Not Talking About My Generation

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his food writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast. Subscribe to Andrew's Heard Tell SubStack for free here:

Related Post Roulette

24 Responses

  1. veronica d says:

    Speaking as someone on the older side of Gen-X, I’ll say this: I totally support the Millennials and Zoomers. You guys are awesome. Your TikTok vids are funny. It’s okay to make fun of us olds. We can be kinda grumpy sometimes.

    That said, obviously we should judge people according to their character, not their age, but I’m sure the younger crowd knows that.Report

  2. JoeSal says:

    I would comment, but your generation is censoring so much it’s not worth it.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    There’s much to be said for shared experiences.

    My cohort remembers watching The Day After on television (or our parents watching it) and being terrified of Nuclear War. We saw War Games in the theater. We saw music videos on MTV. We don’t really remember Vietnam but we remember all of the Vietnam movies and rented most of them from Blockbuster.

    And now we have conversations with full-grown adults who don’t remember 9/11. Kids old enough to drive don’t remember the debates over Iraq.

    And they look at us and make cultural references that sail over our heads. “That was a BTS song.” “Backstreet Boys?”

    The only thing we can do is run up to them and say “I HEARD A NEW SONG WAIT WATCH ME WIMP WATCH ME NAY NAY!!!!” and start dancing.

    “Have you heard of the floss dance? I’ve been working on it.”Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

      The Boomers — full disclosure, I am one — spent most of their formative years with only three television networks; most remember B&W TV; music was largely limited to records and AM radio (until you went to college and discovered FM). While I had at least fingers in delivering the underpinning technology for today’s communication tech, I’ve been a very limited adopter of it. My kids, and now my granddaughters, live in a very different world because of that.

      OT, but I feel mildly embarrassed every time fillyjonk and other teachers complain about the online class technology. 25+ years ago when I did a prototype internet seminar system, I really thought that by now such systems would be “casually” good. That is, having it online rather than in-person wouldn’t be that big a deal.Report

  4. Greginak says:

    Generational generalizations are lazy and almost always poor. There is so little you can know about someone just based on their birth cohort. You kids stop doing them. You aren’t explaining anything.Report

  5. Oscar Gordon says:

    I tend to find more in common based upon where I grew up than when. I could be at a crowded party where I don’t know many people, and if there is someone who grew up in the Mid West there, we will be drawn towards each other like magnets.Report

  6. InMD says:

    Insert standard list of Xennial grievances here.Report

  7. Saul Degraw says:

    I agree in part and dissent in part. I think there are shared cultural, social, and technological experiences that can bind a cohort but the cohort should be a much smaller age range. The Boomers are officially anyone born between 1946-1965. This is an absurdly large group. My parents were born in 1946 and 1947 and are boomers. Kevin Drum was born in 1959 and is also considered a boomer. Putting them in the same generation is absurd because when my parents graduated from college in 1968, the Vietnam War was a very real thing and so was the draft. Kevin Drum missed this easily.

    Gen X is somewhat better as a group because it has fewer historical events that can serve as stark contrasts like the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. What binds Gen X together whether it is an early Gen Xer like my older brother or me is an ability to remember functioning in the pre-Internet world. Though I know people born my age who hate being tagged as part of older Gen X and prefer Xennial or Millennial for reasons I find obscure and probably mainly deal with issues related to older siblings.Report

    • InMD in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I actually think the analog/digital childhood is the better dividing line than the weird early 80s split, understanding of course that it will always be somewhat arbitrary.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to InMD says:

        I think what divides older Gen x, which I basically see as being in your twenties during the 1990s, and late Gen X, roughly that your twenties was during Bush II and the first half of Obama’s 1st term, is that older Gen X seems to have bummed around more during their early twenties before getting professional level jobs or going back to school. Late Gen X seems to have been very career focused from the bat. This is mainly because city living was still cheap when early Gen X was in their twenties, so you could pay rent by things like bar tending or bike messaging. The bum around experience seems a lot less in late Gen X.

        The Real World, Singles, Reality Bites, and Friends gave me a severely misguided idea of what my twenties would be like.

        A pithier way to put it is that late Gen X thinks that Ben Stiller’s character in Reality Bites was the more responsible adult while early Gen X sympathized more with Ethan Hawke and Wiona Ryder’s characters.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

          A pithier way to put it is that late Gen X thinks that Ben Stiller’s character in Reality Bites was the more responsible adult while early Gen X sympathized more with Ethan Hawke and Wiona Ryder’s characters.

          Mots justes.Report

    • Agree on giving the Boomers too many years. Later Boomers missed Vietnam and hippies as social influences, just for example.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Michael Cain says:

        The youngest boomers were wondering what they were going to get for their birthdays and learning how to read and write while the older boomers were fighting in Vietnam, protesting in the United States, or just dealing with the expanded freedoms of the late 1960s.Report

  8. Chip Daniels says:

    One of the laziest parts of generational cohort identification is how it is so parochial about what experiences are being shared.

    I recall seeing the movie Cooley High, a 1975 movies about a group of young black high schoolers in 1964 Chicago. I only saw the blurb, that it was about teenagers in the early 60s and just assumed blithely that it would have a soundtrack filled with Beatles and Stones music.

    Of course…there was none of that. The soundtrack was what black kids in the early 60s were listening to- Motown, soul, R&B.
    Because…what the white Boomers were sharing and experiencing in 1964 was different than what other Boomers were sharing.

    We could do the same for any other age cohort, and show that the differences within the cohort are larger than the differences between them.

    Look at any Trump rally, and see all the Woodstock generation shaking their fists at these kids today.

    Except- the Woodstock generation only was shared by some; For every Boomer hippie placing a daisy in a rifle barrel, there was a Boomer National Guardsman holding the rifle.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      I’m whitish by American standards but growing up to Democratic parents in a Democratic stronghold certainly seems to have given me a very different childhood than many Americans born between 78 and 82. Like I recently learned that there was a big moral panic over one of the cartoons I watched as kid, Thunder Cats, because parents thought it would lead children away from Christianity to Eastern Mysticism (TM). The parents in my suburb might have eye-rolled at what we 80s kids watched but nobody thought they were Satanic or were going to lure us away from Judaism.

      Kids of my generation raised in more conservative parts of the country seemed to have received more active anti-drug propaganda than kids in my area did. I do not remember anybody from DARE coming and doing an anti-drug presentation during elementary school. My parents would have personally rolled their eyes at a lot of the war on drugs propaganda.Report

      • veronica d in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I got the drugs propaganda is grade school. A cop came into school and warned us about drugs. It was really weird. Honestly, it made drugs seem strangely attractive, in a dark sort of way.Report

        • InMD in reply to veronica d says:

          We had a whole series of them for months on end, including into middle school. Everyone had several D.A.R.E. t-shirts before it was over. I am also pretty sure it had the complete opposite effect in that it made drugs more interesting and alluring at a formative age. In fact, back when I bought my first bo- eh nevermind.Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to InMD says:

            These were entirely absent from my elementary school experience. The only time we had a cop come over was to teach us about bike and road safety. He told us about how even though we felt really free with our bikes, we will know what freedom is really like when we learn how to drive.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

        My Southern Californian high school days (’74-’78) was like something out of Dazed and Confused, or That 70’s Show, where students could legally smoke in designated areas and the theater club showed Reefer Madness at lunchtime and drugs were the stuff of jokes.

        Which is to say, my Late Boomer age cohort experienced a very different life than my older Early Boomer siblings who regaled me with dark stories of parochial school nuns and Hippie Era culture clash.

        Which is also why I am pessimistic about the whole “Arc of the Universe” theory, that bends inevitably towards liberalism and justice.

        The cohort that came after me experienced an environment that was in some ways much more restrictive and prudish than I did.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Utah campaign against porn marches on with phone filter plan

          Conservative lawmakers in Utah have fired another salvo in their longtime campaign against online porn with a new requirement that all cellphones and tablets sold in the state automatically block pornography in a plan that critics call a significant intrusion on free speech.

          Is this a last ditch rearguard action? Or the opening wedge of an American version of the Taliban?

          I don’t know. But there are plenty of nations around the world which have moved from free to unfree, liberal to illiberal, secular to rigidly religious.Report

      • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Rural Canada in the late the 90’s was the most boring High School experience one can conceive of I think. When the computer with the internet showed up in the library it was like the sky cracked open.

        Holy agnostic fishing God(ess?) if I knew then what I know now.Report