Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

atkins-bookshelf-cultureWhen Roger Daltry sang what could arguably be called his generation’s anthem, “Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation,” it was clear that he didn’t want a bunch of oldies dissing the Baby Boomers: “People try to put us down / Just because we get around / Things they do look awful cold / I hope I die before I get old.” That famous Who song certainly alludes to the fact that a generation’s name can be a compliment or a real put-down (consider the Lost Generation or the Me Generation). Demographers and sociologists see very specific values and trends — the good and the bad — associated with each generation.

Although every generation has been named, analyzed, and studied since the mid-1800s, the race is on to name the generation that follows Millennials. Neil Howe, one of the most influential demographers, comments on the challenge of naming a generation that is still in kindergarten and has not revealed its true identity: “No one knows who will name the next generation. We’ve resisted the temptation to name the next generation until we think the Millennial Generation has run its course.” It is up to that generation to earn a name that it can be proud of. Stay tuned… 

Names assigned to generations, their specific time period, and the individuals who coined the terms are listed below:

Missionary Generation
Born between 1860 to 1882
Coined by demographers William Strauss and Neil Howe

The Lost Generation
Born between 1883 to 1900
Coined by American author Ernest Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises (1926)

The Greatest Generation
Born between 1901 to 1924
Coined by journalist Tom Brokaw in The Greatest Generation (1998)

The Silent Generation
Born between 1925 to 1942
Coined by a journalist in Time magazine (November 5, 1591)

Baby Boomers
Born between 1943 to 1960
Coined by a journalist in Washington Post (January 23, 1970)

Generation X
Born between 1961 to 1980
Popularized by Douglas Coupland’s Generation X (1991)

The Millennials or Generation Y or Generation Me
Born between 1980 to 2000
The Millennials was coined by historians William Strauss and Neil Howe in The History of America’s Future (1991)
Generation Y was coined by a journalist in Advertising Age (August 1993)
Generation Me was coined by Jean Twenge in Generation Me (2006)

Proposed name: iGeneration or Homeland Generation
Born after 2000
iGeneration coined by Jean Twenge in Generation Me (2006)
Homeland Generation coined by Neil Howe from a website contest (2005)

Read related posts: What do Teenagers Spend
Education Reform
Impact of Mobile Technology

For further reading: “Talkin’ ‘Bout Their Generations” by Andrea Ford and Eric Dodds, Newsweek (May 20, 2013)

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