Which Generation Are You From?

Cultural generations

Each of us are defined by the time in which we live. We're all subject to the major events and technological advances defining our times. Some of us are old, and some of us are younger. Our influences are different, but one thing, however, remains unchanged: We're all bound together in a web of intermingling cultural generations.

In this slideshow, we'll take a look at some generations past and present and examine some of their defining characteristics. They're all different and all rather interesting. So, buckle up, it's time to take a journey through history.

Note: all generation dates are approximations. Nothing is perfect ... trust us we're the dictionary.


WATCH: 5 Words To Describe Your Generation

Lost Generation

Let's start at the 20th century (and a little before). This generation was known as the Lost Generation. They were born between the mid-1880s to 1900. As such, they were the group that went on to serve in WWI, and the term Lost Generation is actually a reference to that ... conflict. It was coined by Gertrude Stein in reference to the postwar malaise felt by many veterans returning home. It was then popularized by Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises.

Owing to their war experience, the Lost Generation were understandably loose on rules. They preferred a fast-paced, freewheeling lifestyle, and they're also the people who brought us the Roaring '20s, prohibition, speakeasies, bathtub gin, gangsters, jazz, and flappers.

Culturally, this generation's members had a rather large impact as well. They were the famed expatriates of Paris in the 1920s. In fact, you're probably familiar with many of the artists from your high-school English curriculum. Unlike the upcoming generations on this list, the Lost Generation is now completely gone ... sorry for that downer. It's last remaining member died in April of 2018. Their legacy, on the other hand, will last forever.

The G.I. Generation

The G.I. Generation is now the oldest living generation. Its members were born between the early-1900s and the mid-1920s, and they are quite obviously named as such because they came of age during WWII. You might also know them by the name of the Greatest Generation, a moniker bestowed on them by journalist Tom Brokaw for a 1998 book of the same title.

As children and young adults, the G.I. Generation suffered the indignities of the Great Depression. Many of them rebuilt the country during the New Deal. And, as an encore, they went on to beat back fascism and quite literally save the world. Not bad for a single group of men and women, right?

If the dates for inclusion into the G.I. Generation seem large, that's because they are. But, included in the G.I. Generation is a subset generation known as the Interbellum Generation—many of its members were considered both too young to fight in WWI and too old to serve in WWII. However, the reason the Interbellum Generation is included in the G.I. Generation is because WWII was all-encompassing, and many of the members of the Interbellum Generation served in some military capacity, regardless of age.

Silent Generation

Born between the mid-1920s and the early-1940s, the Silent Generation is one of the lesser-known generations in recent history. They also happen to be one of the more contradictory.

They are the children of Lost Generation parents. Many were born during the Great Depression and fought in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. As such, they are said to have developed a worldview shaped by the hardships of their youth. Inherently, they understood life to be uncertain, so they were driven to be responsible, spendthrift, keep-your-head-down adults who stayed their entire careers at the same company. What's interesting is that they came of age during the post-war years between the 1950s and early 1960s when jobs were abundant and wages were relatively high. Given that financial situation, they were also given the name the Lucky Few. A bit ironic, isn't it?

By and large, the Silent Generation got their name because they were, well, silent. As young adults they experienced McCarthyism firsthand. Thus, they tended not to be involved much in activism, preferring a career-focused, go-along-to-get-along attitude toward civic engagement. Ironic again is that some of the biggest names in the Civil Rights movement happened to be members of the Silent Generation, Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, Cesar Chavez, and Malcom X, to name a few.

Baby Boomers

They are quite possibly the most talked about of the generations—the Baby Boomers. Born between the mid-1940's and the early-1960's, the Boomers are the children of the G.I. Generation, and up to that point, they were the largest demographic generation in history. And, there's a lot to say about them ... so here we go.

They grew up in the shadow of the Cold War and the Vietnam War, and many are old enough to remember the assassination of JFK. These terrible events led the Boomers to take their now-famous stance of rebelling against the values of their parents. In doing so, they brought us rock and roll, free love, Woodstock, hippie culture, women's and civil rights, environmental issues, and civic engagement on a massive scale.

The Baby Boomers are sometimes referred to as the Me Generation ... they fervently believe they are different from other generations. This assertion is characterized by both a distrust of older generations ("Never trust anyone over 30.") as well as an inability to allow younger generations to move to the forefront of civic leadership (See: 2016 election candidates Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton).

As a generation, the Boomers are enormously successful (See: Apple, Microsoft). They attribute that success to their fundamental uniqueness as a generation. Sometimes though, they fail to attribute any of their achievements to the prosperous post-war years that allowed them to access cheap college education and a generally positive job market.

Within the Baby Boomer Generation, there is also a sub-generation. This group is known as Generation Jones. Members of Generation Jones represent the second wave of Boomer children, born between the late-1950s and mid-1960s. This group is noteworthy due to their complaints that their older siblings got to reap the true benefits of the Baby Boomer Generation while they were left to pick up the scraps.

Generation X

Born between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s, Generation X is the next cohort on our list. They are largely the children of the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers, and like their parents, the members of Generation X are slightly misunderstood.

As a group, Gen Xers were the first group to grow up with both parents working full-time jobs. Thus, they were given the moniker latchkey kids. This status led Gen Xers to develop a a fiercely independent streak that carried on well into adulthood.

Gen Xers were the last group whose membership came of age during the Cold War. They also had the unfortunate timing to grow up during the AIDS epidemic. Culturally, Generation X is also known as the MTV generation. These attributes, along with the later emergence of grunge culture led critics to label the group as disaffected, cynical, and almost entirely uninterested in growing up.

In later years, that assertion would prove demonstrably false, and like their Silent Generation parents, Generation X proved to be astute entrepreneurs. As the first generational contingent to begin regularly using computers, Gen Xers were responsible for much of the tech industry powering the economy through the '90s and beyond, Jeff Bezos of Amazon or Sergey Brin of Google being prime examples.

Millennials

Let's be honest this next generation is the only generation that matters. They are the children of the Baby Boomers ... which means we have a ton to say about these folks as well—read on. They are the most diverse generation. They are now the largest demographic group, and that of course means we're talking about the Millennials. (Also known as Generation Y.)

Born between mid-1980s to the late-1990s, they have taken over the Boomers mantle of the most widely dissected generation in history. By and large, most Millennials can't remember much before the Cold War ended. Also, they can't recall a period before computers were a regular feature in homes. They were largely raised as the internet and tech progressed. They remember chatrooms and AOL, and  Millennials are behind many of today's social-networking sites. Critically, Millennials' reliance on technology has elicited a reputation as being self-entitled, requiring instant gratification, and being lazy.

In that regard, the Millennials also possess a subset generation in their ranks. Born between the late-1970s and the mid-1980s, these members are known as the Xennials. They are named as such because they share commonalities with Gen Xer's, mainly that they can clearly remember a time when calling a friend instead of texting was common practice.

Millennials will one day become the largest voting bloc in the nation, and in increasing numbers they are voting more than their peers in generations past. They have a reputation of being liberal, overwhelmingly supporting issues such as same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana. On the flip side however, they are also prone to excessive bouts of political correctness. They quite clearly remember 9/11, and many came of age during the height of the Great Recession of the mid to late-2000s. This has had a profound effect on the Millennial Generation. Employment has been tough and many were left with a feeling of being slighted, having been told that attaining a college degree, which they do in high numbers, was the ticket to a prosperous middle-class existence. Obviously, this proved not the case and many Millennials have found themselves living with their parents long after they would have otherwise hoped. Life's tough.

Generation Z

Born between the late 1990s to 2010 as the children of Gen Xer's, it's Generation Z. Obviously there is not much data to date on this group. However, what is remarkable is that many consider Generation Z to be the first true digital natives.

This contingent was born during the complete onset of the digitized world. They're seamlessly integrated with technology, and they can't remember a time before smartphones existed. They spend more time with screens than any generation before them (Bad, good? We don't know.), and given their digital literacy, they are more comfortable than previous generations with the pace of technological advancement. They’re perceived to be excellent multitaskers. Socially and politically, they’ve been referred to as “millennials on steroids,” exhibiting many of the same progressive beliefs regarding globalization, inclusion, technology, and religion.

They came of age post-9/11 and post-Great Recession. Thus, they understand the world's inherent difficulties. And, given their relative youth, they have the chance to create a remarkable future. They've seen hardships in the many, many school shootings they've experienced and have been forced to become activists for themselves at young ages.

So, basically, if you're reading this Gen Z'ers: please help us.

Generation Alpha?

Generation Alpha may be our newest generation ... the name hasn't been completely settled yet. Futurist, demographer, and TEDx speaker Mark McCrindle came up with the moniker. Guess we ran out of letters in the English alphabet.

Business Insider and McCrindle report that 2.5 million Alphas are born around the globe every week. And, these kids will be the most intwined with digital technology than any before. They'll grow up using tech as part of their daily routine, inherently incorporating it into every part of their lives. Obviously, little is known about how this will affect Alphas or what's to come for them, but we have another 15 years to watch and see what happens before a new generation breaks onto the scene.

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