Generation Upon Generation…

My era had two known generations (at least known to me): the older generation and the younger generation.  I don’t know when or how it happened, but I am now aware of a seeming multitude of generations, each with its own name.

Dr. Jill Novak (University of Phoenix, Texas A&M University) has helped me get my head wrapped around these living generations.  She tells me there are six living generations, each with different likes and dislikes and attributes (paraphrased from her website):

The GI Generation: born between 1901 and 1926, children of the WWI generation & fighters in WWII, young in the Great Depression and all strong models in teamwork to overcome and progress in their lives.

The Mature/Silents: born between 1927 and 1945, had childhoods during an era of suffocating conformity and also of postwar happiness; Peace! Jobs! Suburbs! Television! Rock ‘n Roll! Cars! Playboy Magazine!  This is the Korean and Vietnam War generation.  Women generally stayed home to raise children, and, if they worked, they were likely to hold jobs as teachers, nurses or secretaries.  Marriage is for life.  Richest and most free-spending retirees in history.  These are avid readers, especially of newspapers.  This is the Big Band/Swing music generation.

The Baby Boomers: born between 1946 and 1964.  This generation has two sub-sets: the save-the-world revolutionaries of the 60’s and 70’s, and the party-hardy career climbers (Yuppies) of the ’70s/’80s.  These are self-righteous and self-centered members of society.  This is the first TV generation, the first divorce generation, it began to accept homosexuals, was optimistic, driven and team-oriented.  These folks tend to be more positive about authority, hierarchical structure and tradition.

Generation X: born between 1965 and 1980.  These were the latch-key kids who grew up street-smart but isolated.  They are very individualistic, government and big business mean little to them, they want to save the neighborhood but not the world, they feel misunderstood by other generations, are cynical of many major institutions, don’t feel like a ‘generation’ but they are, were raised in the transition of written based knowledge to digital knowledge; most remember school without computers.  This generation averages 7 career changes in their lifetime.

Generation Y/Millenials: born between 1981 and 2000.  Also known as “The 9/11 generation”, “Echo Boomers”, and America’s next great generation.  They were nurtured by omnipresent parents, optimistic and focused, and they respect authority.  They have falling crime rates, falling teen pregnancy rates, but also have school safety problems (they have to live with the thought that they could be shot at school and they learned early that the world was not a safe place).  They schedule everything, feel enormous academic pressure and have great expectations for themselves.  They prefer to work in teams, get all their information and most of their socialization from the Internet, and have been told over and over again that they are special so they expect to be treated that way.  They do not ‘live to work’, prefer a more relaxed work environment with a lot of hand holding and accolades.

Generation Z/Boomlets: Born after 2001.  In 2006 there were a record number of births in the US and 49% of those born were Hispanic; this will change the ‘melting pot’ in terms of behavior and culture.  Since the early 1700s the most common last name in the US was ‘Smith’ but now it is ‘Rodriguez’.  There are two age groups, ‘Tweens’ age 8-12 years old and ‘Toddler/Elementary’ school age.  4 million have their own cell phones.  14% have a DVD player.  They have Eco-fatigue meaning they are tired of hearing about the environment and the many ways we have to save it.  Children leave toys behind at younger and younger ages with the advent of computers and web-based learning.  This is called the KGOY phenomenon for “kids growing older younger”.  They are savvy consumers, they know what they want and how to get it, and they are over-saturated with brands.

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Thank you, Dr. Novak!  What began as a light-hearted excursion through the generations turned into a most informative tour.



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