While I am burdened with the popular affliction of “too many eggs in too many baskets” (in other words, being vaguely interested in too many things at once), one major interest I have is in the study of generations, and how they change and interact. Bit of weird one but, as most people, I’m a bit obsessed with labels. And in particular, the labels we put on those born at certain times, to try and determine their social standing.
And from what I’ve read, its weirdly accurate. The labeling, I mean. Even if the research is all being done by one particular generation.But I’m not bitter or anything. So, to take the research I’ve seen and add my own perspective on it, here’s my low-down to the generations… or a few of them, at least.
While not currently the oldest of the bunch, but definitely old enough, Generation X are the product of the Baby Boomers and it definitely shows. Way too many of them and everything bad seemed to happen to them, Gen X were the first to experience parental divorce in the masses, and honestly you would think that would have taught them a lesson. Being born between mid 1960’s to around 1980, Gen X were also the first generation to begin the norm of a higher education, with 29% of them gaining a bachelors degree or higher.
But, compared to their parents – born in the era of Civil Rights and Women’s Movements – Gen X seems content keeping its heads in the sand, with this generation having the lowest voting participation rates of any generation before or after. This also gives them this aura of skepticism and a “what’s in it for me?” attitude (according to William J. Schroer in this article). If you’re not following just who I’m talking about, it’s probably your parents. And if you’re still not getting it, let me demonstrate:
Get it now? Good. And before I get into any more details, let’s move on.
Now, here’s where my own little theories come in. Technically, another name for the M’s would be ‘Gen Y’, but I’m gonna save that label. You’ll see why later.
Now, the Millennials are the group of young(ish) people your parents complain about. The middle ground between the cast of Sex and the City and the cast of everything on Disney Channel right now. At the moment, stuck in their twenties and still laughing about being “90’s kids”, the Millennials are decidedly the “lazy” lot who became dependent on technology first. They saw the evolution from tapes to CDs to Spotify before the age of thirty and are way, way cleverer than anyone gives them credit for.
Basically rebelling against everything their Gen X parents ever taught them, including racism, sexism and general ignorance, the M’s (as I’ll lovingly call them) pretty much found a brand new way of living, flocking to the big cities to pursue their big dreams and only finding that Rachel Green was a big fat liar and no one can live in New York on a waitress’ salary. But upon finding this, decided to create their own careers, and hereby came the YouTubers, the Freelancers, the Web Designers, the everything else-ers.Some examples of who I’m on about…
Now what I would call Generation Y are normally grouped with the Millennials, but because I myself am a selfish and entitled ‘Y’, I’m making my own group. The only reason for doing this – as M’s and Y’s are actually not too far apart in age (what would normally indicate a generation gap) – is because I have seen marked differences between the two groups. One being that although very close in age, Generation Y seem intent on correcting and managing the mistakes of those ahead of us. With many now turning to voting age, or coming up to, we take a severe interest in politics, things like gender and race equality and even animal rights, just as much as our Baby Boomer ancestors, if not more.
With things like the UK EU Referendum and the next American Presidential Elections on the horizon, more and more Y’s are taking to social media to promote their beliefs to other Y’ers, to help spread the word on what we should be voting for and why. Unfortunately for them, their X parents haven’t caught up to speed, and views remain vastly different throughout the ages.
It is not only the differing political beliefs that sets apart Gen Y from the Millennials in my eyes. As mentioned previously, Gen M seemed determined to repeat the mistakes of their parents or worse, by living for experience and less for security. Moving to big cities, getting their degrees but then not really doing much with them. Or doing what they want, but forfeiting happy relationships in the process. Millennials seem intent on behaving on only one end of a large spectrum – successful or happy. And this is where Generation Y comes in.
From my own experience, I’ve seen more people my own age start up secure families and find secure jobs, even having children but in a safe and happy environment, without any fuss. I don’t mean to sound like my generation is the best but… I mean… we are.
Gen Z and Gen Alpha
And finally, the most important generations of any to talk about: the children of the age. I class Gen Z as anyone born from around 2006 to now. Young children and toddlers, who don’t even know what they don’t know yet. Bless their little hearts. And now they’re calling the even younger young ones, the twinkles in their mothers eyes, they’re calling them Generation Alpha. Yes, you heard me right.
These kids will never know what it’s like to live in a world without iPhones and iPads and Facebook viral videos. And there’s no way to know whether the mistakes of their parents and grandparents will be reenacted through this new age children, or whether they will create some completely new way of living. Hell, by the time I’m retired, these kids might have fixed every equality, political and economical issue us humans have built up over the last 1000 years.
But one can only dream, eh?