Well, like the Czar, you probably call them “generations,” whereas the trendy thing to call them these days is “cohorts.” Although sociologists mock at the idea that people born within certain time-frames share similar, almost predictable values, it’s important to note that more people mock sociologists. While generation gaps are arguable, and some are based on less rationale than others, there are clear differences between people of different ages that range well beyond the physical or psychological: people who grew up together, under different cultural and historical influences, really do view society differently and solve problems in fundamentally different ways.
From time to time, the Czar likes to revisit these differences for you, and put together his observations. Here, in chronological order, are the Czar’s summaries of America’s generational
The Czar understands some groups prefer certain clusterings of birth years; uh-uh: the Czar knows better, and has adjusted some dates below. Additionally, the Czar has identified key splinter groups within some cohorts worth acknowledging.
The Lost Generation
Birth years: 1890 – 1901. The term was coined by Gertrude Stein and popularized by Ernest Hemingway to describe the strange disconnect America’s youth felt during and after World War I.
- Grew up under Republican prosperity
- Values limited government and individual liberty
- During the Depression, appreciated the value of food and money
- Recognized the horrors of war.
Good news for this generation: Turned out not to be lost, but quite adaptable and capable; saw fantastic transition from agrarian to urbanization and was the first to recognize the value of women and minorities.
Bad news for this generation: You’re pretty much dead already or about to go. It’s been nice knowing you.
“Where were you when” moment: Armistice, 1918.
The Greatest Generation
- Worshiped FDR and the New Deal
- Volunteered and mobilized to fight fascism, to an indescribable degree
- Could fix or repair just about anything; ask someone from this generation if you doubt it.
Good news for this generation: Beat Hitler.
Bad news for this generation: Terror of growing up in the Depression and fighting fascism made them spoil their kids to the nth degree, creating the Boomers.
“Where were you when” moment: December 7, 1941
The Silent Generation
Birth years: 1925 – 1946. The term originated in Time magazine, noting how they avoided drawing too much attention to themselves; this generation wanted peace and quiet. They didn’t get it.
- The Beat Generation
- The Eisenhowers
The Beat Generation
- Grew up during World War II and just when they thought the bad times were over, got drafted into the Korean War
- Among the earliest counter-cultures; often skeptical if not disrespectful toward authority. You think M*A*S*H was wholly invented to parody the Vietnam War? No way: there was a fair amount of truth to the erosion of discipline during the Korean War.
- Grew up in small families often run by a single mother due to dads fighting WWII.
- Began to question the use of racial discrimination
- Resented traditional norms: two parents with a non-working mom, classics, fine art. They wanted to do their own thing, baby.
Good news for this generation: Expected their kids to be tougher than they were; don’t mistake their pseudo-liberalism for weakness: most of this generation suffered during their early years and expected the kids to man up the same way.
Bad news for this generation: Ensured we’d have really bad poetry for a long, long time.
“Where were you when” moment: Sputnik.
Good news for this generation: Conservative and self-sufficient, this generation got America safely through the Cold War until its end.
Bad news for this generation: Probably the last generation who would be educated in traditional ethics and civics.
“Where were you when” moment: The Cuban Missile Crisis
The Baby Boomers
Birth years: 1946 – 1963, although these numbers vary as various authors try to exclude themselves from this group by adjusting the dates. Named after the sudden explosion in births as Americans came home at the end of the war and rebuilt families.
- The Hippies
- The Post-Boomers
Birth years: 1946 – 1955, although the term “hippies” describes more of a culture than an actual belief. Lots of people born in these years weren’t hippies, although that doesn’t guarantee they were likable.
- Self-centered, obnoxious, and fixated on their own worldviews, this was the first group acutely aware that it was its own generation; as a result, it defined itself internally by what it wanted, rather than let itself be define by external demands
- Nakedly leftist and even dangerous
- Under-educated by their own insistence at softening education, they were easily manipulated by smarter forces.
- Responsible for love-ins, widespread drug abuse, easy divorce, lousy sex, disco, all of the 1970s, horrific design and style (earth tones, bell bottoms, sideburns, pop art, psychedelic fonts, yuppies, tree hugging, New Age crystal healing, junk bonds, four or five recessions, new math, Andrew Lloyd Weber, the collapse of Black America, Common Core, the Clintons, and everything that’s retro now that was just as bad when it was new.
- Explosive growth in government
Good news for this generation: They generally can be credited with some seriously kick-ass music. Really, even if you hate Pink Floyd, the Beatles, or Prog Rock, that was some pretty cool stuff.
Bad news for this generation: They’re still peddling their egocentric fantasy that they were right about everything, and today’s kids don’t realize how disastrous nana and papa’s philosophies are.
“Where were you when” moment: The Kennedy Assassination, before which and after which nothing else seems to have mattered.
- Strong libertarian streak; most dyed-in-the-wool libertarians (“wing nuts”) are from this era.
- Early adoption of Reaganism and its outpouring of optimism.
- Strong sense of entrepreneurialism, especially toward technology and expanding small business by understanding value of quality and customer service (having survived the 1970’s collapse in both).
Good news for this generation: After howling for decades about libertarianism, they’re finally getting some respect and attention.
Bad news for this generation: They generally don’t vote in large enough numbers to make a difference, writing off everything good as the enemy of the perfect.
“Where were you when” moment: Nixon’s resignation.
Birth years: 1964 – 1982, or possibly 1985. It depends on your view of a sub-group that followed it. This generation was often called the Latchkey generation until Douglas Coupland reintroduced the phrase Gen X in his 1991 novel (the term did not originate with him, but was in use as early as 1965).
- Cynical, sarcastic, and skeptical of most traditional institutions
- Considerably self-educated, given that they learned to detect bullshit at an early age
- Generally conservative and libertarian leaning; some of its liberal members are obnoxiously shallow
- Transitioned the world onto the Internet
- Struggling to maintain a belief in faith and religion
- Able to process and sift through an incredible amount of simultaneous information; although they do not multitask as well as later generations, the Gen Xers are quick to identify and reject trends as non-productive.
- Small population has neutered much of its political effectiveness
Good news for this generation: as Boomers die, retire, and lose interest in politics, their voting influence is growing.
Bad news for this generation: They are out-numbered by Millennials, who now have enough members entering voting age to counteract all gains made by Gen Xers.
“Where were you when” moment: The Challenger explosion. If this seems odd, ask any Gen Xers where they were during the explosion, and you’ll get an answer, even if they were toddlers at the time.
Birth years: Okay, maybe 1981 – 1988. The Czar came up with the term, although much of this group prefers to call themselves, with characteristic lack of ingenuity, as Generation Y. Pffft.
- Fascination with pop culture and Top 10 lists.
- Skateboards and marijuana.
- They emerged as skaters and Goths, until the term Emo became vogue. They now write vampire books for teenagers because, like the Boomers, they are self-absorbed with their own pop culture. It’s probably important to point out that the Boomers actually had a sense of culture. The Emos just hated everything, buddy. They couldn’t even cough up a decent punk culture like the post-boomers did.
- Not terribly interested in work, many of them went to work at Blockbuster video until their dead weight collapsed that titan, too.
- They don’t vote. They generally have little understanding of conservatism or liberalism.
- Thanks for pushing tattoos and piercings on all the kids. Really helped. Thanks.
Good news for this generation: They’re now at an age where they’re starting to recognize they need to take life seriously. Or else, they’ve starved to death being the 35-year-old cashier at Taco Bell full of ink and stubble.
Bad news for this generation: Know who cares less than you? Life. Life cares less than you. Time to wake up, dudes.
“Where were you when” moment: Y2K.
- Fairly naive compared to previous generations about manners, work ethics, dress, politics, family life, and retirement
- Grew up with low self-esteem and constant need to be rewarded or acknowledged
- Reliance on social media, although this is probably an offshoot of their need to be acknowledged
- Multitask to an amazing degree, and while they have trouble adhering to a 9-to-5 schedule, actually are more inclined to work 24 hours a day if you approach them through texts and email
- Often under-educated through a variety of pedagogical experimentation and lax testing of applied knowledge; Millennials often feel they can just “look it up on Google.”
- Although the first wave is stultifyingly liberal and often to a fascistic degree, when asked about government takeover of their favorite web-based businesses, show a strong anti-government streak
- May be showing early signs of a libertarian attitude: starting to reject the Democrat party in larger numbers, voted for Trump in surprisingly high numbers, all for legalization of many goods and services; unfortunately, may also skew toward nationalistic without understanding crucial differences
- Materialistic, particular about clothing and technology and high-rent apartments
Good news for this generation: There is substantial reason for optimism: they are starting to get their act together—Millennials are starting to save money for homes, are beginning to embrace marriage, and are now even saving for retirement (something they historically avoided)
Bad news for this generation: This generation is often gullible and lockstep. The longer they are out of the collegiate leftist education camps, the more they reject their upbringing and struggle to develop individual responsibility and political thought.
“Where were you when” moment: September 11, 2001.
Birth years: 2001 – to the present. The term Generation Z was an obvious continuation of the X and Y pattern; there’s a pair of movements afoot to name this generation either Founders (the term was coined by MTV, although its meaning seems vaguely to refer to this generation founding a new society after the mess they perceive being made by the Millennials) or Homelanders (named after the Department of Homeland Security, which is about as probable as Gen Xers being called HUDders). Neither of those will probably stick, and if you look at the history of naming generations, the actual name will come later—and was probably proposed in 2002 or 2003…we just haven’t circulated it enough yet for it to stick.
- Completely integrated into digital technology: they will transcend both the internet and social media by staying in close contact through social networks hundreds or thousands strong via texting and other instant communication methods
- Consumer-oriented; although some analysts believe they are prone to spend money, the Czar anticipates they only do so after extensive consideration of value versus costs. Today’s kids seem to be able to evaluate product features carefully, even for relatively trivial items.
- Likely going to be quite conservative; however, have little concept of religious faith or its value to a stable society
- Educated, and will reject (or bypass) Common Core for more active learning. Curious and able to connect disparate information together quickly and likely to double-check statements with a variety of sources.
- Will likely see a collapse of higher education; this generation will likely benefit from a subsequent reformation of academia or will reject college for trade schools and internet-based learning.
- Because of their diverse backgrounds, this generation is more likely to value teamwork, cooperation, and assimilation more than modern diversity, largely because they do not observe significant functional differences between individuals (having been hammered to ignore aspects such as race, orientation, religion, disability, or economic background).
Good news for this generation: Has never known a really shitty superhero movie.
Bad news for this generation: Will likely be stuck with ultimate consequences of crushing government debts and costs of tolerating Boomers when the latter were alive.
“Where were you when” moment: This has not yet occurred for them, but will likely occur in the next five-to-seven years.