Have you ever wondered how your generation got its name, and who is part of which generation? --Polly van de water, 6th grade
Have you ever wondered how your generation got its name, and who is part of which generation? According to an article called Which Generation am I, generations are made up of all the people born in about a 20-30 year period. This is about how long it takes each generation to be born, grow up, and start producing the next generation. Social scientists estimate the years that each generation covers, but there is no exact measurement of each generation.
How the generations get their names is a bit different for each generation. To learn more, I interviewed people from each generation. I also wanted to know if they felt their name fit their generation. Michael Stevens, who is 73, says “My generation is the Boomers. We got our name because we were born after World War II ended, when millions of men who had been at war all came home at once, got married and got busy raising families - the Baby Boom! I think it is a sensible name - the Baby Boom was real and there are a lot of us. There were so many young families after the war that it was necessary to build lots of new houses and schools, and because cars were more common, these houses and schools could be built farther from cities, so we sort of caused the suburbs and urban sprawl.”
The Boomers are a very large generation because, as Stevens said, everyone coming home from war wanted to start a family. This generation spans from 1946 to 1964.
Vanessa Gillis, who is 41 and a member of Gen X explained the name this way, “I believe the name is from a book by Douglas Coupland and describes a group of people thought to have similar education and morals. Since the stereotype of Gen X is that X'ers are more cynical and apathetic, I think that ‘X’ is a good letter for that, since it generally is short for ‘not,’ in this case maybe ‘not caring about much.’
Gen X got their name because they were a generation that was somewhat left behind because after the baby boom there were so many kids that for the period of Gen X there were not very many babies. This generation lasted from 1965 to 1980.
Zoe Siegel, who is 31 and a Millennial shared this on their generational name. “I think the millennial generation got its name because we grew up at the turn of the century/millenia. I was about 12 during Y2K (is that in history books yet?!) and I think the reasoning makes sense. I don't remember when people started using the term millennials, but I think it was when I was a teenager or an adult. I don't remember knowing the name of our generation when I was growing up. I like my generation's name. At least we got a name not a letter (no offense to Gen Z or Gen X)” This generation spans from 1981 to 1996.
Nico Daddio, who is 14 and Gen Z said, “I don’t actually know how the generation got its name, but I think it is because Z came next in the alphabet. I don’t think the name is necessarily bad, it is just basic or bland.”
Just like Nico said Gen Z is named Gen Z because they come next in the alphabet after Gen Y (more commonly known as millennials) and Gen X. This generation lasted 1997-2012.
Apart from the names, generations also have stereotypes that go along with them. I asked what stereotypes were most common from each generation and if they seemed accurate. I also asked what their thoughts were on other generations.
Stevens, the Boomer, thought the stereotypes were pretty accurate. “People think that Boomers had it really good and didn't really earn their good fortune. Our parents lived through the Depression and World War II. We lived in a time of great prosperity and plenty of jobs. Our children (and grandchildren) had or will have a tougher time of it. I think the idea that Boomers take their good fortune for granted is kinda true.”
“One thing about the Boomers is that we think we are the most important and so we don't think too much about the generations after us,” Stevens continued. “We like to think that since things were so easy for us we did something to deserve it, so if it's harder for other generations we think it's their fault, when we even think about it. I'm not really sure what Gen X, Y, or Z even is!
Vanessa, in the Gen X interview also felt she could relate to her generation’s stereotype. “I would say I can be very cynical but maybe the other stereotype of X'ers being more independent would apply to me a little better than apathetic. I think it's an interesting name and it was an interesting time to grow up,” Vanessa said.
About the other generations, she thought they were somewhat accurate as well, “Boomers are known to be more uptight but also more organized as far as I know. Millennials are thought to be less able to cope with stress and a little entitled as a stereotype, although this makes them more likely to try to advocate for their own interests which I find interesting.”
Zoe Siegel agreed that Millennials are known for being entitled but didn’t think that was totally accurate, since she also agreed that they have it harder than their parent’s generation. “I think we are supposedly very selfish, we think the world revolves around us. As compared to my parents' generation (the baby boomers) we had to work a lot harder because there is more competition in schools, jobs, housing etc so I don't think the stereotype is right. But I do like skinny jeans, side parts and use the laugh cry emoji, so those stereotypes are accurate,” Siegal said,
She also was impressed by the generation coming after her. “I am very inspired by Gen Z. They seem to care so much more about the world, the environment and each other. Plus I learn so much from them on Tiktok.”
“I think we have the stereotype of always being on screens,” said Daddio, the Gen Zer. “I also think we have the stereotype of being a very aware and activist generation. We do a lot of protesting through social media and real life, we can get the word out and educate each other easier because we have better connections through the internet.”
Regarding other generations, Daddio said, “I think that Gen X has been pretty good parents, millennials are weird because they feel like they are entitled, as their parents did everything for them. For the generation that comes after us, Gen Alpha, they are growing up with bad TV, at least much worse Disney shows than we had. It seems like every generation gets worse Disney.”
Gen Alpha, the next generation after us is also known as iPad kids, as they are growing up with a bunch of technology. Some kids born in the pandemic have spent their first year thinking they were the only kids in the world.