A Slightly Snarky Field Guide to Modern Generations

29 10 2015

These things are always subject to debate, so this is just a general guide.

GREATEST GENERATION

Birth years:  1910-1927
Ages in 2015:  88-105

Discussion

The generation that experienced the Great Depression and fought WWII.  A glamour generation, i.e. a generation that has had a lot of ink spilled about it in a reverential sense from forgettable but easily lampoonable national news anchors.  After WWII, they came home, jumped into the sack, and spawned another glamour generation, see below.  The latter part of this generation was born during the Roaring Twenties, so there were/are a lot of them, relatively speaking.  Members of this generation are currently croaking by the thousands every day.

Every President from the 35th (JFK) to the 41st (the first Bush) was part of this generation, stretching the point of the birth year a bit for LBJ (b. 1908).  It speaks positively of this politically consequential generation that seven men born in a sixteen year time frame (1908-1924) were Presidents continuously in a 32-year time frame (1961-1993).

SILENT GENERATION

Birth years:  1928-1945
Ages in 2015:  70-87

Discussion

A generation that is stuck in between two glamour generations, and therefore isn’t much studied or hem-hawed over.  (Though, see below in the comment section, there were/are a lot of well known musicians and authors among them.)  Too, because people of this generation were born during the Depression and WWII, there are significantly fewer of them than either the generation behind them or ahead of them born in better times.  Too young to experience the  worst of the Depression first hand, too young to fight in WWII, save the oldest ones lying to the recruiters.  But they were there for Korea, the latter part of it for Vietnam.  The generation that we sacrificed on the altar of our involvement in two useless East Asian ideological-based land civil wars.  Sorry ’bout that, by the way.

This generation has definitely aged out of power, for the most part.  And it’s starting to experience a high death rate, especially for its men.

There has not been and probably will not be a single President from this generation.  The closest we came was John McCain and John Kerry.  And no, I don’t give Bernie Sanders much of a chance.  Another Presidentially credible member of this generation is Joe Biden.  In retrospect, thank God this generation never amounted to much politically, considering what we had to work with.

BABY BOOMERS

Birth years:  1946-1960
Ages in 2015:  55-69

Discussion

A high birth rate glamour generation, born during generally good economic times, the result of their parents’ post-WWII (orgasmic) exuberance.  Whatever I could say about this generation, you’ve probably already read hundreds of times, or seen celebrated on credit card commercials and mutual funds commercials.  Bar none, the most narcissistic generation of human beings in history.  The first generation in human history never to have any real severe existential crises, no real big problems, no world war that required universal national sacrifice, no mega-depression.  Boomers were and are so bereft of real crises that they had to invent crises just to claim they overcame something in their la dolce vita.  Or, if they couldn’t overcome their self-invented pretend crises, they had to schedule an appointment with their therapists.  So anal are Boomers about pretending to overcome fake hurdles that they pseudo-retconned the history of their own parents.  And, they believe that they were the generation that won the West because they watched a lot of Western movies and TV shows.

They are currently at their peak of power and control over real institutions.  We are indeed living in the Peak Boomer Era.  Forget about Peak Oil, the real problem is Peak Boomer.  Since they are exercising power unchecked, they are creating precisely the world that both their critics and apologists of both older and younger generations predicted they would.  And, at least temporarily, they are unduly influencing yet another glamour generation that is largely their progeny, see below.

Clinton, Bush 43, and (stretching the point) Obama, are all boomers.  Almost all 2016 Presidential candidates are Boomers, and furthermore, there was at least one candidate per Boomer birth year between 1945 and 1959, except for one year.  However, the 45th President will most likely be the final Boomer President.  Should he or she get elected twice, that would mean four people exercising 32 straight years of Presidential control born within a 15-year time span.  Which means they would be a consequential generation at least from a political standpoint.

GENERATION X

Birth years:  1961-1981
Ages in 2015:  34-54

Discussion

The generation of yours truly (b. 1977) and today’s foremost genius, Ta Coates (b. 1975).  A “silent” generation of sorts, (though Ta won’t shut the fuck up about black bodies), stuck between two glamour generations, of somewhat lower birth rate than either that surrounds them, and for that reason, we were originally called Baby Busters, until at about the time I started high school and the Gen X label stuck.  We were latchkey kids, (alluding to yet another alternate name for our lot, Latch Key Generation), the kids of multiple marriage multiple divorce parents, we got first names like Corey and Gina, we were fanatically instructed not to talk to strangers.  Trump’s national campaign manager is first named Corey (Lewandowski, b. 1975), other notable Xers named Corey were/are Haim and Feldman (both b. 1971).  The generation of people that trademarked “whatever” and “as if” as rejoinders, or more accurately, substantive sociopolitical rhetoric.  The generation of niche consumption, craft beer, microbreweries, micro-roast coffee, forty-something video game and comic book junkies, and the best nightclub music that will ever be made.  And, the most cynical generation of human beings in history.

We have accomplished next to nothing politically, yet.  However, we are the generation that is in the on-deck circle in terms of having real control over society.  Hopefully, the Boomers at the plate will start arguing balls and strikes with the umps, and the umps will send the Boomers to the showers early, though they can go by themselves; I’m in no mood to gawk at a bunch of naked sixtysomethings in a big open shower.  I predict that the handoff between Boomers and X will be by far the most drastic and profound and consequential handoff in generational control of any handoff between any generation listed here, way more profound than any previous or future handoff.  See this for my reasoning.

Ours is the last generation of people that has and will have any conscious memory of a pre-Internet world, a pre-ubiquitously connected world, a world where phone calls between cities cost extra and were metered by the minute, and of the Soviet Union as an empire that displayed a threatening posture.  We did incubate the first wave of the Internet era, the first wave of the Dot-Com boom.  Otherwise, we’ll be telling our grandchildren horror stories about what it was like to look up a topic before Wikipedia, and showing them what Web 1.0 era webpages looked like, in much the same sense that mothers take and show bare butt photos of their infants.

Like I wrote above, no Presidents, yet, and the only four serious Gen X candidates this year were the two Cubans (Cruz, Rubio), the Indian (Jindal), and Scott Walker.  Not much to write home about, n’est pas?  Unfortunately, for a lot of reasons, Boomer dominance over serious institutions is even more locked down than any previous generation’s nexus of control, so this (along with our waiting in line for the next great video game or video game system release) has hindered Gen Xers’ ability to position ourselves for serious political power, at least temporarily.  Or, it may be the case that, like the Silents, our influence will be way more cultural than political, and that alternating generations will alternate between being politically consequential and culturally consequential.  I would not be surprised if the final Boomer President is succeeded by the first Millennial President, and there is never a President from my generation.  Like I wrote above, that’s how it was with the Silents.

It will be said and written about many of us, at the time of our deaths, that our bodies were found lifeless and face down in a comic book.

MILLENNIALS

Birth years:  1982-2000
Ages in 2015:  15-33

Discussion

They got this name because they are the first generation of people to come of age after the turn of the millennium.  Other names for this generation are Generation Y, or Echo Boomers.  The latter name comes from the fact that they are largely the progeny of Baby Boomers and are their evolutionary extension, bringing to mind the concept of veterans of the viewership of the first Mickey Mouse Club getting it on in the ’80s pre-Viagra, and of Lee Iacocca designing a whole new class of automobile for ’80s fecund-stage Boomers and their ’80s-born children, the minivan, and, so far, Millennials are acting like their narcissistic parents’ even more narcissistic children, though, as you will read below, not all is lost.  A glamour generation, a relatively high birth rate generation, a generation that will be written about in glowing terms by future mediocre national news personalities not yet born.  The first generation that grew up just about entirely in the Internet era, and they are incubating the second Dot-Com boom era, the Web 2.0 era, or the social media era, the era where the internet changed from an interesting technical problem slash a novelty as it was for Generation X, to a “media and marketing juggernaut,” as someone else put it.

It is a really dangerous game to make forward predictions and inferences about this generation because of the way they are now.  I think Millennials will be the generation that, when all is said and done, will have displayed the biggest Jekyll and Hyde change between their current young years and their middle age years, of all generations listed here.  The reason for that is what I wrote above about my generation.  Remember, if they are “Echo Boomers” today, largely imitating their Boomer parents, once the Boomers hand off to Generation X, and like I wrote above, that transition is going to be drastically profound, Millennials will stop taking their cues from their Boomer parents and teachers and professors and start taking their cues from us.  That will be what drastically changes Millennials.  They will be far more “Echo Xers” in their own middle ages than they are “Echo Boomers” as twenty-somethings today.  To illustrate, I can easily see this convo between myself and a Millennial twenty years from now, I will be 58, and the Millennial will be 38 — Millennial will be like: “Nyah nyah nyah nyah problematic,” and my retort with folded arms and rolling eyes will be like:  “Whatever, as if I care about your fucking problems.”  That will force them to grow up, even if we’re still reading comic books and playing video games.

I also happen to be very impressed with white rightist Millennials; I think they are probably the most politically talented and creative and bullshit-resistant group going.

Likewise, it’s far too early to make any political predictions about Presidents of the Millennial generation.  For the obvious reason that they are all currently under the age of eligibility, (“Eligibility? LMFAO!!!” — Barack O.) and it won’t be until thirty years from now, when they will be 45-63 years old, usually the peak of Presidential credibility, that we’ll know what Millennial Presidential contenders and maybe actual Presidents are like, in terms of both number and quality.

HOMELANDERS

Birth years:  2001-Present
Ages in 2015:  Birth-14

Discussion

Tentatively named Generation Z, demographers are settling on the name Homelanders for this the generation of current children ranging to going-on high school students, because almost if not totally 100% of their lives have happened since 9/11.  Because every generation deserves to be named with the inference of tall buildings that are no longer standing in their lifetimes; it’s just that this one had the foresight to wait to be born until after a tall building fell down.  They’re way too young to make any qualitative value assessments about them, C.J. Pearson notwithstanding, but we do know that for them, the Internet is ubiquitous, social media is ubiquitous, almost universal connectivity is ubiquitous, devices are ubiquitous, condoms are ubiquitous, and the surveillance society is ubiquitous.  If the pattern holds, Homelanders will be a non-glamour generation, culturally important but politically weak, like Silent and X, stuck between glamour generations, the Millennials, and whatever follows them.  Just like Intel has (or had) a tick-tock cycle for CPUs, generations seems to have tick-tock cycles, generations are a glamour “tick” and then a silent “tock.”

Homelanders will Tumblr the shit out of the internet.

POSTSCRIPT

Some demographers think that the latest part of the Boomers and the earliest part of Generation X are more like each other than they are to their own generations, and classify them separately as Generation Jones, born 1957-1965, meaning they are 50-58 years old this year, basically all the fiftysomethings.  That would include Barack Obama.

There is also a propensity to think that the latter part of Generation X, those born during the Jimmy Carter Presidency, which would include yours truly, ages 34-38 this year, exhibit a split X-Millennial personality, and as accidents of the years of our births and of of the current times, we have lived half of our lives in the old world, the pre-internet world, and half in the new school, the internet world, and that we’re unique in that we are just as adept at the old school and the new school way of doing things, because we’ve had enough experience in both. Such names for this sub-generation are Xennials, or Generation Catalano (after the male protagonist on one of the most underrated TV dramas ever, whose one and only season was my senior year of high school, that being My So-Called Life), and the Oregon Trail Generation, after the primitive video game that I could only ever beat by playing something other than the farmer, even though the farmer got you the most points.


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24 responses

20 11 2015
Better Late | Countenance Blog

[…] few weeks ago, when I was thinking a lot about generational divides, I happened to write this clever and semi-snarky post.  For some odd reason, when I published it, I didn’t realize I set the post to […]

20 11 2015
JRM

Very interesting analysis. As a “boomer” born in 1958, I was interested to see the “Generation Jones” category-never heard of it. But I can tell you that in my experience there was quite a gulf between the older boomers who were the hippies and “Woodstock” era (overused landmark event, I know) very druggy, and “protest”-“spiritual journey”-types, and kids my age who were too young to be on the forefront of the sex, drugs and rock-and-roll era, and instead came of age in the disillusioned and somewhat schlocky ‘Seventies. So I would endorse the break-out of the ’57-on boomers. We NEVER had the glamour or the books and movies made about us high that our immediate predecessors did.

20 11 2015
Hard Right

I’d heard of it, but I couldn’t remember what they called it. I always thought of us as the In-Betweeners. Generation Jones sounds pretty lame.

20 11 2015
countenance

Look on the bright side. Better that than Generation Jaquarious.

20 11 2015
Hard Right

Whatever they call us, I think we got the worst of it. We were told one thing when we were growing up, but most of our lives ended up completely different.

It’s no wonder that we’re dying prematurely.

20 11 2015
osprey1

Yes, I was born in 1960…I was only a child during the “Summer of Love” so I really resent being lumped in with those people. They cast a long shadow over us,many of my classmates in high school in the 1970’s had older brothers or sisters whose hippie lifestyle was deified but my age cohort had nothing to do with creating it. We either followed along with it or rebelled against it during the Reagan years or post 9-11.

20 11 2015
Hard Right

latest part of the Boomers and the earliest part of Generation X are more like each other than they are to their own generations

Just call us the Dying Prematurely Generation.

20 11 2015
Joshua Sinistar

The Boomers are ironically named because they blew America up. It’ll never be what it was, and when Generation Ten otherwise called Gen X (roman numeral ten) takes it over from their arthritic bony fingers it will be nothing at all like the Boomers wanted. Having experienced diversity and seen it up close, Gen X has no illusions of equality and fairness is for suckers when you’ve been discriminated against your whole life by people saying discrimination is soooo wrong, except if you’re White. Far right is not far enough. This pendulum went all the way left and now its just gone full circle to far right.

20 11 2015
countenance

Remember, I wrote why the transition from Boomer to X will be drastic:

https://countenance.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/microbrewery-politics-and-ideology/

20 11 2015
Hard Right

Not going to happen.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/20/40-of-millennials-ok-with-limiting-speech-offensive-to-minorities/

These kids are going to make the elder boomers look like hardcore reactionaries.

20 11 2015
countenance

AR ran that story tonight. If you ask me, considering who is indoctrinating Millennials, it’s a miracle that ONLY 40% of them want this. I don’t write anything into this.

20 11 2015
Hard Right

These kids need “safe spaces” on the Internet for cryin’ out loud.

20 11 2015
David In TN

As I’ve indicated, I’m one of the Boomers, born 1950. We were the first generation with TV in our homes. I remember when it was a big thing to watch a ball game on TV.

You’re dead-on in the review of Revolutionary Road. A man born in 1925 was glad he was still alive had he “been overseas” during WW II. He’d already had “something more.”

Both men and women were glad for the relative material prosperity they had in the 1950’s. It was quite a bit better than what their own parents had.

20 11 2015
JRM

“Whatever they call us, I think we got the worst of it. We were told one thing when we were growing up, but most of our lives ended up completely different.”

So true; you said it in a nutshell.

On the plus side, we got to see a bit of the real old Norman Rockwell America that really did exist in the past; we were I guess the last generation to play outside all day as kids and no one was worried or panicking. I remember summers when I would get up and get on my bike, spend all day with friends, and come home at dark with nary a care in the world.

And past puberty, we also got to date in a much less constricted, self-conscious way, back when girls were still happy to be girls and we were happy they were too. So we have our consolations. I wouldn’t trade places with the later generations if I could.

20 11 2015
Hard Right

You’re right of course. It’s just hard for me not to angry about what they’ve done to our country. We really were the greatest nation in history. Now we’re a third-world shithole.

20 11 2015
JRM

I hear you brother. I really feel sorry for the young kids coming up in this topsy-turvy social media-soaked world; especially the shit the White kids have to take daily because of the institutional dominance of “minorities”. And with someone in the White House who is impossible to respect.

20 11 2015
20 11 2015
Marc Bahn

Boomer here (1956).

Very interesting reading. I’m reminded of what my very materialistic mother (1927) used to say: “Both quality and common sense ran out the door in 1960.”

She’s at death’s door as I type, and while my strongest love was for my father, her pitiful disintegration is heartbreaking.

I used to give them both hell for the treacheries they thought patriotic, and yet my Millennial sons don’t get the point.

Point being that generational trends can be valid but still contain a helluva lot of variation.

Keep up this blog, fella. You’re good.

20 11 2015
Pioneer Preppy

Great Post!!! The Generation Jones thing only holds true with White Men I have found. The last few years of the Boomers and all of GenX Men were the first one’s to actually pay the price of our Fathers sacrificing us and our prospects on the altar of Feminism and the Multi-Cult so in that respect we are a lot alike while the special ones are more like the rest of the Boomers. So Obummer is nothing like the White Male counterparts of those years nor are the ones who had the special privilege.

I work with a bunch of old White Men and they spell it out quite clearly. Each of them would still run out and throw their coats on the ground for any Woman to walk across a puddle. They looked at me and said “He would just say the bitch is gonna get wet”. It’s true they lived in a bubble and forced us who came after to pay the bill.

21 11 2015
Steve Sailer

Makes sense to break out Late Boomers as distinctive from early Boomers like Bill Clinton and GWB who sailed through life being boosted along by the high demand for and low supply of people their age.

It would also be interesting to reassess the term “Silent Generation” in terms of the number of rock stars and novelists born 1930-1945. About a decade ago, somebody made up a list of the most famous then living novelists, and a huge fraction were born in 1931-1932. Similarly, famous rock stars tended to be born in 1940-45. Why? Baby Boomer supply and demand.

21 11 2015
Joshua Sinistar

America cannot survive this way. Like Ben Franklin said you had a republic if you can keep it. The Boomers went yippie and gave the store away for BS about how unfair these black savages that do nothing but scream about wacism while attacking and abusing anyone who isn’t black. The Constitution was written for White people, and any others will not defend or even understand the concept of freedoms and rights therein coming from the serf and slave status they do from their pestilent Turd World Homeland. They are used to slavery and no one in the Government listening to them and that’s why they’re bringing them here, to vote for serfdom to the Oligarchs who create an impossible gulf between them and a massive slave and servant class. They imagine themselves as Robber Barons or Maharajahs. They make me laugh, Those men were big and strong, they could split your skull in two with one blow and throttle you with their bare hands. They weren’t the misshapen weaklings that these alien goblins are, and I doubt their Orcs will obey them without White men holding them on a leash.

24 12 2015
Christmas Eve Wrap-Up | Countenance Blog

[…] Blogmeister Echo Syndrome.  Twice in this space on the same day I explained why the generational handoff in power between the Baby Boomers and Generation X will be […]

27 01 2016
AndrewR

Generational labels are for people who aren’t good at thinking in nuanced terms. As an elder “millennial”, I have quite a bit more in common with the average young-Xer than with the average young-Millennial, except for some relatively inconsequential things like “has clear memories of the presidency of Bush Sr.” Our culture has been shitlibifying for a long time but this whole safe-space/trigger-warning/microaggressions/tumblr/SJWs/BLM shit is stuff that I didn’t really see coming during my own adolescence circa 2000. The younger millennials have no memories of a time before this.

27 01 2016
countenance

Just as some put older Boomers and early Xers into its own generation, it’s possible that the youngest Xers and the oldest Millennials will have the same thing happen to them. All of this is subject to a lot of future amendment and interpretation.




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