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generational questions for the day

Thinking out loud, basically, but inviting you into the conversation I've been having with myself (I bore myself to sleep sometimes).

Is there a generation in between baby boomers and Generation X? Was that the ME generation and, if so, what years does that encompass?

How is your generation defined? Or, how do you define your generation; by its living standards, its pop culture, its social structure or the world events that happened and how you reacted to them?

Is it stupid to label generations and subscribe such qualities to them? Would it be better to just say "what decade(s) did you grow up in?" as in "I am a child of the 60s/70s." Even then it gets confusing. What I mean is, do you identify yourself with a specific decade or decades and why or why not? What parts of those decades do you identify with? Are there certain pop culture references that you attach yourself to - music, tv shows, etc.?

And what do you think this generation (kids now in high school/junior high) will bring to the table, or how will they be defined?

That's enough questions to go on, I think. Add what you want. I'll write longer on this another day, but I'm really interested in your thoughts.

Comments

I'm 24 and I don't identify with my generation at all. I'd call it Generation Whatever. Complete apathy. Constant drifters from job to job, apartment to apartment, lover to lover, etc. I look at them with disgust because these are the people I went to grade school with. We had the same opportunities and they chose to squander them. It's looking like the kids coming up are going to be doing the same thing.

Ah looks like there's already a term for it:

http://lifestylism.blogspot.com/2005/01/twixters.html

I have been told it's called Generation Jones

I wrote about it here.

Here's a much better description of my gen:

http://nomayo.mu.nu/archives/010798.php

The Pepsi Generation?

I was born in 1956, and I more or less belong to the tail end of the baby boomers. More or less. OTOH, my brother was born in '59, and he comes across as a GenX type.

I'm the same age as you, Michele, and I have always thought the same thing. Too young to be a Boomer, too old to be Gen-X.

I usually just think of us as "The Lost Generation".

I hit 13 in 1980, thus having spent my entire teen years in the 80s with big hair and leg warmers, I kinda consider that the defining whatever of my "generation."

I was born in '60, the youngest of a boomeresque family of five siblings, but probably have more in common with the Xers than the Boomers.

AC

Have to say I'm a child of the 70's (I'm a year younger than you, Michele). Hard to give that generation a name. There was just nothing to believe in. Only thing I cared about was hangin' out.

Sad.

Neither decades nor generations are a perfect fit for me. 1976 is right between Generations X and Y; nobody can agree which it belongs to. I was 13 in 1989; I grew up on Colecovision and Atari and the Apple IIe. But I mostly ignored society and pop culture until the early 90's. So I've never felt a real strong sense of identity with any particular group - I'd call myself a child of the digital age, I guess.

I was born in 1978. Most consider that the ass-end of Generation X.

I don't feel connected to Gen X, though. My brothers, who were born in 1966 and 1970, are squarely part of Generation X, and my world seems quite different from theirs. And when I think of Gen X, "Reality Bites" comes to mind. People who were having job angst in the early 90s. When I was still a kid worried about my zits, and a little too young to go to Lollapalooza.

But what is the alternative? I work at a university, and I'm WORLDS removed from the 18 year old Generation Yers (or whatever) that surround me. These kids came of age in a very "someone please think of the children" time. They're also sooooo obsessed with success. I had a metal swingset and I failed a few classes in school, and dammit those things are OKAY.

So from my perspective, this whole generation thing is a load of crap. But I think I'm just mad because I don't fit in anywhere, Heh. Maybe that perspective means I'm a Gen Xer after all.

Gawd, this makes me feel older than the "what was your favorite song in school" discussions.

I only identify with a generation when we have a common nostalgia. I have always thought these labels were a form of Ageism or Classism and an attempt to sum up people with a 2 second sound byte.

Smack in the middle of the '60s, however my students tell me that means the 1860s. We should allow retroactive birth control.

As a dreaded marketing person, Baby Boomers are generally divided up into older Boomers (1946-1955) and younger Boomers (1956-1964). The comes Gen x (around 1965-1976). The next bunch will probably be set around 1977-1990 are sometime called Gen Y, Echo Boomers, Digital Generation or Gen Again.

While I think the generations concept has a lot of meaning, breaking them down a bit further into cohort "waves" is also useful. For example, one I've heard used a lot is dividing Generation X into the "Atari Wave" (something like birth years 1965-1971?) and the "Nintendo Wave" (1972-19??) One of my personal pet theories related to this particular division has to do with what crappy TV you grew up watching.

When I was a kid (born 1969), the local independent TV stations didn't run much if any "new" programming for kids in the morning and afternoon. They ran what was cheap to show - basically, stuff that originally ran in the '50s or '60s. And while a lot of it was junk, you actually got some pretty wide cultural exposure that way, seeing everything from I Love Lucy to Bugs Bunny to Star Trek.

But the "Nintendo Wave" coincided with the dubious innovation of new kid shows created to sell toys (e.g. G.I. Joe, Transformers, etc.) And these shows tended to push the musty old reruns out of the way, or into 4:00 AM time slots where kids wouldn't see them.

On the other side, I tend to think of the 1960-1965ish wave as a cusp between Boomers and Xers, with some characteristics of each.

I was born in the 4Q of 1964, and some 'charts' put me as a Boomer; Charlotte confirms for me that I am considered a 'younger boomer', for what that is worth.

I think it is silly to label a Generation... think for a moment, what was the Generation called before Boomers? Or before that? Or did no one care?

What will define this generation? The War on Terror; this won't soon be over.

Like David C, I can relate to the pop culture of NYC TV in the '70s... loads of classics like Lucy, F-Troop, Odd Couple and M*A*S*H. Compared to today's fare, I prefer TVLand. With this cultural base, one can find himself thinking he's older than he is.

In the words of the Bard,
all of his mates are doing time:
married with three kids up by the ring road
sold their souls straight down the line...

Now they're too old to Rock'n'Roll and they're too young to die.

David C:

I like that a lot. Crappy TV certainly makes these definitions possible.

The whole Nintendo Wave and Atari Wave makes perfect sense, too. Though I'd stop the Nintendo wave sometime in the 80s. PlayStation was the rage in the 90s.

Charlie:

The generation before the Boomers was the one dubbed the "Greatest Generation." I think. But that was waaaaaay after-the-fact.

Maybe they didn't get a desgination earlier because they didn't grow up on crappy TV.

Actually, there's a whole generation between the "Greatest" generation and the Boomers, the "Silents."

http://www.fourthturning.com/my_html/body_generations_in_history.html

I was born in 1976, and I'm amused by the idea that someday, if I live to be an old man I'll be considered a back-number, like the people who were/are able to remember riding around in horse-drawn buggies and having gaslights in their homes.

I can't wait to tell those kids to get off of my futuristic lawn.

The generation before the Boomers was the one dubbed the "Greatest Generation." I think. But that was waaaaaay after-the-fact.

Precisely, Stacella, after the fact (not that they didn't earn the title, btw).

But taking my example further, who was before The Greatest? I think these labels are a modern-day identity issue, which would beg the question 'what's the need for the identity?'

How bout which teen movie comes closet to depicting what high school was like for you?

"How bout which teen movie comes closet to depicting what high school was like for you?"

Not a movie, but "That 70's Show" is about how I remember it :)

I'm in that tweener generation with you and Keith. I don't feel much of a connection to a "generation."

More to the point, I think it's pointless to let the media define/identify generations. To the media, all people are demographic markets to be advertised to, and thus their constant attempts to pigeonhole everyone..

I've been called Gen X, tweener, and been declared an honorary 17 year old by high school aged coworkers. I identify with things from my childhood to the present, whether it's Sanford & Son or Lost; Bay City Rollers or Franz Ferdinand.

As to the current generation? I think they would turn out pretty okay if they hadn'te been targeted as a marketing group since before their umbilical cords had been cut.

There was no "Me Generation"; it was the "Me Decade" (1970s), coined by leftover hippies who suddenly found that all the boomers who pretended to be hippies had gone off and gotten jobs and houses instead of continuing to work for "the revolution".

A teen movie about my generation's high school years? It's rather obscure, but "The Chicken Chronicles" pretty much nails it.

The Generation Jones website was interesting; thank you to whoever posted the URL.

I was born in 1955, the youngest of 4 whose siblings are 5, 8, and 9 years older than me. I think my generation differs from others because we grew up in one era and came of age in the next. When we were growing up, our childhood years were more closely related to the 50's....more idyllic, if you will; the Vietnam War wasn't an issue for most of us until we were teens and had family members serving there or were seeing the evening news reports.

By the time we were teens/young adults, society had gone through so many radical changes - for the Boomers, those changes were happening while they were in their late 20's and early-to-mid 30's, but we were still in high school when the sexual revolution, music revolution, and easy access to drugs was in full gear. We were experiencing things at 12, 13, and 14 that the Boomers didn't face until they were in college or beyond.

And we're the generation that those commercials are aimed now...you know, the ones about finding out your kid does drugs and how do you handle it? Do you tell him you did them too so you know the pitfalls? Or do you pretend you were squeaky clean in high school?

Ours is probably the last generation where more moms stayed home than went to work, and for many women of my generation, trying to reconcile the desire to be a stay-home mom to the realities of needing to either support oneself or because the family needs two incomes can be very tough - because in high school, the women's movement hit strong and the message was that staying home with kids was tantamount to volunteering for a lobotomy.

Yeah....we've got some issues. But our generation had the best toys!

I think I was just born the wrong year - '62. I don't relate to the boomers because they're older and completely obsessed with how amazing their generation's music, politics, etc., were. I'm not quite an X'er. I seem to have the social ideals of the boomers and the existential angst of the X'ers.

I think we should call it the Middle Child Syndrome Generation.

Disclaimer: I'm not a huge believer in segretating people by "generations." The populations are just too large and diverse to draw many generally-applicable conclusions.

That said, I was born in '68, grew up in the 80's, and I think its safe to say that I and my contemporaries have always had the sinking feeling that it's going to be our job (whether we want it or not) to clean up after the Sixties pukes.

That said, I was born in '68, grew up in the 80's, and I think its safe to say that I and my contemporaries have always had the sinking feeling that it's going to be our job (whether we want it or not) to clean up after the Sixties pukes.

AMEN, brutha!

I used to work with a guy who was born in 1965 and he seemed to be trying way too hard to be "Gen X" whatever that meant, even though he had all the trappings of a baby boomer.

I was born in '61 in Chicago so there was all of that '68 Convention stuff left over as I came of age in the 70s. I've always considered us the diapers of the Baby Boomers, left holding all of their crap.

Seriously though...I used to stress about which generation I belonged to and then I just sort of shrugged it off and tried to figure out how to get through a day without having to chew through the leather straps.

I was born in '69 but don't always relate to "Generation X" (especially the "slacker" moniker).

My parents were members of the "Silent Generation," most of my friends' parents were early Boomers - which I think lead to a lot of differences between us.

I also teach at a university. Stacella said:

"But what is the alternative? I work at a university, and I'm WORLDS removed from the 18 year old Generation Yers (or whatever) that surround me. These kids came of age in a very "someone please think of the children" time. They're also sooooo obsessed with success."

I don't so much see the success-obsession where I am; more often I see the "Accomodate Me!" obsession - people who make horrible life- choices and then expecting their profs to put up with them handing in work late/needing to make up exams/needing to retake classes because of it. I blame the "Accomodate Me!" generation squarely on indulgent parents who felt vague guilt over working long hours, or who wanted to be their kids' "buddy" instead of their kids' "parent"

What I tend to see among the current 18-20 year olds (not all of them, and perhaps it's even only 20% or so, but it's enough to be distressing) is a massive sense of entitlement and a miniscule or absent work ethic. I had a student just recently get all aghast that I was asking them to do homework On. Their. Own. Time. Because, you know, he didn't like to work on his own time, he expected that everything he "needed" to learn the subject should be done solely on the slightly-less-than-three-hours we have per week.

I guess "success obsession" could be true if you consider it to be grade-grubbing while doing minimal work. No one wants to LEARN, yet everyone wants that A.

Okay, I'm done now. I could keep ranting about "What is it with kids today" all week....

The "Nintendo Wave" definitely started after 1972. That's when I was born, and the Nintendo/cartoons-to-sell-toys thing didn't really start until I was a teenager. I'd say the "Nintendo Wave" started after GenX, in the mid-70s.

To me, the defining trait of Generation X is that we grew up with Schoolhouse Rock. Kids today don't even realize you can sing the preamble to the Constitution.

Interesting question. Musically, being born in 1972, I personally am defined by Talking Heads, grunge as a whole and Radiohead. Looking at my "peers" I know that I'm very alone in my tastes.

Also, being a first generation Aussie of Italian parentage, I see myself as a transitional generation that has been completely confused by 2 conflicting cultures and never really being totally at ease with either one. I think that my son will complete the family migration that started in the late 60's, but will only be truly be complete once my little guy grows up.