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SwanSwanHummingbird's avatar

Does separating people into generations (Gen X, Baby Boomers) tell us anything about the country/world?

Asked by SwanSwanHummingbird (1265 points ) January 22nd, 2014 from iPhone

I’m not sure there is a valid reason to mark the passing of time in terms of generations of people being alike in some way. Baby Boomers, Gen X, the new Millennials, are we any more alike because of our generation as opposed to being alike because of the state/country we live in, or what type of food we like.

Does the idea of a generation tell us something about each other? If so, do you personally identify with a generation? Do you think of others in terms of a generation? Not age, but the culture they grew up in?

How do you define the generations?

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16 Answers

rojo's avatar

No, it is only another way to record the passage of time. Each generation has its heroes and its goats.

zenvelo's avatar

It marks a handy way to make generalizations about demographic groups. A lot of times, though, a generalization about a particular cohort of a generation gets applied across a much larger age range.

I am a Baby Boomer, I was born in1955, which is the boomiest bulge of babies born between 1945 and 1965. But advertisers, planners, marketing firms, sales teams have always targeted the first boomers born in ‘46 – 49, the older brothers and sisters. I’ve been getting retirement carp in the mail for five years now, merely because the older boomers are now retiring.

The span of generations also seems to get shorter now. And when were the Gen Y’s born, and the Millennials?

stanleybmanly's avatar

It’s merely a reflection of the human need to categorize things into groups or boxes, like realtors slapping exotic names on cookie cutter housing developments. The competition for our attention is intense and growing. Catchy labels and phrases SELL.

marinelife's avatar

Each generation has its own paradigm. Its own values, music, cultural norms, shared experiences. So, yes, it can tell us things.

SwanSwanHummingbird's avatar

@marinelife Like what. I’m a member of Gen X. What does that tell you about me?

janbb's avatar

@zenvelo You’ve been getting “retirement carp” in tha mail for years? Sounds fishy to me!

El_Cadejo's avatar

I don’t think so. It’s too large of an age bracket IMO. Someone born in 1981 is going to have a totally different outlook on life and experiences than someone born in 1999 yet they’re both Gen Y.

rojo's avatar

@SwanSwanHummingbird You are one of 44 to 50 million Americans born between 1965 and 1980, a period of birth decline after the baby boom and significantly smaller in number than previous and succeeding generations. You will be in your 30’s, possibly early 40’s. Being from a more ethnically diverse and better educated group than the Baby Boomers you are more racially tolerant and support diversity. There is a better than 60% you have some level of college education. If you are in the legal profession you hold a junior partner, senior associate, mid-level paralegal and mid-level support staff position. If in the business sector, or government, you hold a middle-management position. You came of age in an era of two-income families, rising divorce rates and a faltering economy and grew up in the ‘me generation’ of the 1980s, but are now able to see that it is not all it is cracked up to be. If a woman there is a greater chance you are in the workforce than your mother. You were a “latch-key” kid and as a result, are more independent, resourceful and self-sufficient. In the workplace, You value freedom and responsibility but display a casual disdain for authority and structured work hours. You dislike being micro-managed and embrace a hands-off management philosophy. Since you came of age during a shift from a manufacturing economy to a service economy there is a lesser chance that you hold/held a blue collar factory job. You are the first generation to grow up with computers (such as the Atari 2600), technology is woven into your life, you have learned to adapt and are comfortable using PDAs, cellphones, e-mail, laptops, Blackberrys’ and other technology employed in the workplace. You probably lived through tough economic times in the 1980s and saw their workaholic parents lose hard-earned positions and are therefore less committed to one employer and more willing to change jobs to get ahead than previous generations. You adapt well to change and are tolerant of alternative lifestyles. While ambitious and eager to learn new skills, you want to accomplish things on your own terms. Unlike previous generations, you work to live rather than live to work. You appreciate fun in the workplace and espouse a work hard/play hard mentality. You often incorporate humor and games into work activities.
There is a good chance your parents got divorced and this has made you more determined to have a successful relationship. Having grown up without a stable homelife, you pour everything you have into giving your children just that, no matter how many sacrifices it involves. To provide you kids with what you did not have you probably took out more home equity loans and to spend more on remodeling, per capita, than any generation. You are more emotionally invested in your spouse than previous generations were. You are best friends; your marriage is a genuine partnership. You don’t seek parenting advice from your own parents, why take advice from someone who failed at what you are trying to succeed at, you depend on the people who actually raised you, wolf-pack style, your friends.

Anywhere close?

SwanSwanHummingbird's avatar

Holy shit. That’s almost all right. Just throw in the Grunge rock scene and you nailed it.

But does it tell you something different than knowing what state I grew up in, or the ethnicity of my parents or where I went to college?

I have to admit. That whole paragraph describes me to a T.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Yes, I think each generation can be identified as a whole with certain traits, and I think it is caused by what was going on socially and culturally while they were growing up.

An actual generation is about 20 years long, but the social and cultural climate changes more frequently than that, like every decade. Therefore, if we are going to give generations cute names to identify them, then we have to go decade by decade.

The decade from 1940–1950 are the actual baby boomers. Of course, they got the name “baby boomers” because of a massive amount of babies born between 1945–50, due to the war ending. But still, the people born in this decade have all been exposed to the same things, culturally and socially. They are the hippies, the rebels that started a cultural revolution. They were the ones that were drafted to fight the Vietnam War, and not happy about it. The Beatles were in this generation, being born in 1940–43.

My generation, 1950–60, did not get drafted or fight in the war. We liked the Monkees and the Partridge Family, not the Beatles. We were not rebellious or running off to live in communes. We don’t have a cute name of our own. Sad.

rojo's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt we get dumped in with the boomers or the Jones’. We are like the “lost” generation.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@rojo Yeah, not fair. We need to come up with a name of our own – like the Davy Jones, Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy generation. The Kellogg’s Kids, or something.

rojo's avatar

I like the idea of “The Kellog’s Kids”. What about “The Monkee Generation”?

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Yes, the Monkees did seem to define us. Ha-ha! Kellog’s comes to mind because I remember my friends and I hanging out in our pajamas on Saturday morning, watching Scooby-Doo and eating cheerios, cocoa crispies or fruit loops.

rojo's avatar

What about “The Banana Bunch Kids”?

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