Generations are a way of grouping people based on the approximate time period in which they were born and the cultural, social, and historical events they experienced during their formative years. The concept of generations helps us all to better understand the experiences and perspectives of different age groups, as well as their impact on society.
The Baby Boomer generation was born between the years 1946 and 1964, during a period of increased birth rates following the end of World War II. This generation is characterized by the cultural and social changes of the time, including the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement, and the counterculture of the 1960s.
Baby Boomers experienced significant economic prosperity and growth, which allowed for an increase in consumerism and their overall standard of living. As they’ve achieved retirement age, Boomers have had a significant impact on the economy and social programs, such as Social Security, and have reshaped the modern healthcare industry.
Bruce Gibney, author of A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America, tells Vox, “The boomers inherited a rich, dynamic country and have gradually bankrupted it. They habitually cut their own taxes and borrow money without any concern for future burdens. They’ve spent virtually all our money and assets on themselves and in the process have left a financial disaster for their children.”
While the Baby Boomers have had a profound impact on society, they are also faced with unique challenges such as longer life expectancies and financial insecurity in later life.
Generation X was born between the early 1960s and the early 1980s. People who belong in Generation X include Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, and Adam Sandler.
The term “Generation X” was popularized by the 1991 book Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, by Douglas Coupland. This generation is often referred to as the “middle child” of generations, falling between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials.
Gen X grew up during a time of significant change and witnessed the rise of personal computing and the Internet, as well as events like the end of the Cold War and the AIDS crisis. They are known for being self-reliant, independent, and having a strong work ethic. Gen X also values work-life balance, making them prioritize their personal lives over their careers. They are more skeptical of institutions and have a more practical and pragmatic approach to life than the idealistic Baby Boomers.
Despite being a smaller generation than the Baby Boomers, Generation X has had a significant impact on the world and continues to shape the workforce and the economy.
Millennials, also known as Generation Y, were born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s.
They’re the first generation to grow up with access to the Internet and digital technology, which has shaped their outlook and values. Millennials are known for being more diverse, socially and politically aware, and having a strong sense of individualism. They prioritize experiences over material possessions and place a strong emphasis on work-life balance.
The misconception about this generation is that they’re galivanting around having soy chai lattes and attending hot yoga. A Google search renders, “Millennials are poor,” “Millennials are so entitled,” and “Millennials are killing the…,” which can diminish their accomplishments.
While they’re often criticized for being entitled, they are also known for being innovative, open-minded, and socially conscious. Millennials have faced significant challenges, including high student debt, job instability, and a rapidly evolving world. From anti-war activism post-911 to the Black Lives Matter movement, Millennials aren’t afraid of being catalysts of change.
Generation Z was born between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s. They are the first cohort to be born fully in the digital age and have grown up with access to all sorts of crazy advanced technology, including ubiquitous smartphones and social media.
As a result of all this digital noise, they are highly connected and have a global perspective on issues. Generation Z values creativity, inclusiveness, and diversity, and is socially conscious and politically aware. They also prioritize their mental and physical health, making wellness a central aspect of their lives.
Pop culture icon and Gen Z-er, Kylie Jenner, posed for Forbes March 2019 issue as the youngest billionaire in history.
The newbies in town are any younger children now or any buns in the oven. They are the children of Millennials and the first generation to be born entirely in the post-millennial world. Generation Alpha is highly connected and technologically savvy, growing up surrounded by digital devices and the Internet.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also radically reshaped how they learn, socialize and interact with the world.
Award-winning social researcher and best-selling author, Mark McCrindle, kicked-off the campaign to call the generation after Gen Z, Generation Alpha. And, he claims 2.5 million Alphas are born around the globe every week. These Alpha kids grow up with iPads and smartphones in hand and know how to work it in their favor.
“In the past, the individual had no power, really,” McCrindle told Business Insider. “Now, the individual has great control of their lives through being able to leverage this world. Technology, in a sense, transformed the expectations of our interactions.”
And, this is how YouTube sensation, Ryan’s World, has garnered so much popularity. The 8-year old’s mother began uploading videos of Ryan Kaji in 2015, and since then, the channel has over 20 million subscribers. According to Forbes, Kaji was the highest-paid YouTuber in 2018 and 2019, racking up between $22 million and $26 million from his videos.
Alphas are expected to be the most educated and globally connected generation to date, with a strong focus on diversity and inclusiveness. They are also likely to be the most environmentally conscious generation, having grown up with the reality of climate change and the need for sustainability.
Generation Alpha is poised to shape the future in some probably unexpected ways, but it is clear that they will continue to drive technological and social progress for decades to come.