As I continue to age, it seems that the differences in generations are becoming more vast each year. Even the definition of “generation” has changed.
The Greatest Generation is generally considered to be those born from 1901 to 1924 – a 23-year range. My generation of Baby Boomers ranges from 1946 to 1964, or 18 years.
The newest term, I’ve just learned, is for Generation Alpha (the first to be born entirely in the 21st century), which includes those born from 2013 through now, and continuing to those yet to be born up to 2025 – a mere 12-year range.
Recently, I’ve been hearing and seeing more and more about Millennials, born in 1981 through 1996 – perhaps because they have now become adults. Britney Spears is a Millennial, as is Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Serena Williams, Prince William and Kate Middleton. The youngest of the generation are now 25. They have certainly made their marks, haven’t they?
I’ve been paying attention to some of these young adults because they, and the next bunch, Gen Z (the elders being 24), seem to be suddenly in abundance from favorite TV shows to my playlist, from the coffee shop to … well, everywhere.
For instance, last year, as we all began to hunker down, part of the pandemic response in our house was to find and watch old episodes of TV series that we had enjoyed.
One of those was (and still is) the reality show “Survivor,” which started in 2000 and drops a group of contestants (called “castaways”) into a jungle or deserted island to fend for themselves. Tribes compete against one another in physical and mental challenges – and every week someone gets voted off.
Currently, we are watching season 33, filmed in 2016, titled Millennials vs. Gen Xers. It pits young folks aged (at the time) about 18 to 27 against middle-aged adults aged about 33 to 50.
It’s fascinating to watch the differences in behavior, attitudes, work ethic, empathy, and of course, language. These generally typical qualities are neither good nor bad – just different. Everyone is eager to win the million dollars.
Another show I’ve watched is “Glow Up,” a British competition for makeup artists (MUAs) – chockful of Millennials. They have (what appears to me to be) some outlandish yet captivating ideas about using the human face to create works of art. I can’t imagine going out in public in some of their designs, but that’s because I’m too old for such craziness. Talk about making marks!
Yet another series is “Hell’s Kitchen, which in its 20th season this year features “Young Guns,” with 18 chefs between the ages of 21 and 24. Even Gordon Ramsey seems captivated by the creativity of these young competitors. I am too.
Truth be told, my fascination with younger people started with the two young men I am closest to, our two sons (one Millennial, one Gen Z). I’ve learned some new lingo (and learned that I am not “hip” but I have done things that are “dope”), discussed cryptocurrency, discovered a delightful new way to brew a cup of excellent coffee, and embraced their yearning for adventure and fast cars.
My parents, of the Greatest Generation, always told me “Youth is wasted on the young,” but now I’m not so sure. Young people continue to amaze me.