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#1 Selena

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 03:59 PM

I've spent a bit too much time reading wiki articles about the modern generations of society and their cultural impacts. Each generation has a certain "personality" to it, in a way. An attitude. They left behind their own unique legacies that helped reshape our world as we know it, for better or worse.

The generations view each other differently. There are different dynamics at work depending on how close you are to one particular generation. So, out of curiosity, how do YOU view the other generations? Most of us are in the same age range, so answers might not be too varied, but still could be interesting. Especially from those people who don't live in the States.

And yes, the time frames I'm giving are very general, and set during their time of dominance.


The Greatest Generation (Depression/WWII era) [wiki]

I feel closest to this generation, but that may be due to the fact that my grandmother had a large part in raising me. War movies have turned this generation into a bunch of Nazi-killing superheroes, but things are never that romantic. This was a generation used to having nothing. They grew up in the Depression and were then thrust into the most horrendous war in human history. They saw the birth of the nuclear bomb -- a technology that, in the wrong hands, had the power to completely end civilization. A long way from their humble beginnings. Everything was revolutionized in their lifetimes. They had so much thrown at them so fast. They're not the "Greatest Generation" because they were inherently better than their successors. They were great because they were able to shoulder it all.

They're quiet. It wasn't custom to rant endlessly about personal problems. They're used to not having much, and, even in old age, seem to shun many of the luxury items that later generations horde. They like to do everything by hand. Make all their food from scratch. Their lives ensured that they developed many practical skills that remain useful no matter how much society changes. I generally like them very much, though their conservative nature can be off-putting. Many still remain staunch patriots that can see no wrong in what their country does, though others became bitter and mentally scarred due to some of the less than noble actions taken during the war.


The Silent Generation (50's) [wiki]

A lot of influential writers and thinkers, but... to be honest, I never think much of these guys. They're situated awkwardly between the World War and the cultural revolution of the Boomers. The early stages of the Cold War factored into their mentality, which can explain some of the disillusioned rebellion of the more artistic types and the guarded paranoia of the more conservative members of society.


The Baby Boomers (60's-70's) [wiki]

It's a love-hate sort of thing, but my parents are part of this generation, so that may be why. On the one hand, they are responsible for most of the important cultural upheavals in (relatively) recent years. Strong advocates of civil rights and being able to forge your own personal identity. They broke free of the nationalistic mentality the older generations had. You're not just part of the big American machine. You are your own person. Celebrate it. Cold War paranoia was still a factor, but the mess of Vietnam was their defining moment in foreign politics. People started to be more critical of the status quo -- something I think we generally inherited from them.

On the other hand, the "back to nature" mentality of the hippie movement faded fast. At a certain point, probably once they gained stable independence, they stopped being such strong advocates. Instead, they started focusing on enjoying their lives to the best of their ability, which involved lifestyles that tended to go beyond their price range. They had money, so they used it. A lot of it. This was probably the generation that started the tradition of racking up a lot of debt as they got older, and their focus on their own personal happiness via material possessions had a lot to do with that. I think, anyway. Everyone had to keep up with the Joneses. Their spending habits were probably a major factor in the current economic downturn once the debt-shit hit the fan, especially when you consider they passed on those habits to the younger folk.


Generation X (80's-90's) [wiki]

For people in my age group, the big sibling generation. There were two subtypes.

The "Daria" was whiny and introverted. Had tons of possibilities, and could probably do anything they wanted if they put forth enough effort, but still thought that everything was terrible. A buck-the-system sort of person, even if the system was working fine at the time. Spent a lot of time wearing flannel and listening to moody grunge rock. They were kind of like the depressed version of hippies. Creative, did a lot of drugs, all about fighting the power.... just, where hippies were "everything is wonderful lol lsd," these guys were more "everything sucks lol cocaine." I'm not sure if that says something about the times they lived in or the types of drugs they used.

The "Blair" subtype was the pampered, materialistic princess in a side-ponytail that worshiped MTV when it still played actual music videos. Continuing with the early self-interest of the Boomers, they charged everything to a credit card and worried about paying it off later because they had to look cool in a world that was rapidly embracing technology. Often the poster children of movies that starred Molly Ringwald. Shallow, fickle, only concerned with having fun.

As they got older, that matured into the cast of Friends. The wiki article mentions that, unlike the vocal Boomers, they were more likely to just ignore politics. I think that sounds fairly accurate for them.


Generation Y (90's-2000's / currently in their 20's) [wiki]

Us, for the most part.

We grew up in an era full of promises. The Cold War finally ended, so the world was supposed to be at peace, and the economy was booming from the dawn of the digital age. A new, glorious era was supposed to be ours for the taking. We grew up being told that we could do anything we wanted and that we were the most privileged generation in a long time. In a way, we grew up in a time that reflected the Roaring 20's - everything in a boom, everything bright and shiny, everything looking great. And we grew arrogant from this, I think. We thought we were special.

But just like the Roaring 20's, everything came to a screeching halt, and the promises soon proved to be empty. Because the 20's gave way to the 30's. Just as we were getting ready to graduate and come into our own, the economy tanked hard, and suddenly all the things we wanted and planned on doing became very out of reach for a lot of people. At the same time 9/11 and the wars that followed had a major impact. People we cared about got shipped overseas. A lot of us went with them. The wars resembled Vietnam after a while, with questions of "why are we still here?" understandably floating about. We're more vocal that Generation X about politics, I think, though probably lacking the dramatics of the Boomers.

Because we were raised to have specialized skills, especially related to computers, and blue collar work was discreetly discouraged in favor of a white collar collegiate lifestyle, our generation tends to lack the practical skills our grandparents developed during the Depression. We graduated with skills that aren't necessarily marketable in an economy where jobs are hard to come by. Some were lucky, of course. Others sunk into multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet. You stumble into careers now, it feels like, while trying desperately to find work or get re-trained.

Older generations say we're materialistic, and this is very true, but I mostly think we're bitter and disillusioned. And unlike Generation X, we have a legitimate reason to be.



Generation Z (2000's-2010's) [wiki]

Still cooking, generally the kids of Gen X. They have little or few memories of 9/11, knowing only of the years after, and they'll come of age in this decade. Basically, Leo and Kisseena's generation. Squee, aren't they cute? Probably more digital than we were, since we grew up in the age of dial up. Gadgetry everywhere. And perhaps less discipline than earlier generations since, sometime after I left middle school, it became uncool to punish your kids when they acted up. I'm related to an elementary school teacher and she's mentioned that current kids are harder to control than the older generations were.

I think they're growing up with more emphasis on "pick a major you can get a career from" rather than our "pick a major you enjoy and I'm sure you'll find a job afterward because the economy is boomi--oh nevermind you're boned." And because they were still developing when the economic fall happened, I don't think they're quite as discontent as we tend to be. Maybe had some hard times as their family downsized, but no false promises to look back on in spite.

Their fate is yet to be determined. OooooOOOOoooh. o__o

#2 JRPomazon

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 04:16 PM

Well, this is a nice source of condensed information. It's nice to get a whole overview of the generational differences from the past 70+ years. I approve.

#3 brier

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 04:39 PM

Generation Z (2000's-2010's) [wiki]

Still cooking, generally the kids of Gen X. They have little or few memories of 9/11, knowing only of the years after, and they'll come of age in this decade. Basically, Leo and Kisseena's generation. Squee, aren't they cute? Probably more digital than we were, since we grew up in the age of dial up. Gadgetry everywhere. And perhaps less discipline than earlier generations since, sometime after I left middle school, it became uncool to punish your kids when they acted up. I'm related to an elementary school teacher and she's mentioned that current kids are harder to control than the older generations were.

I think they're growing up with more emphasis on "pick a major you can get a career from" rather than our "pick a major you enjoy and I'm sure you'll find a job afterward because the economy is boomi--oh nevermind you're boned." And because they were still developing when the economic fall happened, I don't think they're quite as discontent as we tend to be. Maybe had some hard times as their family downsized, but no false promises to look back on in spite.

Their fate is yet to be determined. OooooOOOOoooh. o__o



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#4 Crimson Lego

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 07:31 PM

I think they're growing up with more emphasis on "pick a major you can get a career from" rather than our "pick a major you enjoy and I'm sure you'll find a job afterward because the economy is boomi--oh nevermind you're boned."


Completely agree and sympathize with this.

#5 Egann

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 11:18 PM

One of the lovely things we get to see in a flow like this is that wonderful Kondratiev cycle, again. Lovely. In any case, if no one minds I've got a tangent which may or may not want to split into another thread. We'll see.

But just like the Roaring 20's, everything came to a screeching halt, and the promises soon proved to be empty. Because the 20's gave way to the 30's. Just as we were getting ready to graduate and come into our own, the economy tanked hard, and suddenly all the things we wanted and planned on doing became very out of reach for a lot of people. At the same time 9/11 and the wars that followed had a major impact. People we cared about got shipped overseas. A lot of us went with them. The wars resembled Vietnam after a while, with questions of "why are we still here?" understandably floating about. We're more vocal that Generation X about politics, I think, though probably lacking the dramatics of the Boomers.
Because we were raised to have specialized skills, especially related to computers, and blue collar work was discreetly discouraged in favor of a white collar collegiate lifestyle, our generation tends to lack the practical skills our grandparents developed during the Depression. We graduated with skills that aren't necessarily marketable in an economy where jobs are hard to come by. Some were lucky, of course. Others sunk into multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet. You stumble into careers now, it feels like, while trying desperately to find work or get re-trained.

Older generations say we're materialistic, and this is very true, but I mostly think we're bitter and disillusioned. And unlike Generation X, we have a legitimate reason to be.



I think you're missing one of the most important cultural shifts of all time here. In the Greatest Generation, the objective of work was to be economically productive, to earn a living or to otherwise support the family. Now, the objective is to be EMPLOYED, to have an income. The difference is subtle, but significant; no one watches the GDP--what work performed was actually worth--when all eyes are on unemployment. Basically, we aren't concerned with generating money so much as collectively getting a piece of the action, whether we produce value or not.

Speaking of value, I've been studying Marx's Das Kapital in my spare time (I have to do a presentation on it at the end of the semester.) I really think he should be required reading; he says a lot of really insightful things, but unless you really have your head screwed on straight and can ask good questions yourself you might get swept along by him.

Example: OK, Marx. If Socially necessary labor-time is what produces value, then why is it PRICE suddenly skyrockets in a disaster? This implies price and value are not the same thing, which kind of defeats the purpose of a value-based economic theory, now doesn't it? FYI: This is why modern economic theory is marginal economics, not value-based.

In any case, I bring Marx up because I want to tie it in with the changing perspective on how the working class live. Marx imposes the necessity for moving to socialism by drawing a sharp contrast between wage laborers and capitalists. Basically, wage laborers take a commodity (work), turn it into money (their pay), and then turn that money into other commodities needed for life (CMC). Capitalists take money, start up a production line to make goods, then sell those goods to make money (MCM). Marx's point is that, all things being equal, the MCM distribution makes no sense because the capitalist would wind up with the same M that he started with, ergo he must be using force to overwork the laborers so he can make a profit.

In any case, combine this with the "our objective is to be employed" ideal. Methinks the economic failure we've seen over the past decade is the exact reverse of what Marx saw; laborers were continuing to work--converting a commodity to income--regardless of whether or not any "work" was being done (think Enron)* and combine THAT with more and more wage laborers owning stocks in retirement accounts and being susceptible to market volatility...you wind up with a house of cards. The economy we've been seeing is a lot of a "get back to basics" head dunk in ice-water.

Sorry. Apparently an atopical rambling is my idea of a buzzed post.

*EDIT: It's worth noting that this applies equally to Federal and State unemployment; basically, the employer *still* has to pay you even if he wants to lay you off. Income without producing work.

Edited by Egann, 29 September 2011 - 11:21 PM.


#6 arunma

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 12:35 AM

Lena, I absolutely love your analysis of the recent generations' various characteristics! I'll have to comment more fully when it's not late at night. In the mean time, here are some preliminary thoughts.

Because we were raised to have specialized skills, especially related to computers, and blue collar work was discreetly discouraged in favor of a white collar collegiate lifestyle, our generation tends to lack the practical skills our grandparents developed during the Depression. We graduated with skills that aren't necessarily marketable in an economy where jobs are hard to come by. Some were lucky, of course. Others sunk into multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet. You stumble into careers now, it feels like, while trying desperately to find work or get re-trained.

...

I think they're growing up with more emphasis on "pick a major you can get a career from" rather than our "pick a major you enjoy and I'm sure you'll find a job afterward because the economy is boomi--oh nevermind you're boned." And because they were still developing when the economic fall happened, I don't think they're quite as discontent as we tend to be. Maybe had some hard times as their family downsized, but no false promises to look back on in spite.


You know how I'm always whining on contro about how it should be a capital offense for CEOs to lay off workers on account of layoffs being equivalent to utterly destroying over someone's life without actually killing them? You've just identified the practical solution that I should have been advocating all this time: don't major in something that doesn't get you a (real) job. Don't worry, I'll do my best not to turn this conversation controversial. :whistle:

Something every college student should know but doesn't: all majors aren't created equal. Some are basically worthless from an economic standpoint. Fields other than science and engineering (and a few other notable areas) are of absolutely no use direct use to society. I'm not saying this as any sort of insult to those who are in such fields (since I know many of you are), but I'm just observing the fact that a lot of fields of study don't translate to skills that will result in direct economic benfit for hiring corporations. And I'm not saying that such subjects aren't enlightening, educational, etc. But let's face it, at the end of the day, your economic worth is measured by how much someone is willing to pay you to do what you're good at. As cool as psychology or English is, it's pointless if someone doesn't hire you to do a job. Because hiring equals money equals food on the table, which you need to keep on living. Now, majoring in an economically worthless subject is fine if you're independently wealthy and are in school for the sake of enlightenment. But seriously, what middle-class person pays $40,000 for a college education without the expectation that they'll get a better job than they would with just a high school diploma? That fact makes me wonder why people come to college and major in something that won't directly translate into a fairly specific job.

For better or worse though, that's pretty much what our generation did. And here's why I'm bringing this up outside of contro: in generations past, only the rich could afford college, and education was a luxury. Back then college wasn't seen as a means to getting a job, but as a means of self-betterment. Today, college is seen as a means of getting a higher paycheck in the future. Accordingly, the middle class is willing to pay for the privilege of going to college. I wonder what effect this will have on society as a whole. Bachelor's degrees are no longer conferred on only the upper echelon of society. Now practically everyone in America (about 70% if I recall correctly) goes to college after high school. This means that society as a whole is better educated, but not better employed. There are some benefits to this: a better-informed electorate, a more rational society, etc. Ther are also drawbacks: fewer people wanting to serve as our cashiers and janitors.. I am quite curious as to how this affects the culture of America.

Edited by arunma, 30 September 2011 - 12:41 AM.


#7 Twinrova

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 01:34 AM

But seriously, what middle-class person pays $40,000 for a college education without the expectation that they'll get a better job than they would with just a high school diploma?


*waves* Hi. ;d

#8 Kisseena

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 09:26 AM

HEY I WAS BORN IN '92! I'm almost 20! :P Gimmie six more months!
My mommy was generation X and I'm her kid, I'll put myself in Y. ;d

I however, am not very fond of the Y and Z generations, especially Z. Too many of them are rude, inconsiderate little brats, and they have their heads too far up their butts to care for anyone but themselves. I sound like an old person. :o But the thing is they're in my generation. :P
Anyways, what they need is a good butt whoopin' with a belt, just like me when I was a kid! Look at me! I'm juuust fine! *twitch*

Relevant:

Edited by Kisseena, 30 September 2011 - 10:03 AM.


#9 Egann

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 09:41 AM

Something every college student should know but doesn't: all majors aren't created equal. Some are basically worthless from an economic standpoint. Fields other than science and engineering (and a few other notable areas) are of absolutely no use direct use to society. I'm not saying this as any sort of insult to those who are in such fields (since I know many of you are), but I'm just observing the fact that a lot of fields of study don't translate to skills that will result in direct economic benfit for hiring corporations. And I'm not saying that such subjects aren't enlightening, educational, etc. But let's face it, at the end of the day, your economic worth is measured by how much someone is willing to pay you to do what you're good at. As cool as psychology or English is, it's pointless if someone doesn't hire you to do a job. Because hiring equals money equals food on the table, which you need to keep on living. Now, majoring in an economically worthless subject is fine if you're independently wealthy and are in school for the sake of enlightenment. But seriously, what middle-class person pays $40,000 for a college education without the expectation that they'll get a better job than they would with just a high school diploma? That fact makes me wonder why people come to college and major in something that won't directly translate into a fairly specific job.

For better or worse though, that's pretty much what our generation did. And here's why I'm bringing this up outside of contro: in generations past, only the rich could afford college, and education was a luxury. Back then college wasn't seen as a means to getting a job, but as a means of self-betterment. Today, college is seen as a means of getting a higher paycheck in the future. Accordingly, the middle class is willing to pay for the privilege of going to college. I wonder what effect this will have on society as a whole. Bachelor's degrees are no longer conferred on only the upper echelon of society. Now practically everyone in America (about 70% if I recall correctly) goes to college after high school. This means that society as a whole is better educated, but not better employed. There are some benefits to this: a better-informed electorate, a more rational society, etc. Ther are also drawbacks: fewer people wanting to serve as our cashiers and janitors.. I am quite curious as to how this affects the culture of America.



If you could do that, I'd be inclined to agree. As is, there are quite a few reasons that just "picking the right major" doesn't work. My uncle was a geologist and studied petrolium extraction...and graduated exactly when oil companies started to cut back on their drilling operations. Then he went back to school to become a vet and work on horses...and the economy REALLY tanked so no one has horses anymore (or they're doing most of their vet work themselves). My uncle's been making ends meet for the past two years being a cat and dog vet. The Spoony One rather infamously became an internet reviewier because he couldn't find work for his computer science degree. Oh, and in other news, some years ago, CNet did an internal poll of who had what degree in their employees; English was the top, Computer Science tied with religious studies for fifth place. Yes, in a tech-reporting branch of CBS, Computer science tied with religious studies. (The specific link escapes me; I've spent half the morning searching for it.)

It boils down to this; if a job is available, it will be filled. People with credentials, of course, will get preference, but it all boils down to if the job is available. What we're seeing now in the economy really isn't terribly representative--this isn't a recession, it's a depression; it's just the economy has grown enough since the 30's it hasn't left people in soup lines--but once things settle out (probably another five or eight years) the jobs will start returning and we'll have a post-depression boom like the 50's.

Edited by Egann, 30 September 2011 - 09:41 AM.


#10 Selena

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 12:03 PM

Something every college student should know but doesn't: all majors aren't created equal. Some are basically worthless from an economic standpoint. Fields other than science and engineering (and a few other notable areas) are of absolutely no use direct use to society. I'm not saying this as any sort of insult to those who are in such fields (since I know many of you are), but I'm just observing the fact that a lot of fields of study don't translate to skills that will result in direct economic benfit for hiring corporations. And I'm not saying that such subjects aren't enlightening, educational, etc. But let's face it, at the end of the day, your economic worth is measured by how much someone is willing to pay you to do what you're good at.

...etc.



All true, but it's a bit more complicated than that, I think.

We weren't necessarily raised with that mindset - society was reshaped during the relatively affluent period we grew up in. "Pick a major you can get a lucrative career from" was a lesson many people learned in retrospect. As we were growing up, though, we were being discreetly conditioned to place intense focus on college. If you didn't go to college, you were considered a failure. Even if you went to trade school and got certified for something that can net you $60,000 a year, then you still undershot everyone's expectations. High schools started measuring their success by the number of people who moved on to college.

If you were unsure of what you wanted to actually do at college, or if you were more interested in a non-science-y degree, then people often told you "go to college anyway, do general studies, and declare a major later!" Because that's a brilliant idea when college lands you in significant debt after just a semester or two. People assumed that jobs would be plentiful by the time most of us were getting ready to leave high school, so even a less than marketable degree would have opportunity.


At the same time, it's not purely a student-side problem. Because everyone was expected to attend college, employers changed their hiring requirements. Now a lot of jobs really do require a bachelors, even in the most asinine degrees. The sort of education that can only be used for one very over-specific career, sometimes. Others may accept experience in lieu of a bachelors, but it's difficult to get your foot in the door to gain experience without an internship.... something bigger companies now only tend to give college students, even if it's a job that most anyone can do, with or without formal training.

It's not quite the same as the Depression, where my grandmother could land jobs without formal training due to the relative rarity of college degrees - she spent time as a bookkeeper (now requires a four year accounting-type degree for even low end jobs) and, at one point, as a judge in local courts (would never happen now ever).


It's a complicated situation. I'm glad younger people are being told to focus on majors that offer stable careers, but I think the college problem will be around for a while. If not be made into a mandatory part of education at this rate, whether someone can settle on a major or not.

#11 Sir Turtlelot

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 12:23 PM

I was born into Y generation, and I would say that a few of Y (and Z) tendencies, but I've noticed that I find my mentality most similar to the Greatest Generation. I think this is because both of my parents were born into the Baby Boomers, and they raised me how my grandparents raised them. (All of my grandparents were born into the Greatest Generation.) This would explain why I'm always told that I'm old-fashioned/an old person at heart. ;d

Nice post Lena, it's most interesting.