What Is A Boomer?

April 18, 2020 | Jamie Hayes

What Is A Boomer?

OK Boomer. These two words have the power to fill one person with impotent rage and to fill another with empty, smug satisfaction. After years of news articles that detailed the various ways Millennials and then Gen Zers were ruining society, younger generations rallied around this dismissive motto, much to the fury of their parents.

But what is a boomer, exactly? Why are they OK? What’s with this whole generation war anyway? Well, like any story about recent history, it all starts with World War II.

Boom Town

When the War ended, soldiers went home to their loved ones and celebrated. How? Largely by making babies. The post-war economic boom only spurred people on, and for the first time in decades, birth rates went up. Drastically.

This “baby boom” lasted nearly two decades: between 1946 and 1964, 76 million children were born in the United States alone. Let me introduce you to the baby boomers.

What Is A Boomer?Getty Images 25th January 1945: A staff nurse with some new arrivals at the Queen Charlotte Hospital, London. In 1945 more babies were being born in England and Wales than at any other time since 1924.

The Name Game

Now, the boomers weren’t the first generation with a name. Demographic cohorts go back to the Lost Generation who fought in World War I. They were followed by the Greatest Generation, who lived through the Depression and fought in World War II, and the Lost Generation, who came of age during the War.

The boomers came next—but this time was something different. While we have names for all those previous generations now, the practice of labeling people by age-group mostly started with the boomers. Every gen Xer, millennial, and gen Zer has them to thank for that.

What Is A Boomer?Shutterstock

What is a Boomer?

Why were the boomers different? Obviously, there were more of them, but it's not just that. Boomers came up during a time of enormous change, and they were a major part of it. From the Civil Rights movement to Anti-Vietnam War activism, boomers started to see themselves as a distinct countercultural group; one that was at the leading edge of social progress.

What Is A Boomer?Getty Images 29th June 1966: A woman struggles against the police as they carry her away from an anti-Vietnam War demonstration in Grosvenor Square, London.

But boomers weren’t just held together by their drive for social change. They grew up in a time when the economy was gangbusters—and when marketers looked at this entire generation of young, independent teens, they saw dollar signs.

Sell Sell Sell

Consumerism exploded in the postwar era, and baby boomers became the first generation that advertisers specifically analyzed and sold to. Firms intentionally tried to reinforce baby boomers’ sense of generational identity because it made them easier to make them buy the same things—and companies have stuck to the same script with every generation since.

In fact, though “OK Boomer” has seemingly brought inter-generational conflict to a fever-pitch, us young folks actually have more in common with boomers than any group that came before them. They grew up on television, defined themselves through pop culture, and felt like their age-group was distinct from the ones that came before them—the same could be said for any generation that followed.

What Is A Boomer?Shutterstock

Turns out, all these different generations, from Gen Z to baby boomers, have a lot in common. It’s almost like labeling any group of tens of millions of people, who were born over a period of almost 20 years, is reductive and silly. Useful for marketers and people looking to start arguments online, but that’s about it. Maybe putting someone born in 1946 into the same box as someone born in 1964 doesn't make sense—just like doing the same for people born in 1981 and 1996 (the generally accepted definition of "millennial"). 

So let's all just calm down with the OK Boomers and the "back in my days," and just be people. Whaddya say?

Sources: 1, 2

More from Factinate

Featured Article

My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.

Dark Family Secrets

Dark Family Secrets Exposed

Nothing stays hidden forever—and these dark family secrets are proof that when the truth comes out, it can range from devastating to utterly chilling.
April 8, 2020 Samantha Henman

Featured Article

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.

Madame de Pompadour Facts

Entrancing Facts About Madame de Pompadour, France's Most Powerful Mistress

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
December 7, 2018 Kyle Climans

More from Factinate

Featured Article

I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.

These People Got Genius Revenges

When someone really pushes our buttons, we'd like to think that we'd hold our head high and turn the other cheek, but revenge is so, so sweet.
April 22, 2020 Scott Mazza

Featured Article

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.

Catherine of Aragon Facts

Tragic Facts About Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s First Wife

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but very few people know her even darker history.
June 7, 2018 Christine Tran

Dear reader,

Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your time!

Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your help!

Warmest regards,

The Factinate team

Want to learn something new every day?

Join thousands of others and start your morning with our Fact Of The Day newsletter.

Thank you!

Error, please try again.