Which event made the most impression in your life?
- MTV debuts
- Grunge was fashionable
- American Idol
- Paris Hilton in jail
The answer depends on your age or which generation you relate to most. Each generation is shaped by events, developments and trends of its time. And the media plays a big part in transforming and shaping the perception of generations.
Generation X: the letter "X" originally suggested the ambiguous, misunderstood, disheartened generation. The ambiguity has since been clearly defined, so its alternative name Thirteenth Generation (we are the thirteenth generation since the founding of the country) should be more appropriately used. Gen X can be described as growing up with MTV, Pac Man and The Breakfast Club. Pressed between two large generations of the Baby Boomers and Gen Y, Gen X is also characterized with having the middle child syndrome - always being ignored and underappreciated. Like sibling rivalry, with Boomers as the self-righteous eldest and Millennials as the pampered baby with a sense of entitlement. The media has focused a lot of its attention on the Baby Boomers entering into retirement, social security problems, health issues and the rise of biotech. With even more spotlight, the media is fascinated with tabloids of today’s youth, their lifestyle, their relationships, and more of the same monotony. Gen X are feeling overlooked and invisible. So we have a generational chip on our shoulders, but how about coverage on success of a X turning 40, X icons, or X as a technologically influential generation? Is it too much to ask for more face time, more visibility, more recognition?
Generation Y: the offsprings of the Baby Boomers make up of today's teens and twenty-somethings. They love fame, celebrities, technology, brand names, and six degrees of separation through social networks. Somewhat ironic, Millennials inherited and benefited from the creation of Gen X platforms such as Google, YouTube, MySpace, and Amazon which are largely responsible for classifying this generation as the Internet Generation. This is a large population of 76 million people who are technically savvy and can be powerful because of their ability to connect to each other. With their sense of empowerment, they demand “I want what I want when, where and how I want it.” Quick access to information, to communication equate to instant gratification. This generation’s easy access to a plethora of information can be an overload. This trend will continue to a great degree onto Generation Z.
Generation Z: the future of our tomorrow who are predominantly the children of Gen X. This is a very young generation with the oldest at 12 years old. Despite their young age, the characteristics of this generation are quite apparent. They are exposed to technology very early in their lives and most already have an online identity. They are considered the most stressful generation for their involvement in too many extra-curricular activities – piano lesson, tap dancing, swimming, soccer practice, singing class, etc. With the rigid schedule of daily activities, they sometime forget to be children.
There is no doubt that each generational difference is marked uniquely. The previous generation lays the path for the next. Of course, conflicts between generations are commonplace as one generation expects conformity from the other generation. This would indubitably make our relationships less complicated, but that is not reality. The reality is that generational differences should be embraced, accepted and respected.
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