Who decided I was a boomer?

I'd like to meet the policy analyst or sociologist who coined the term "baby boomer" and give him a piece of my mind.

The first reference to "baby boom," according to New York Times language columnist William Safire, appeared in a 1953 report to President Truman by the Commissioner on Immigration and Naturalization. It has come to refer to the postwar period of increased population growth from 1946 to roughly 1964.

The phrase came into popular use more recently, and some people credit Landon Jones's 1980 book, "Great Expectations: Americans and the Baby Boom."

As someone born just two years before the 1964 cutoff, I am statistically a boomer, but wary of the label. Baby boomers have a poor reputation in the media, with less-than-flattering descriptions of us as being insatiable consumers, youth worshippers, and self-seeking navel gazers.

We're on our way to becoming the most-debated, most-written-about demographic group in history. Some boomers may welcome the increased attention from politicians and advertisers. I am not one of them.

It's hard to say which is more annoying - being labeled in the first place or becoming the marketing target for products from mouthwash to life insurance.

What if I don't feel like a boomer? Is it possible to opt out of the club - especially since my tastes, ambitions, and goals aren't in lock step with what sociologists peg as those of the boomers?

Perhaps this group is reading about itself with a mixture of skepticism and knowingness.

We recognize that no label will really stick to such a body of stalwart individualists. We hope.

E-mail the Homefront at home@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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