How Generations Should Be Defined
I hate being labeled as a Millennial, but it fits. But it shouldn’t be defined by years: It should be defined by historical events. Hear me out.
Let’s talk about the Lost Generation first: they were born between 1883 and 1900. But those years are bullshit, because it’s more about what they experienced: World War I. There were 14 year olds who signed up for the War, so while they came of age, they fought in the trenches. They also experienced the flu epidemic of 1918-1920. Even the Lost Generation is not those years described because Florence Green who was the last remaining World War I veteran to have served in any capacity was born in 1902, so already years go out the window.
We say that the Greatest Generation was born between 1901 and 1927, but what we should really be talking about is what they experienced. Because they were growing up during World War I. They came of age during the Great Depression and fought in World War II. They grew up with Superman, gangster movies, and Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats. Some of them are still alive as well, close to or into their 100s, but some are still alive.
The Silent Generation was supposedly born between 1928 and 1945, coming of age in World War II and the beginning of the nuclear era. They are who Reagan referred to as “the silent majority” and where a majority of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement comes from. They created rock and roll. They listened to the radio as children. I’ve seen some articles that are like they are “silent” because they had nothing to protest. I would also argue they know exactly where they were when Kennedy was assassinated.
Anyway, it comes to the Baby Boomers who were born between 1946 and 1964, because they came during the post war baby boom. Everybody was having babies. They experienced the Cold War most prevalently. You know, the Vietnam War, going to college when it wasn’t breaking the bank, Woodstock, the moon landing, and of course all the oil and social problems of the 1970s.
And here is when it starts to blur a bit more. Because as a Millennial, I do remember when the Soviet Union stopped existing and the end of the Cold War. I’ve even seen the pen that did it too. But here’s where I think the “Ok, Boomer” thing is really stupid.
You don’t know someone’s experience until they tell you. For example, I am defined as a Millennial, but I have an experience of 9/11 that most people don’t. I was in a high school that was so close to New York City that my classmates and I could see the smoke from the Towers. Most of the members of my community? They lost someone that day. So when I see people invoke 9/11 for political gain? I get pissed because my community at the time was mostly FDNY/NYPD. And sure, like my dad worked for UPS and there were other people who worked other jobs, but a lot of my friends and classmates had someone they were related to work for FDNY, Port Authority, or NYPD.
Generation X or as I like to call them, my parents were born between 1965 to 1980. MTV was where they were, they came of age during the 80s, the collapse of the Soviet Union was happening. The punk movement was in full swing. The birth control pill is introduced right before most of them are born . The Challenger exploded and that was traumatic. Some of them are conservative. But that’s true of every generation. So it’s not really a defining characteristic. What did they experience? The AIDS epidemic and the crack epidemic. Home computers were a thing. My dad was born during the Baby Boomer years, but definitely a Gen X person by experience. He was like a teenager in the 70s, but wasn’t really socially concious until about Reagan, so I would say be experience: Gen X.
Ah, my generation: Millennials who are currently in their 30s. So get out of here with that lazy nonsense. Born between 1981 and 1996, again supposedly, I would say as a Millennial if you remember where you were during 9/11, you’re a Millennial. If you don’t, you’re Gen Z. Obviously, the pendants out there will be like but I was like 26 when that happened. Cool, I’m talking if you remember being in school as someone between like 7 and 20. That’s what makes a Millennial. Oh and let’s not forget the school shootings: Columbine, Paducah? That started when we were kids. We are the ones who grew up in the Internet Age. We remember dial-up and the first memes. We got cell phones as teenagers, or at least I did. Hey, do you remember when you needed a college email for Facebook? I sure do. Oh, and let’s not forget the boy band wars.
Also, when we say we watched 3000 people die on TV and nothing got better? We mean it. From our perspective, we had 9/11, the Great Recession of 2008 and the housing crisis, the election of Donald Trump (because we lost abortion rights and banks keep failing due to his decisions, don’t @ me), and of course, the COVID pandemic. Sooooo… I would say us being pissed is kind of fine? I’ve just turned 36 and I STILL have no retirement, no house, and am worse off than both my parents at my age. And one of them had cancer, so that tells you something.
Gen Z is apparently the years of 1997 to 2012 or whatever. But I would argue, that the experiences of learning in the COVID pandemic is what defines them. Or if they remember the election of Donald Trump if they are on the older side. Parkland is a big defining moment for them. They also are more socially conscious than Millennials I would say. Not because Millennials aren’t, but they are actually out there protesting climate change and people committing genocide against trans people. They are not lazy.
I’m so tired of the generational narrative because apparently you are either a lazy Millennial or a Boomer who doesn’t know what’s really going on. I would posit that the real trick here is learning what experiences people have had to know what generation they actually belong to.
Maybe then, we can actually start listening to each other and get better government, combat climate change, and be fearful of a Ron DeSantis presidency. Because let’s face it: DeSantis will be worse than Trump because he knows how to play the game and he’s smarter.
But I also know Gen Z won’t let that shit slide. And I’ll be cheering right along with them.
Posted on March 14, 2023, in Cultural Sustainability and tagged cultural sustainability, reality, values. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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