I was recently asked to complete a survey and the following question popped up, asking what generation I fell into. Do people really identify with their peers in their generational group? Since the onset of the millennials, it was merely a tool for sociologists to categorize people, but does it define you as it seems to with millennials?
I for one do not feel it ought to, mainly because just as you can’t say that everyone born under the sign of Taurus is stubborn, that all people in the same generation bracket will have the same outlook, abilities, priorities, or challenges.
The generations were broadly defined as follows, where a generation should roughly be a period of 20 years. To me that makes sense, as that is the age when someone realistically would settle down and have children, thus creates another generation.
- Traditionalists or the Great Generation: born before 1945, mainly because they survived World War II.
- Baby Boomers: born 1946 to 1964, a generation to replace the many lives lost in the war.
- Generation X: born 1965 to 1976, a complex generation spanning the 60s and 70s where equality and freedom of speech changed the fabric of society.
- Millennials, Generation Me, or Gen Y: born 1977 to 1995. The dates are debatable, where some researchers say millennials are born as late as 1982 to 2004, where many have grown up with technology such as smartphones and the internet.
- iGen or GenZ: born 1996 onwards.
Apparently I am part of Generation X, but it means nothing to me. How we are brought up depends a lot on your parent’s choices, where they chose to live, work, what schools they wanted you to go to, and how wealthy they were. Nothing much has changed, because while opportunities maybe be accessible to more people, that’s because advanced technology has made it possible, with the mass production and distribution of goods, and genetically modified foods (I’m sure there are others, but these are elements that affect all social sectors from working class to the wealthy) so food has become cheaper.
I’d never given it much thought before because even when opportunities are available, it’s up to the individual to take them and respond to them. Not all do. University education was still free in my day, but not everyone wanted to go and didn’t take that opportunity even if they were clever enough to gain a place. Now, nearly anyone can go as long as you pay, so has that advanced society at all? It seems to me that money plays a part—as long as you can afford to go it doesn’t matter what you study or if you are clever enough. It reminds me of the US election, if you have enough money to buy media outlets that report fake news, you can win an election by misleading people and brainwashing them.
I’m not going to bash millennials, but they don’t make it easy for themselves at all when many whine publicly with an air of entitlement. Don’t they realize that’s why they ended up being called Generation Me? It only came to my attention a few years ago when a new friend of mine was talking about her only child, a son. She stated that he was a millennial, at which point there was silence because I didn’t know what she expected me to say. Congratulations for what exactly? Being the open, frank, direct, and transparent person I am, I asked why that mattered, especially as she said it so proudly as if to infer some super power. I listened to her saying that they were the intelligent generation that will be the most successful one in mankind. Now I had to grin, because I wondered whether she really believed what she had just said. Most of my friends could be classed as millennials, however the majority would not use that label, as I find most that do, need to define themselves in a way to prove something, although I’m not sure quite what. I can guess, but instead millennials are mocked because they assume and expect others will respect them for using the label.
Whoever created these terms and dates, don’t they know the harm is can cause to a generation that use it as a crutch? Then I ask why is Generation X only a decade long, and millennials span nearly two decades? There are some people that believe all this hype, and it’s a concern when they judge you on which generation you belong to. The same friend who believed this hype did just that. I offered to help her with her website, and she said I was too old, and that she could only trust someone younger because I wouldn’t know what to do. I had to correct her in that many experts were my age, if not older and ability isn’t reliant on what generation you are from, but what experience and intelligence you possess. Simply being born within a certain time frame does not automatically confer abilities. Somehow some people have a misconception that this is the case, or that millennials can offer more? I’m not sure how this all spun out of control, maybe the media (flooded with millennials) has convinced their peers that this is what they should be doing and behaving?
#HowToConfuseAMillenial is amusing because obviously a huge sector of society sees millennials behaving with arrogance, and are a little tired of it. There was never any of this backlash with Generation X! I recently read a glossy magazine, and most of the articles were geared towards (and probably written by millennials) and even had millennial in the heading. If they can’t see that they have brought this on themselves, then they aren’t that bright. Some are eating humble pie and realizing that stomping their feet will not make Brexit go away, and that now they have Trump in power, they can’t protest without being threatened.
Yes millennial, that’s called life and learning what not to say and what to say at the right time, not to take things for granted, know you are replaceable in any job, and that you will grow old and be a pensioner one day, and wonder why the younger generation think they have more rights or a say in society than you do. However, not all millennials are like this, and I have many friends who are sensible, and humble beings, but they are the ones that remain silent and let their actions speak for themselves, while others speak with their ego.
As for my own generation (also called the Lost Generation), I don’t think there is a typical person, as most bridged the generations where technology changed society. We lived through two official major recessions as adults in the UK (1990 and 2008), learned to live with and without cell phones, survived with three television channels and then got used to satellite, used cassettes and records and then CDs (mini discs too for those who remember them), hotels and flights had to be booked on the phone with hours spent trawling through the ads to find the best deals, a gap year was done with a paperback guide and nothing more, and there were only a few wheeled suitcases around (Samsonite that were expensive) so you learned to carry your luggage. I don’t feel we were lost, but we learned some tough lessons without much support. Essays had to be handwritten, research had to be done through actually reading books, I can actually read a physical map, and I can write a text without using autocorrect. Yes, my generation appreciates things more because while technology has made life easier, we still remember the days before all the mod cons.
While people like to stereotype and pigeon hole people, we aren’t all necessarily a product of our generation, but what we choose to take from what develops in our era during our formative years. I just hope millennials understand why there is so much bashing—it’s because they brought it upon themselves, when really they shouldn’t use the label to define who they think or believe they are. Eventually they will learn no one was out to get them, but people were tired of their arrogance and spoilt brat behavior. They can try and deny it, but anyone who feels they must be defined by a label is not an individual or one that thinks for themselves.