Today I’m railing against the generation wars.
I’m considered Generation X given my age (1965-1979), and in my more youthful years, I heard about how “sorry” my generation was, all based on media-driven “characteristics” presented as indicia of the behavior pattern of everyone in my age range.
Growing up in the budding era where most families started to need two incomes to live as well as previous generations did on one, my generation became “latchkey kids” who raised themselves for the most part on microwave food, VCR tapes, and MTV (back when it was really Music Television in more than just name).
Generation X back then were characterized as cynical, disaffected slackers that wouldn’t contribute as much to society as the generations before us.
The millennial generation, persons born between 1980 and the late 1990s, are often characterized by many of the misconceptions listed in the graphic that opens this post. Lazy, entitled, and needy. Not unlike how Generation X was characterized and how Generation Y is already beginning to be characterized.
Baby Boomers were also tagged as a spoiled, entitled, cynical, and rebellious generation. Given their initial impact on culture and politics in the 1960s and 1970s, one is hard-pressed to dispute the characterization if only looking at the picture the media painted of the generation when they were teenagers and young adults.
The reason I’m tired of the generational generalizations is because it is a rather useless and misleading endeavor in most respects.
Sure, each generation has its somewhat unique general behavior pattern. However, there are slackers, entitled twits, and cynics in every generation and that’s exactly my point.
The only useful aspect to named generations is to gauge how their behavior patterns can and often do drive trends that affect our economic behavior, our politics, and our popular culture.
Millennials are a larger portion of the population than Generation X and even the Boomers and their numbers naturally drive trends that businesses and politicians as well as society in general must pay attention and adapt to.
We are all defined by the times we were shaped by, but ascribing characteristics that are either beneficial or deleterious to society to each group only serves to breed more tribalism and division along those generational lines, and therein lies my problem.
As a member of Generation X, I’ve already gone through my slacker/hip phase and into my responsible/productive phase. If I’m privileged enough, I’ll be in my retired/get off my lawn phase in about 15 years.
Just like everyone who came before me and everyone who comes after me…
-The Rational Ram