These things are always subject to debate, so this is just a general guide.
Birth years: 1910-1927
Ages in 2015: 88-105
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).
Birth years: 1928-1945
Ages in 2015: 70-87
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.
Birth years: 1946-1960
Ages in 2015: 55-69
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.
Birth years: 1961-1981
Ages in 2015: 34-54
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.
Birth years: 1982-2000
Ages in 2015: 15-33
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.
Birth years: 2001-Present
Ages in 2015: Birth-14
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.
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.