E. Delaney

E. Delaney

Emma Delaney, News Writer

As most of us know, Tuesday of Renaissance Week is decades day, meaning everyone participates in dressing up in the fashion that people did in a certain decades in history. Walking through school, you may see people that appear as if they stepped out of the 1970’s, the 1920’s, the 1950’s, the 1800’s, and more. Many of these decades were illustrative of a particular generation of people. A generation is a group of people of similar age, often no more than ten years apart, who experience the same time and typically have generally overwhelming characteristics.       

Throughout the twentieth century, there have been around five to six known generations to have occurred. As generations are a cultural concept, there is disagreement about the exact years they began and ended, but the generations themselves have remained engraved into the memories of Americans and passed down to us through historical records made by those who experienced them. Each generation was unique and were markers for the changing of the times and evolution of culture to remind us how America has grown throughout the years.

The first generation I will mention, the inhabitants of the “Depression Era,” were born in years around 1912 through 1921. These people lived through the time of the Great Depression, and unimaginably, gained unique traits because of it. Going through this tough economic period shaped them into hard-working, conservative, compulsive savers. They tended to value hard labor, usefulness to society, and financial security. Currently, they are around ages eighty-three to ninety-two; they have a current population of around eleven million, and are declining rapidly.

The second is the Silent Generation, born from the 1925 to 1942, called by this mysterious name on account of the fact that we don’t know much about them. They were 78% caucasian, 8% black and Hispanic, and 4% Asian. 85% of the Silent Generation identified as Christian, while approximately 11% were atheist/agnostic. The vast majority, 64% of them, were married young — between ages eighteen and thirty-three, and 94% were married by the year 2014. It is hard to find any other information about their traits and character, but we do know that the national annual GDP rose from just $1.862 trillion in 1942 to a whopping $3.260 trillion by 1960, when all of them were at least eighteen and very likely in the workforce. Just six years later, it spiralled into the $4 trillion dollar range, a feat rarely rivalled.

The Baby Boomers were originally an enormous generation, so they were split into two parts: Boomers I and II. The larger and vastly more famous part was the second half, born between the years 1955 through 1965. Economic struggles, though not nearly as severe as the Depression, came from oil embargoes the U.S. was undergoing, giving them that self-focused mentality that helped them to survive. While the first half were growing up during the Civil Rights Movement, the second witnessed a dark part of history with the incline of AIDS. 49% of the Baby Boomers II favored legalization of marijuana by the 1970’s, which was a drastic rise from the Silent Generation which only had 15% approval at that time. The first Baby Boomers were optimistic, trusting, and had very much recovered from the Great Depression. The Baby Boomers II, however, were a different story. Their wide-eyed innocence was nearly erased, and they became highly skeptical and untrusting of government, with a more self-supporting worldview than any before them. In the minds of many, they were the millennials of their time.

Those born in the 1960’s through 70’s were Generation X, the “edgiest” Americans yet. While the Baby Boomers were the first generation of hippies, Generation X was the first generation of “latchkey kids.” Their Boomer parents, as previously mentioned, were careless and self-centered, and the rate of broken homes, divorces, and neglect rose greatly. Generation X was the result of this type of parenting: rebels with this “what’s in it for me” mindset. Many of them had to survive and succeed on their own and without much reliable direction and support from their parents, forcing them to be self-sufficient and giving them a cynical view of the world. Whereas the Baby Boomers’ self-focused attitude generally came from simple rebelliousness, their children’s came often from necessity. Currently, there are about forty million living. They are 61% white, 21% black, and 13% Asian. This generation had the lowest voter turnout of all, however, and they were also the most educated of those preceding them with 29% obtaining a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Generation X learned many of life’s lessons firsthand, and when they raised families of their own, were much more pragmatic and prudent about it; their priority was stability and healthy family structure.

Then we have Generation Y, or as they are more infamously known, Millennials. There are currently around seventy million alive, the largest amount since the Baby Boomers, and they are extremely similar to them, as most were raised by them. They are far more racially and ethnically diverse than their previous counterparts, being 51% white, 21% Hispanic, 13% black, and 6% Asian. Those married between the ages of eighteen and thirty-three have drastically dropped from older ones such as the Silent Generation with a staggering percentage of only 28%. 55% profess to be Christian, 35% atheist/agnostic, and 8% are a part of other religious groups – another decline from the rest. Millennials, growing up in a fast, thriving, and increasingly convenient America are typically self-centered and seek immediate gratification. 58% more college students taking a narcissism test in 2009 scored higher than those in 1982. Millennials were raised in very peaceful times until the September 11 attacks, when their naivety was blackened. They were the first to be raised in the world of technology, growing up around advertising, internet, and everything that goes with it. They are also very fashionably flexible, less loyal to single brands, and more open to different styles. These never-before widely available means made them able to be more self-sufficient, not having to work as hard to obtain jobs, money, fame, and education. They often take advantage of this new and thriving electronic world.

Finally, we have Generation Z; there are no other names because we’ve not yet seen what it will grow up to be known for. All of us here at the high school belong to this generation, and we have yet to make our imprint on the world. We do, however, have predictions and observations based on how far we’ve come.

Generation Z is sometimes referred as “digital natives,” or kids who grew up with advanced technology, have the knowledge to utilize it, and probably could not live without it. This overreliance on technology can become a problem, but as the rest of the world progresses scientifically and technologically, so must their children.

Millenials had to learn that the world wasn’t all sunshine – Generation Z knew from the beginning with the terror and things going on in the world; Generation Z is often thought to be the antidote to Gen X’s, the Baby Boomers’, and the Millenials’ error.

“These kids are going to have to save the world literally,” from author Don Tapscott in Anne Kingston’s article “Get Ready for Generation Z.”

While Millenials were a result of self-serving Baby Boomers, Generation Z is the result of the hardy Generation X. Described as “conscientious, hard-working, somewhat anxious and mindful of the future,” we may be able to accomplish things that our predecessors could not. There are approximately sixty million American members of Generation Z.

Blind optimism and political correctness are things many Gen Zs are coming to discover aren’t as believable as they seem — they’re thinking for themselves — and researchers say that parallels are being strongly seen between them and the long past Silent Generation, who were ultimately one of the most effective and beneficial generations in U.S. history.

Of course, every generation has its individual faults, strengths, and circumstances, but each one, no matter its tangible worth, is a remnant of America’s growing process. They are a reminder of all the stages we’ve gone through to get where we are, to look back on and learn from, and to use in order to expect and direct our swiftly coming future. Every generation inherited its own dispositions, but also the liberty to shape and overcome them. Generation Z (our generation) still has its potential to achieve, its future yet undecided, and every ability to do so. What will our generation be known for? What will we accomplish? Where will we fail? Will we be the worst or the best yet? Some generations were prepared to encounter these questions with a golden answer, while others fell lower in prowess. If we as a generation fail, we all do. If we surpass the greatness of our predecessors, however, America could be spurred faster on the toilsome, unending path to greatness and be made stronger than ever before.