Had a recent discussion with my husband the other day about the “Lost Generation.” Who exactly are they? I belong to Generation X and my husband was one of the last to be born in the Baby Boomers generation.
I’ve noticed, especially in the military, that this “Lost Generation” certainly seems to be at a lost especially when it comes to respect and military bearing. Not once in my career during what I would term the “old school” Army did I witness such blatant disrespect towards or officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs).
Now, now I see it everywhere and unfortunately witnessed such an incident this past drill weekend within my own unit. This private took it upon himself to sound off against our 1st Sergeant and, of course, this was taken care of.
Time to get off my soapbox but sometimes I have to speak out.
Generational ideology has always fascinated me and I was able to pick out a website which contains a great breakdown of each segment:
In America, there are six living generations, which are six fairly distinct groups of people. As a generalization each generation has different likes, dislikes, and attributes. They have had collective experiences as they aged and therefore have similar ideals. A person’s birth date may not always be indicative of their generational characteristics, but as a common group they have similarities.
- Strong sense of personal civic duty, which means they vote.
- Marriage is for life, divorce and having children out of wedlock were not accepted.
- Strong loyalty to jobs, groups, schools, etc.
- There was no “retirement” you worked until your died or couldn’t work anymore.
- The labor-union-spawning generation.
- “Use it up, fix it up, make it do, or do without.”
- Avoid debt…save and buy with cash.
- Age of radio and air flight; they were the generation that remembers life without airplanes, radio, and TV.
- Most of them grew up without modern conveniences like refrigerators, electricity and air conditioning.
- Sometimes called The Greatest Generation.
Mature/Silents (My parents)
- Born 1927- 1945.
- Went through their formative years during an era of suffocating conformity, but also during the postwar happiness: Peace! Jobs! Suburbs! Television! Rock ‘n Roll! Cars! Playboy Magazine!
- Korean and Vietnam War generation.
- The First Hopeful Drumbeats of Civil Rights!
- Pre-feminism women; women stayed home generally to raise children, if they worked it was only certain jobs like teacher, nurse or secretary.
- Men pledged loyalty to the corporation, once you got a job, you generally kept it for life.
- The richest, most free-spending retirees in history.
- Marriage is for life, divorce and having children out of wedlock were not accepted.
- In grade school, the gravest teacher complaints were about passing notes and chewing gum in class.
- They are avid readers, especially newspapers.
- “Retirement” means to sit in a rocking chair and live your final days in peace.
- The Big-Band/Swing music generation.
- Strong sense of trans-generational common values and near-absolute truths.
- Disciplined, self-sacrificing, & cautious.
Baby Boomers (My Husband)
- Born between 1946 and 1964. Two sub-sets:
- 1. the save-the-world revolutionaries of the ’60s and ’70s;
- and 2. the party-hardy career climbers (Yuppies) of the ’70s/’80s.
- The “me” generation.
- “Rock and roll” music generation.
- Ushered in the free love and societal “non-violent” protests which triggered violence.
- Self righteous & self-centered.
- Buy it now and use credit.
- Too busy for much neighborly involvement yet strong desires to reset or change the common values for the good of all.
- Even though their mothers were generally housewives, responsible for all child rearing, women of this generation began working outside the home in record numbers, thereby changing the entire nation as this was the first generation to have their own children raised in a two-income household where mom was not omnipresent.
- The first TV generation.
- The first divorce generation, where divorce was beginning to be accepted as a tolerable reality.
- Began accepting homosexuals.
- Optimistic, driven, team-oriented.
- Envision technology and innovation as requiring a learning process.
- Tend to be more positive about authority, hierarchal structure and tradition.
- One of the largest generations in history with 77 million people.
- Their aging will change America almost incomprehensibly; they are the first generation to use the word “retirement” to mean being able to enjoy life after the children have left home. Instead of sitting in a rocking chair, they go skydiving, exercise and take up hobbies, which increases their longevity.
- The American Youth Culture that began with them is now ending with them and their activism is beginning to re-emerge.
Generation X. (Me)
- Born between 1965 and 1980*
- The “latch-key kids” grew up street-smart but isolated, often with divorced or career-driven parents. Latch-Key came from the house key kids wore around their neck, because they would go home from school to an empty house.
- Very individualistic.
- Government and big business mean little to them.
- Want to save the neighborhood, not the world
- Feel misunderstood by other generations
- Cynical of many major institutions, which failed their parents, or them, during their formative years and are therefore eager to make marriage work and “be there” for their children
- Don’t “feel” like a generation, but they are
- Raised in the transition phase of written based knowledge to digital knowledge archives; most remember being in school without computers and then after the introduction of computers in middle school or high school
- Desire a chance to learn, explore and make a contribution
- Tend to commit to self rather than an organization or specific career. This generation averages 7 career changes in their lifetime, it was not normal to work for a company for life, unlike previous generations.
- Society and thus individuals are envisioned as disposable.
- AIDS begins to spread and is first lethal infectious disease in the history of any culture on earth which was not subjected to any quarantine.
- Beginning obsession of individual rights prevailing over the common good, especially if it is applicable to any type of minority group.
- Raised by the career and money conscious Boomers amidst the societal disappointment over governmental authority and the Vietnam war.
- School problems were about drugs.
- Late to marry (after cohabitation) and quick to divorce…many single parents.
- Into labels and brand names.
- Want what they want and want it now but struggling to buy, and most are deeply in credit card debt.
- It is has been researched that they may be conversationally shallow because relating consists of shared time watching video movies, instead of previous generations.
- Short on loyalty & wary of commitment; all values are relative…must tolerate all peoples.
- Self-absorbed and suspicious of all organization.
- Survivors as individuals.
- Cautious, skeptical, unimpressed with authority, self-reliant.
Generation Y/Millennium (My daughter)
- Born between 1981* and 2000*.
- Aka “The 9/11 Generation” “Echo Boomers” America’s next great generation brings a sharp departure from Generation X.
- They are nurtured by omnipresent parents, optimistic, and focused.
- Respect authority.
- Falling crime rates. Falling teen pregnancy rates. But with school safety problems; they have to live with the thought that they could be shot at school, they learned early that the world is not a safe place.
- They schedule everything.
- They feel enormous academic pressure.
- They feel like a generation and have great expectations for themselves.
- Prefer digital literacy as they grew up in a digital environment. Have never known a world without computers! They get all their information and most of their socialization from the Internet.
- Prefer to work in teams.
- With unlimited access to information tend to be assertive with strong views.
- Envision the world as a 24/7 place; want fast and immediate processing.
- They have been told over and over again that they are special, and they expect the world to treat them that way.
- They do not live to work, they prefer a more relaxed work environment with a lot of hand holding and accolades.
Irregardless of which generation we belong to, we are all Americans and need to work together towards the common good. We all need to contribute towards the betterment of society. When we narrow our focus to just ourselves we become selfish and short-sighted. Sadly, I feel that’s what is happening to a lot of individuals in my daughter’s generation. It’s all about self-entitlement, not self-accountability.
In the end, all of us need to work together, find common goals, remember that we are Americans.
A lot can be said about the Greatest Generation. We should remember the sacrifices made (i.e. D-Day) and what our grandparents (great-grandparents gave up) to ensure their descendents would have a free and meaningful life.