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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.

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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.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor