Who Ruined Two Generations?
May 1st, 2021 | AR
Generations are like genes that get passed through time and that make up the personalities and souls of a civilization. Every so often, a mutation occurs that permanently changes the components of future generations and the characteristics of a society over time. At some point between Boomer and Zoomer, a mutation occurred that took our society from one of facts and science, to one of feelings and emotions. This assessment will be highly negative of Millennials and Generation Z (Zoomer), so please stop reading if you think you may be offended. This will be an indictment of the two most self-absorbed and narcissistic generations to have ever lived. However, Boomers share some of the responsibility.
We will assess each generation by their few most egregious and defining characteristics—particularly the ones that brought us to become a society that values narcissism and feelings more than facts, hard work and science.
The most important generation, the one in which this negative mutation occurred, is Generation X. At the end, you will find a slightly optimistic and positive result that could eventually manifest in the newest generation: Generation Alpha.
The Greatest Generation (GI Generation) – Born: 1901-1928
These are the men who would go on to fight in WWII and the wives who would mourn their lost husbands. Some of them came of age in the 1920s, best remembered as the “roaring 20s”, while others came of age during the Great Depression. They are a generation defined by incredible and unimaginable stress, strife, loss and hardship. They are a generation defined by frugality, hard work with little reward and a philosophy driven by doing what is necessary to survive. They experienced the prosperity of the 1920s and the loss of prosperity followed by the biggest economic collapse on record. Whether it meant plucking chickens for five cents per hour, or plowing a field for five dollars a day, the Greatest Generation did what was necessary to build their families and to re-build a prosperous society for their grandchildren.
The Silent Generation – Born: 1929-1945
Too young to know the hardships of the Great War and the Great Depression, this generation was born into a world on the cusp of astronomical and historic economic success. They are the smallest generation, born to fathers and mothers forced to live carefully and with fewer children after a world war and an economic collapse. They were raised with the same frugality and inherited the same principles of hard work. They are the children who lost their fathers in WWII and whose mothers suffered severe hardship and pain. Many of them would, themselves, go on to fight in Korea and Vietnam.
The Baby Boomers (Boomers) – Born: 1946-1964
Raised by their hard-boiled and frugal parents, Boomers are one of the largest generations to have lived. As the world reached new heights in economic fortunes following WWII, Baby Boomers were the product of an historic jump in birthrates. Some came of age during the Cold War and were confronted by the threat of Communism, while others went on to form revolutionary movements directed at countering racism, segregation, and war. They brought about the “peace and love” revolution that would peak in the 1970s. Often rebelling against the frugality and conservatism of their parents, Boomers would begin to set the course and pave the path for Generation X, Millennials and Z with liberalism, extravagant spending and decadence. Not yet the narcissists that Millennials would eventually become, Boomers built the road leading to the self-absorption and feelings-based attitudes that would define future generations. Many still maintained the parenting skills of previous generations, but taught a slightly less extreme form of frugality to their Generation X children. In a time of heightened prosperity, Boomers began to shed the need for frugality and hard work, but the real and most egregious mutation would not occur until Generation X.
*Generation X – Born: 1965-1981
Born into a world of historic prosperity and minimal global conflict, unlike previous generations, this generation would know very little about true hardship and sacrifice. The world had changed and rates of divorce had risen to the highest levels ever seen, while more women than ever had entered the workforce following an era of feminism and sexual revolution. The children of Boomers, Generation X were subjected to more broken homes and single parenting. A new form of “hardship” had emerged that did not involve the physical hardships seen among the Greatest and Silent generations, but rather a new mental and emotional form of hardship—brought about by reduced and single parenting. This was the mutation that would produce a new style of parenting which, in turn, would alter the attitudes and perceptions of all forthcoming generations. Unlike their Boomer parents, Generation X would minimize their own responsibilities in parenting and allow their children to “find themselves”. In areas of personal responsibility and discipline, Generation X would create a new style of parenting based on self-discovery, selective discipline and an acceptance of natural growth. However, the most egregious element of this mutation in parenting was the emphasis placed on becoming their child's friend, rather than being their child's authoritative guardian. To sum it up, Generation X became more concerned with satisfying their childrens' emotions than with forcing them to adhere to strict rules and disciplinary measures—out of fear of losing their childrens' love and respect.
The Millennials (Generation Y) – Born: 1982-1996
A direct product of both Boomers and Generation X, Millennials grew to become the most tech savvy and technologically capable generation in human history. They came of age just as the internet and “world wide web” were becoming influential cultural precursors. As the world adapted to this new technological revolution, Millennials grew with it. They became the creators and forefathers of social media, online shopping and selfie culture. However, on the dark side of it all, a new era of self-absorption and narcissism was born. Knowing even less about hardship and sacrifice than Generation X, Millennials were left to imagine and create their own hardships to fulfill their need for sympathy, praise and reward. Unlike their parents, Millennials began to think of themselves as experts in every field. Because their Boomer and Generation X parents could not understand technology or grasp the changes that had befell society, Millennials began to think of themselves as intellectual superiors. This dangerous new attitude has propelled society into a direction that rejects the wisdom and experiences of past generations, while embracing a new normal centred around personal feelings and unscientific consensus. Taking Generation X's new feeling-centric mutation to the extremes, Millennials are the result of a parenting style that has ingrained effortless reward and unearned praise into the cultural mainstream. We now live in an era that has successfully normalized participation trophies and attention seeking behaviours.
The Zoomers (Or Zombies), Generation Z – Born: 1997-2012
These are the children and adolescents who are currently between the ages of 9 and 24. They are a mixed bag of privilege, narcissism and ignorance. There are some positive signs, but many in Generation Z have exhibited a more enhanced obsession with feelings than their Millennial predecessors. Born into the age of the internet, not knowing a world without selfies, social media, short videos and Cardi B, this generation could be the last generation before the great crisis that was first identified by Neil Howe and William Strauss as part of ongoing and historical generational cycles. They may be the generation that leads the collapse and breeds a new generation of hard-working, sacrificing people similar to the Greatest Generation. Some of them, born on the later end of the generation's defining timeline, could themselves face unprecedented economic hardships and despair in their lifetimes. Unlike their Millennial and Generation X parents, Zoomers (or Zombies) are less curious about world events, history and news. If it is not on TikTok or Instagram, Zoomers have no use for information or events that could be important, transcendental, destructive or revolutionary. The decline in interest for world history, pertinent events and important news began with Generation X and will most likely end with Generation Z. Unlike previous generations, polls show that Zoomers have tuned out more pertinent information and news than anyone else in human history. Completely oblivious, aloof and spoiled by their prosperity and their historically low levels of poverty, Zoomers have resorted to placing more importance and precedence on how they feel and on culturally unimportant events and figures. In the event of a major catastrophe or world event, Zoomers would be the least prepared physically and emotionally. Their very existence could be what perpetuates social and economic collapse within the next three decades. As they enter and take control of our institutions, courts, and leadership roles, they will be less capable of handling strife, dramatic change, conflict and collapse than any generation that has preceded them. This, in turn, could make way for the following generation's position in Western history as the new Greatest Generation, or “The Rebuilders”.
Generation Alpha (The Rebuilders, The Sufferers, The Pilgrims?) - Born: 2013-Present Day
These generational categories and definitions are in some ways exclusive to Western culture, so it is quite difficult to predict where our society will be in the world when this generation comes of age in the 2040s. The younger members of Generation Z could still find the time to turn things around, but by the time Alpha comes of age, our economy and our society could be left in a severe state of disrepair. In such a case, Alpha will be tasked with rebuilding. Their ability to rebuild will depend on how we parent them today and whether they will inherit a capacity to rebuild or to suffer. Global conflicts, economic hardship and poverty will be inevitable over the next several decades and Alpha will be the most likely generation to face it and to have children born into similar conditions as the Greatest and the Silent generations. Alpha will be the generation that will face dramatic societal changes in adulthood and face moments that will require sacrifice, hard work and discipline. These are all characteristics they will be forced to learn, without ever inheriting from their parents. They could face the same brief prosperity followed by sudden loss as the Greatest Generation. They may get a small taste of our current prosperity, but the loss of that prosperity will be what inevitably defines who they become.
On a positive note, Alpha will be the generation tasked with colonizing new worlds and exploring the final frontier. They will, if our current technological advancements continue, be the generation that carries the seeds of humanity to other planets and across the Milky Way. Their strength, ingenuity and learned resilience could be what defines them as the most important and pivotal generation in human history.
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