It was just revealed that as we make our way into 2020, a new generation is being thrown into the mix: Generation Alpha. These newbies in town were born just after Generation Z, but who are they?
With all the generations — from baby boomers to millennials, and now, Generation Alpha — it can get a bit confusing. Here’s a breakdown, in case you’re asking yourself, “What generation am I?”
Baby Boomers: 1946 – 1964
If you’re born between 1946 and 1964, consider yourself a boomer.
The “baby boomer” title was no mistake. It comes from a dramatic increase in the number of children born in the 20th century. People living in post-war suburbia and resurfacing from the Great Depression saw a booming society, in both children and the economy.
However, not everything is as booming as it appears. 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.”
Gibney seems pretty sure about the kind of boomers he’s talking about. He told Vox, “But it’s really the white middle-class boomers who exemplify all the awful characteristics and behaviors that have defined this generation.”
Additionally, Gibney claims it’s not just our economy that they’ve damaged, but our environment. The effects of climate change are evident in their generation and Gibney said they’ve done nothing to help resolve it.
We can’t say all boomers are wreaking havoc. U2 lead-vocalist and baby boomer, Bono, does philanthropic work that is changing the world. He’s received recognition for his humanitarian efforts and his activism for causes such as the AIDS pandemic in Africa and Third World debt relief.
And, if you’ve ever watched The Ellen DeGeneres Show, you’ll know she’s making the world a better place all while boasting her boomer-status.
Gen X: 1965 – 1980
The term “Generation X” was popularized by the 1991 book Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, by Douglas Coupland. But, the name made several rounds before it was given to this particular generation. In fact, Billy Idol’s mother, Joan Broad, had something to do with the naming of the popular 1970’s band, Generation X.
The band that began Billy Idol’s career was inspired by Jane Deverson and Charles Hamblett’s book, Generation X. Broad bought a copy of the book at a garage sale and gave it to Idol, who fell in love with the name.
According to his memoir, Dancing with Myself, “We immediately thought it could be a great name for this new band, since we both felt part of a youth movement bereft of a future, that we were completely misunderstood by and detached from the present social and cultural spectrum. We also felt the name projected the many possibilities that came with presenting our generation’s feelings and thoughts.”
People who belong in Generation X include Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, and Adam Sandler. While they’re famous, they’re also making the world a better place with other talents.
Jolie is involved in a variety of humanitarian causes such as child immigration and education, and women’s rights. She pushed for legislation to aid child immigrants and other children in several countries, including the “Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act of 2005.” Jolie has fronted a campaign against sexual violence in military conflict zones by the UK government, and in May 2012, she launched the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) with Foreign Secretary William Hague.
Millennials (Gen Y): 1981 – 1996
The misconception about this generation is that they’re galavanting 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 some of those things may be true — for some Millennials — that’s not the whole story.
Anne Helen Petersen, senior culture writer at Buzzfeed and author of a viral article about Millennial burnout, highlights what people don’t see about the generation. “We are grown-a** adults. We are parents, we are coming into adulthood, and we have worked so hard all of our lives to get where we are,” she told Good House Keeping.
The Millennial generation has transformed the retail industry, created start-ups by being social media savvy, and produced an age of activism. They are also paving the way for other generations. From anti-war activism post-911 to the Black Lives Matter movement, Millennials aren’t afraid of being catalysts of change.
Gen Z: 1997 – 2010
Inspired by the former generation, Gen Z is taking a stance on things that matter and making themselves billionaires in the process. This generation is defined by their tech-savvy characteristics fueled by the digital age they were born in. While the first part of the generation may have experienced the grueling-relationship with their flip-phones, by the time they were in their pre-teens, the iPhone was released. And, with that came an era of social media users.
They’ve definitely used this to their advantage. Gen Z expresses their thoughts on social movements and politics, along with what’s raving in pop culture via hashtags. Gen Z is known for being environmentally conscious and woke. Wanting to be more involved in politics, they have Greta Thunberg and Emma Gonzalez, asking for changes in legislation and going straight to President Trump to ask for it.
While some in this generation have a foothold in the government, others take an entrepreneurial stance.
Pop culture icon and Gen Z-er, Kylie Jenner, posed for Forbes March 2019 issue as the youngest billionaire in history. Jenner, 21, had a steady rise to fame, being Kim Kardashian’s little sister and starring in the reality TV show Keeping Up With The Kardashians definitely helped. But, Jenners asserts these weren’t the money-makers for her; she says she’s “self-made.”
Following in her older sister’s footsteps, Jenner wanted to be a business-woman but desired to pursue something in her interests. Since beauty runs in the family, she opted for a cosmetics line, whose estimated worth is valued at $900 million.
Gen Alpha: 2011 – 2025
The newbies in town are any children now or any buns in the oven.
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.
This generation is definitely using technology to their advantage.
What Generation Am I? — Sources
Move Over Gen Z, Generation Alpha is the One to Watch
What’s The Deal With Generation Alpha?
How Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials Got Their Names
Meet Generation Alpha
Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z Explained
WHAT GENERATION DO YOU BELONG TO? MILLENNIAL, GENERATION X OR Z
How the baby boomers — not millennials — screwed America
Let’s Break Down Who Really Qualifies as a Millennial
The Highest-Paid YouTube Stars of 2019: The Kids Are Killing It
How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation