Daily Archives:September 2nd, 2023

Generation game

I hear these phrases like ‘Millennials’ and ‘Generation Y’ in the media and realise I have no idea what they mean. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have kids, and so don’t know which pigeonhole the tabloids and marketing agencies want them to occupy!

I know roughly when ‘baby-boomers’ were born, but that was a phrase invented in the seventies to describe a genuine phenomenon visible in historical data. And I presume ‘millennials’ are people born around the turn of the millennium. But when did it become trendy to label other generations? And who decides on the boundaries and the letters? (I suspect the culprits are the same people who tell us that this is “International Year of the Aubergine“ and things like that.)

I have no more idea of which ‘generation’ I fall into than I do about my supposed star sign, and I suspect they are almost equally fictitious constructs. I’m guessing someone invented ‘Generation X’ because, while it was easy to say ‘grew up in the fifties’, it’s just too silly to say ‘born in the noughties’ (or whatever Generation X actually means). We really don’t have very good words for the last couple of decades. It’ll be easier in a little while when we can talk about a ‘twenties kid’. And if (as I assume), Gen X and Y (and I think there’s even a Z now) all came after Millennials, then they can’t really be generations, can they? There’s not enough time for them to have 20-30 years each… At least they’ve run out of alphabet now, so perhaps they’ll need to start using some meaningful names again soon.

Still, I was distressed to see the single-letter-generation-labelling game going on even in reputable newspapers recently, so I’d better go and find out what they’re supposed to mean, and what unicode character they’re going to adopt for my great-nephews/nieces expected in the spring. Perhaps it’ll be an emoji. I like to think they’ll be part of ‘Generation 😁’.

Yes, I’d better go and look it up. Otherwise I risk being relegated to that no-man’s land of the ‘post-boomer-pre-wikipedias’…

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser