Generational Breakdown

Generations can be confusing. Being a woman in my mid-fifties I had only heard of one generation; the one which I belong to: the ‘Baby Boomers’. However, since I have got two daughters, one in her late twenties and the other in her early thirties, I started to feel curious about which generation they belonged to, since ‘Millennials’ was the only name I could think of.

I am neither a linguistic literate nor a bookworm on this subject, far from it. However, I am quite curious about the reasons why a new word is born. Consequently, I am really interested in the different explanations for the coinage of different words for different generations. I am aware of the fact that different generations have different things in common, from larger generational conversations on topics, to differences, similarities and trends which may include such diverse topics as employment, shopping, music, feelings and much more.

Not only is a generation a group of people who were born around the same time, but that also grew up in the same place. People in this ‘range’ show similar characteristics, preferences and values throughout their lives. ‘Millennials’, for example, are the most consistent generation globally. However, we still see important differences between ‘Millennials’ raised in urban environments and ‘Millennials’ who migrate to rural areas, or those who move to new countries. Although it is important to remember that, at an individual level, everyone is different, generally speaking, the vision passed down through generations provides useful predictability. Let’s say the group follows the drill and shares lot of things.

Currently, there are five generations that make up our society (according to critics the three main trends shaping this concept are: parenting, technology and economics). Perhaps some of them may be totally unknown to you, as happened to me with the so-called ‘Traditionalists’ or ‘Silent Generation’ born in 1945 and before. On the contrary, much is known and much more has been said about ‘Millennials’ or ‘Gen Y’ born between 1977-1995, ‘Generation X’ born between 1965-1976 and, of course, ‘Baby Boomers’ born between 1946-1964. Surprisingly, there is a new one. Have you ever heard of the ‘Linkster Generation’ born after 2002 (and therefore post-millennial), sometimes referred to as ‘Generation Z’? The term ‘Linkster Generation’ was created considering the fact that it is the first generation to be linked into technology from day one.

Above all, what strikes me most is the fact that each generation has a motto. Curiously enough, ‘Millennials’ brought technology into the cultural focus and have driven other generations to use it. However, do not forget that there are ‘Millennials’ who remember how a dial phone worked or even, although currently it seems almost impossible, what life was like before any social media.

Family structure is another aspect of generational concept. The parenting philosophy of the ‘Baby Boomers is, “We want it to be easier for our kids than it was for us.” This reasoning, in turn, helped build and strengthen the sense of empowerment and entitlement of ‘Millennials’. In addition, certain events have shaped and marked the parents of ‘Linksters’ (those kids who could be a hybrid of ‘Baby Boomers’ and ‘Generation X’s’ children) which among others include civil rights, the equal opportunity fight for women and, of course, the sexual revolution.

The ‘X Generation’ usually born between 1965-1980 have also had some major events that outlined and stamped their lives: the availability of the pill, cable TV and both parents working outside the home.

As workers, ‘Linksters’ will, in all likelihood, be the most technologically savvy of any generation in the workforce. They know how to effortlessly navigate apps and smartphones and, undoubtedly, they are quicker to learn and adapt to the latest technological advancements both professionally and personally. In addition, ‘Linksters’ might also be the first generation that may not know what having just one full-time job is like, dramatically different from the ‘Baby Boomers’ who are used to it. ‘Linksters’ with so many flexible work options available might have a blend of part-time jobs, a full-time job along with a side gig or, most likely, a few freelance contracts to make their living.

All in all, just as more than one expert has commented, no criticism should be made about any of the different generations. It is true that some negative undertones have been implied about the upcoming generations, but I wonder, who has nothing to blame or criticize about that generation which is not your own?

‘Millennials’ have been labelled as lazy yet entitled, as well as ‘snowflakes’, the ‘X Generation’ as hardworking, playing hard, being cynical and even self-obsessed or narcissistic and ‘Baby Boomers’ were blamed by ‘Millennials’ for having destroyed the economy.
Once you know all that… which generation do you belong to? Do you agree with experts?

Maria Ignacia Funes Vera
Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Murcia