It was always better ‘back in your day,’ and these kids today just don’t get it. It’s a generational thing. Different times, different events, different experiences and therefore a different mindset. Before you go ahead and label, please read these as a guide against ignorance.
Generation X (born 1956–1975)
This generation includes the final stragglers of the ‘baby boomers’ who were largely influenced by the social and economic downturns of the Second World War and political assassinations of Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Reverend Martin Luther King. Growing up, some referred to them as the ‘lost’ generation who, historically, were the first to report being raised with a lack of solid traditions. The high divorce and daycare rates may have been the exacerbating factors for their high levels of skepticism and distrust: individualism dominates collectivism. Lastly, they have been sworn in by consumerism—although Ferris Bueller encourages them that a person should not believe in an -ism, they should believe in themselves.
Generation Y (born 1976–1995)
Most popularly noted as the ‘millennials’, they represent a contradiction at heart—civic-minded and self-absorbed. With the rise of the personal computer (thanks to Bill and Steve), a technology-centered group was born. This generation is known to ‘have the world at their fingertips’, or so the cliché goes. Exposed to the tragic terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers and the events leading up to the Oklahoma City bombings, like their parents, they are also driven by a general lack of trust for institutions. On the flip side of this, change is on their agenda. They are socially active and have an increased appetite for more social and ethnic inclusion. They perhaps see higher education as a means for this as they are staying in school longer and thus entering the job market later.
Generation Z (born 1996–2015)
Much can be said about this generation yet the exact precision to which this script will play out is difficult to tell as they are only beginning to enter the workforce, with some just graduating from college—others from diapers. This group lives at a time where FANG companies Facebook Apple, Netflix, and Google are akin to the large automotive firms, such as GM and Ford, who were both the dominant and treasured employers in previous generations. They have been exposed to the perils of an unregulated capitalist system during the wake of the U.S. financial crisis and cannot remember a time before social media growing up fully-immersed in virtual communication. Much can be said about the fifteen minutes of fame Andy Warhol alluded to as video and blogging sites have allowed talent to be exposed and rise faster than ever. Oh, and multi-billion-dollar start-ups are a thing.