Cuspers!

I knew there was a word for us!

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I thought I belonged in a group that was post-Boomer and pre-Xer. (I also left out the WWII generation –oops. Apparently not the greatest to me…) I IM’d Kev, who’s always online when I’m composing my blog, but he quoted Wikipedia (“it could be true”) with the standard saw that Boomers were born 1946-1964 and Generation X is 1964-1984. Kev was my high school sweetheart and loyal cohort all these years. But I was sure I’d read something else that gave more insight.

And here it is. This article, written by Jocelyn Noveck, was picked up extensively by papers on the AP service. I randomly picked this posting of it. Besides, how often do YOU read the Texarkana Gazette? Not often, I’m thinking.

Cuspers. I feel like this is so us. Me and President Obama. He was born in ’61 and I was born in ’66. They call us practical idealists — something that resonates with me. In an essay I wrote ten years ago I said:

We grew up in a world already poisoned, species irrevocably lost. To us, to work for the environment means knowing how to keep things from getting worse, and trying to clean up what’s been sullied. We’ve been accused of being a cynical generation, and perhaps that’s accurate. People like Sean and me, we’re not the impassioned knights of the environment. This is our job — one we can believe in, invest in — not a crusade.

I feel so validated now.

I popped this article off to my Boomer mother as soon as I read it. Of course, she was frivolously off touring Egypt at the time, so I had to wait for her indignation. She picked Obama way back when Hillary was still queen of the campaign. In my practical idealist way, I thought Obama couldn’t win. I’m thrilled I was wrong. But if one of us gets to claim Obama as “her president,” it’s my mom, by right of precedence.

All of this parsing means little. How do you draw timelines on generations of people, after all? If we all had babies at the same time, that would be one thing. By the Gen X definition, I’m in the same generation as my stepson and stepdaughter — granted I mucked things up by not actually giving birth to them. Though I could have, if I’d been a teenage mom. Blended families, though, blur these lines as well.

I recognize myself as a Cusper though. My website description, written back in 2002 says this:

My stats make me a fence-sitter: Post-Baby-Boomer, Pre-Generation-X. I saw the first episode of Sesame Street when I was four, but live in a house without television. I grew up in a city in the West that is no longer considered part of the real West.

In college I participated in a pysch experiment where we had to take a personality test: I came out exactly betwen Type A and Type B. I was born on the Leo/Virgo cusp. My friend, who’s a brilliant writer and exactly my age, shy of a few weeks, complained that she received a rejection from and editor who suggested that she uses too many qualifiers. (Here’s a great example list: very, quite, rather, somewhat, more, most, less, least, too, so, just, enough, indeed, still, almost, fairly, really, pretty, even, a bit, a little, a (whole) lot, a good deal, a great deal, kind of, sort of.)

Do you see what I see? That’s right. Cusper words. Indeed, we’re all about the qualified grey area.

One Reply to “Cuspers!”

  1. This is a very well-written blog and post. Congrats. You obviously get it when it comes to the feeling many of us in this age group have that we are a separate generation between the Boomers and Xers. Our long-lost generation finally has a name which has caught on in a big way nationally: Generation Jones.

    But not “cuspers”! Eccchh. Yuk. After all these years of being denied a collective name, the last thing we should get is name that defines us by our neighbors, ie. we should be defined by who we are, not who we aren’t. Cuspers implies we are not really our own generation, just a segment on the cusp between real generations. Moot point, since Cuspers has never caught on at all, while Generation Jones has already established itself as very popular with a national following. Google Cuspers and you’ll see that virtually nobody uses that term for the generation between the Boomers and Xers. Cuspers was proposed as a name for this generation 10 years ago when Boomers and Xers were the two dominant generations, but it never caught on at all, and anyway, doesn’t even make sense at this point, since now people between GenX and GenY, and those born between GenY and GenZ, are called cuspers. That AP article you reference got some attention for that old cusper label for a few weeks in January. Since then it has completely died.

    By contrast, google the term Generation Jones, and you’ll see that it’s gained a big national following…it’s gotten a ton of media attention, and many top commentators from numerous top publications and networks (New York Times, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) are specifically referring to Obama, born in 1961, as part of Generation Jones. While literally no prominent voices use the term cuspers for this age cohort, a long list of prominent names regularly use the term Generation Jones for it.

    I think the reason I’m so passionate about this is because I care about our generation finally having our collective voice heard, and I’ve been so glad that we finally have a name that has caught on–Generation Jones–that I’m annoyed by this distraction of any other term which obviously is not going to catch on anyway.

    We are Generation Jones, and let’s get on with the business of fixing this country. Here’s a recent op-ed in USA TODAY by the guy who coined the term Generation Jones which reflects why Generation Jones fits our generation so well and has become so popular:
    http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20090127/column27_st.art.htm

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