump, The Aftermath: The Last Days of the Baby Boom and the Future of America (Viking, 2023)

I write this sitting in front of a window open on a fine summer’s morning. On any other day, I’d be in an equally fine mood, but today I find my internet connection has suddenly gone missing and, after seven hours on the phone with my “helpful” ISP, I am still accessing the online world through a supremely unstable iPhone hotspot. Insert “OK, Boomer” comment here.

Yes, this is a first-world problem, but it’s one problem those of us in the Boomer generation would never have anticipated—let alone imagined—30 years ago. It is a problem, as Bump argues here in this biography of my generation, that arises from the shift in society’s focus away from us old-timers. “Younger Americans,” he writes, “now dominate a cultural conversation that often depends on the sort of technologies that have emerged only relatively recently.”

This is not easy medicine for Boomers to take. Put it into context: the population of the United States was 140 million in 1945, but, over the next nineteen years, some 76 million babies were born, forming what Bump calls “a baby tsunami,” causing “the entire country [to] scramble to try to accommodate this sudden shift in population.” All our lives, it has been about us.

I have written before about the phenomenon of classic rock forming the background music of everyday life. Bump reinforces—and generalizes from—my earlier observations, and points to where all of this is headed: “The generation that established the primacy of the teenaged consumer,” he observes, referring to—ahem—Boomers, “is now watching its teenaged kids and grandchildren getting that attention.”

This is, as they say, as it should be. We may not soon be strolling through a grocery store accompanied by Lizzo tunes, but the change is inevitable. As the Boomer generation inevitably shrinks, the next large demographic bump has already begun to coalesce as a demographic target for entrepreneurs seeking to catch the next big generation’s wave.

No comments :

Post a Comment