Ever hear of how crappy of a person you are, or ever brag about how great of a person you are, just because of what generation you were born in? Ever since high school, I have heard a ton of awful things about my generation and likewise, many awful things about other generations too. Of course, I’ve heard some positive things, but it really seems like everyone is acting quite aggressive to the generations they don’t belong to. From what I’ve heard, that’s nothing new in America. According to older generations, people have always hated on the generations above and below them. It seems like everyone is quite ageist, but why? You’re no less or better of a person because of your date of birth.
Since I’m very interested in the “talk” between the generations, I found myself looking up the differences between each generation and what made them the way they are today. Each generation was raised in a different way and the way each generation reacted to their upbringing varied. With separate world events, exotic ever-changing trends, new technologies, and varying ideologies/morals, each generation developed unique from one another. There is a reason why things happen. We can’t change how the past occurred, but we can alter the way we act towards each other. My hope is that by sharing what made each generation the way they are and clearly defining what they even are to begin with, we can all learn to accept each other for who we, thus with each new generation we raise, we can make humankind a better race to be a part of.
1. The Traditionalists: Born between the years of 1900 to 1945, these people are the oldest living generation and rapidly declining every minute. This generation went through World War II, the Korean War, the end of the Women’s Rights Movement, the red scare, and the Radio Age. Their parents and them had just survived the Great Depression, leaving a lasting impact on this generation as well. This generation was raised in the traditional nuclear family – a married man and woman along with their children. At this time, labor unions began to develop. Work was necessary and not meant to be fun. Work was centered around the idea of, “punch the clock, get the job done”. The company came first and seniority took authority. Training was done on the job, and schooling was more of a dream than a necessity. Work was kept separate from family. These people are hard workers, rule-followers, loyal to their country/duty, confident, respectful of authority, patriotic, conservative, make a lot of sacrifices, and overly trusting in authority and hierarchy. Their focus in business is quality, their motivators to work is security, and they value family and community above all else. Traditionalists are not very individualistic, they tend to follow the crowd and do as their told. They appreciate attendance, socialization, compliance, and practical knowledge. When traditionalists make a promise, they mean it and keep it. Their core principles consist of following the rules, conformity, dedication and sacrifice, unquestioning trust in authority and government, duty before pleasure, family, law and order, giving back being important, loyalty and patriotism, and patience. These people do not deal well with vague orders, do not adapt very well to change, and tend to avoid conflict and confrontation so they tend to make the best out of bad situations. When talking to a traditionalist, they like you to be discrete, formal, logical, and respectful in regards to their age (calling them Mr., Ms., Mrs.). Their idea of retirement is to work for a company for 30 years and then retire and live off of their pension/savings. They tend to look to history for guidance, however, there aren’t too many of this generation left. It doesn’t help that because of much financial insecurity, the population of this generation never got very high to begin with, for people had fewer children. Technology that this generation had:
1901 – electric vacuum cleaner
1903 – first engine-powered airplane
1905 – the chainsaw
1907 – first electric clothes washer
1908 – Ford’s model T car, the first truly affordable vehicle
1920s – invention of modern television
1928 – first electric refrigerator
1930 – modern ballpoint pen
1939 – helicopter
Other names for this generation include The Veterans, The Silent Generation, The Forgotten Generation, and Radio Babies.
2. The Baby Boomers: This generation was born in a huge flux between 1946 and 1964. They’re called the baby boomers because, “Almost exactly nine months after World War II ended, ‘the cry of the baby was heard across the land,’ as historian Landon Jones later described the trend. More babies were born in 1946 than ever before: 3.4 million, 20 percent more than in 1945. This was the beginning of the so-called ‘baby boom.’” (History.com) With the end of the big war, babies could be made with less fear and I’m sure there was a ton of joy in the mix with husbands finally being able to see their wives again and so on. As far as home life goes, the traditional family began to fall apart in result of divorce rates skyrocketing. If there were two parents involved, mothers stayed home while fathers were the breadwinners because children were seen as special and needed to be raised with care. As the baby boomers came about, the development of suburban life increased substantially. The baby boomers went through quite a period of time in America. They lived through the Civil Right Movement, Vietnam War, Cold War with Russia, and start of the space age and space travel. The baby boomers are also known as the “Me generation” and are seen as greedy, ambitious, and materialistic for being taught the American dream as children and for actually trying to follow it as the grew up. Being the children of people who went through serious politically disagreeable wars, this generation grew into peace-loving anti-war hippies in the 70’s and 80’s. Their core values include anti-government, the belief that anything is possible, equal rights and opportunities, personal gratification and growth, optimism, the idea of being involved and making a difference, teamwork, and they follow the belief system of spend now, worry later along with questioning everything. Baby boomers like to work. They’re considered workaholics seeing as they put 60 hours and more into work per week. They actually invented the 50-hour work week. Baby boomers are driven and work to develop their self-worth and identity and like to put in quality work. Boomers were never good at taking off enough time to spend with their family in fear of losing their place in the field and their motto is that they live to work. Education to boomers is looked at as a birthright, but not necessarily a requirement. Baby boomers are known for their ability to handle a crisis, noncompliance, consumerism, to be competitive, multi-tasking, the development of “political correctness”, rebellious and standing up for what they believe in, and being loyal to their children. A lot of technology developed in this time period, but major milestones include:
- 1950s – microwave
- 1957 – first satellite launched to space, Sputnik I
Baby boomers are huge consumers and still pretty much are. They bought all the rock and roll records, hula hoops, Barbies, and Frisbee for their children, televisions, and new cars. If they could buy it, they would (even going as far as buying drugs). As time went on boomers began to fight for equal rights and forgot about their consumerism a little bit. They fought for the LGBT community, African Americans, women’s rights, Mexican immigrants, and much more. Boomers make up 45% of the working world currently, but are slowly declining.
3. Generation X: Gen X-ers were born between the years of 1965 and 1980. Known as the post boomers, Generation X was born to the baby boomers. Because of their parents being such serious workaholics, Gen X learned to balance their personal life and work life better. They also learned to take care of themselves early on, for their parents weren’t necessary there to do it for them. Gen X was the first generation to be daycare children since mothers were also expected to work out of the home. With high divorce rates, families had grown steadily away from the “normal” nuclear family and many single parents started to run the household. This generation watched America lose its power and standing globally as their politicians turned to lies and trickery. The economy began to take a turn for the worse as well, and Gen X’s parents were often laid off. Gen X lived through the Watergate scandal, the energy crisis, the moon landing, corporate downsizing, and the end of the Cold War. This generation became known to potentially not do as financially well as their parents did. Very cautious with their money, Gen X-ers handle their work life and finances responsibly. They go by the motto of, “work smarter, not harder”. Education was looked at as a “way to get there” which is very true because at this point in time, education grew more important than it ever was before. A high school diploma became like gold in the working world. Because of their upbringing as latchkey children, Gen X-ers are very self-reliant. That being the case, they often question authority. Like boomers, they enjoy working, but they hope for a casual work atmosphere, wish for a more meaningful line of work, have no issue with moving from job to job. X-ers like to get in, get quality work done, and get out. They don’t have any desire to stick around and smell the roses. They don’t care too much for work advancement, but do care more for life navigation. Core values of Gen X-ers are balance, diversity, entrepreneurial, fun, education, independence, informality, self-reliance, cynicism, techno literacy, and thinking globally. These people are adaptable, “angry but don’t know why”, confident, ethical, flexible, focus on results, tend to ignore leadership, pampered by their parents, have a strong sense of entitlement, unimpressed with authority and skeptical of institutions, like to balance work life and personal life, and are able to handle responsibility well. Gen X-ers were hardcore “gamers” and TV nuts. They watched MTV, Sesame street, and lots of news. The Gameboy and the PC came out and were heavily used. This time was filled with technology blooming. Technology at this time that came to use includes:
- 1973 – first handheld cell phone
- 1976 – first personal home computers
- 1980s – portable Walkman
Generation X is obsessed with email. They like to be communicated to often and in concise manner. They don’t want to hear professional jargon. They work to live, but they are not loyal to the companies that trained them. Gen X is known as possibly one of the most misunderstood generations.
4. The Millennials: The famously hated on Millennials are those born between 1981 and 2000. There are many nicknames for this generation (which I am proudly part of). We are known as Generation Y, Generation Next (Nexters), Echo Boomers (there are so many of us like the baby boomers), Chief Friendship Officers, and 24/7’s. Chief friendship officers? Well, that’s because of how much we desire equality and how forced we are to be “politically correct”. 24/7’s? We never sleep. Technology keeps every one of our generation up. When some of us finally sleep, the rest wake up to text on our cell phones. Families of millennials are merged with others, mixed, and/or often led by single parent or grandparents. Our major worldly influences include 9/11, terrorism, digital media, school shootings, growing up as children of divorce, AIDs epidemic, gay marriage legalization, police violence, black lives matter, TV talk shows, and so much more (the world seems to be getting more and more busy with issues). We look at the world and see all the ugly and hope that we can do something to make a change. We want to be the next “great” generation. We grew up sheltered and coddled, for our parents wanted to do anything they could to protect us from the cruelties of the world. Millennials are ambitious and have big dreams, but are often unfocused and need guidance. We’re stuck to our gadgets and reliant on our parents. We’ve had superior education which is now looked at as a requirement to succeed in life. Work for millennials is much like how it is for Gen X-ers, a way to live. Millennials are huge fans of diversity and multiculturalism. We strive for equality and thinking globally. We are undeniably obsessed with our technology and have never lived without the existence of computers, but on the bright side of that, it has made education better than ever and made the generation very innovative and good at multi-tasking. After being sheltered all our lives, we’ve come out of our boxes and are very politically savvy, team oriented, open to new ideas as well as very patriotic. We are known as self-entitled and self-absorbed, often theorized to be the result of the children of our generation being rewarded for simple attendance and participation. Millennials have a lot going on. They work hard to balance their personal life, work, and community. They often test authority while at the same time, looking for authority figures for help. Like Gen X-ers, they like to punch in to work, get the job done, and then leave for the day. They sought out more meaningful work and actually prefer to have a job they love than a job that pays well. Core values to millennials include achievement, civic duty, over-confidence, fun, high morals, tolerance, competition, attention, technology, education, spiritualism, realism, street smarts, and sociability. Millennials hate to be talked down to, they like manners and friendliness, private messaging is preferred, they like when talked to in a positive manner and sharing optimism, and they appreciate humor and making situations lighthearted. Technology developed during this time period:
- 1983 – CDs for music
- 1989 – worldwide web
I personally believe the millennials have the highest potential of all the generations passed that can make good changes to the world.
5. Generation Z: Born after 2000. Not enough is really known about Generation Z except for that they are very similar to Millennials so far. As time commences, more will be discovered.
After looking into each of the generations, I’ve found myself much more understanding as to why older and younger generations do things certain ways. It’s just one more perspective to have in normal life communication and socialization. Each generation is different and different is okay. What is important is that we all work together to understand each other and continue to work for our planet to be a better place so that the next generation can lead happy lives.