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Generation Names

As defined by times, trends, and technologies

By Lana V LynxPublished 5 months ago 5 min read
Generations from the Greatest to Alpha in one family; image by DALL-E

Whoever came up with the categorization and labeling of contemporary generations was a Boomer. Why do I say so?

First, they only gave names to the generations of the 20th century, as if people didn’t exist before or as if every new century must start from scratch with their own new names. The first named generation (born before 1900) was completely Lost on them (a lot of its males were also lost in WWI).

Second, they showed the due respect and reverence to the two generations before them - their parents and grandparents - by calling them The Greatest Generation (the ones who were born during the greatest industrial growth and WWI, did great things, won WWII and never complained) or The Silent Generation (born during the Great Depression and WWII).

Third, they called the generation that came after them Gen X, from Generation NeXt, as it was a great unknown to them. People always assign a greater degree of uncertainty to the things and phenomena from the future than from the past and present. I myself belong to the Generation X, and it has some other names as well - Baby Bust because of lower birth rate compared to Baby Boomers, Generation Pepsi, Generation Pop for the rise of pop culture, and some others.

Commonly used categorization of generations in the Western world

The Boomer-centric view of generations created a lot of confusion, including the fact that there were only two letters of the alphabet left - Y and Z - to name those coming after Gen X. Thanks, Boomers, for we now have to use the Greek alphabet.

We called the new hatchlings, coming in after Gen Z, Alpha. I don’t think their kids will be thrilled to be called Beta though, suggesting that they are only a dull copy of the ones before them. So they’d probably prefer to skip to Gamma or Delta, which is an even cooler name. But that’ll create more confusion down the line. Again, thanks, Boomer.

Recently I watched Jimmy Kimmel's interview with Jodie Foster where they were discussing the younger Z generation and Kimmel said, “I don’t know why we skipped Y and went straight to Z.” As a GenXer, Kimmel always refers to the generation after him Millennials, but in fact they ARE the Generation Y, for Y2K (remember the Y2K problem when we were afraid that the computers will majorly screw up in Year 2000 because they were not programmed beyond 1999 for the calendars and other timed things?) was associated with the new millennium when the Millennials would be coming of age. The Millennials are so well-known by that name that people often forget that they are also Generation Y.

The rise to adulthood of the Generation Z that follows the Millennials aptly corresponded with the rise of Zoom as a new technology, so they are often referred to as Zoomers. Zoomers make a lot of jokes about Boomers. Remember, "OK, Boomer?" - that's probably the best joke and meme that illustrates generational gaps.

I am in communication, so for me it is much easier to remember the differences between various generations by media and communication technologies that rose with them and defined them. Here's my brief cheat sheet for this:

- the last of the Lost Generation and the Greatest Generation saw the rise of movies as new technology. They grew up with movies and saw them move from silent to talkies, from B&W to color, and from obscure short pieces of content people gawked at in the Nickelodeons to full-length features that told comprehensive stories. Gramophone and vinyl records was the second major technology that defined them;

- the Silent Generation grew up with radio that went from a military ship-to-shore communication (remember Titanic?) to commercial public technology in 1922. The Silents have a special affinity to radio as they were growing up with the entire families glued to radio sets for the news, sports, music and other content. Radio was one of the fastest-spreading technologies, having reached the level of universal penetration or saturation (when every household had a radio) within only a few years;

- the Baby Boomers grew up with television as a new technology, and its growth was also unprecedented: within 10 years after introduction of TV in 1946, about 90% of the US households had a set; it's worth noting that as a technology TV was available much earlier, in 1933, but WWII halted its development because TV sets required materials for production that were needed for the ammunition;

- Gen X of course saw the development of personal computers and the birth of Internet and World Wide Web. I still feel that I was privileged to witness how Internet grew from the platform for a few companies with resources to a global network without which we cannot imagine our lives today as everything is powered by the Internet-based technologies;

- Millennials witnessed democratization of the Internet and digitization of content accompanied and facilitated by the development of mobile and wireless technologies. This is the generation that still remembers the dial-up and dosaged Internet consumption in the families where the Internet would work from a phone landline to leaping to broadband access and the beginning of social media;

- Gen Z was the first generation that did not know the world without the Internet and grew up with mobile devices, starting with portable DVD players (my son loved his on our long drives and flights) and ending with ipads and smartphones; they also saw the boom (and sometimes bust - who remembers MySpace now?) of various social media and augmented/virtual reality and streaming technologies;

- Generation Alpha is a totally new type of a human animal living in a completely and fully saturated information environment. Some research studies have shown that because they are spending so much time with information devices, they are starting to develop an extra neck bone to support the head (humans are incredibly resilient and adaptive) as well as have sharper vision for smaller devices. They will be probably defined by the Artificial Intelligence technologies.

Now, even with this brief description an observant reader will realize that we are currently living in the age of exponential growth of information and communication technologies: in the last 40 years we have achieved the growth that is many times higher and broader than everything that was developed since 1451 when Gutenberg started the mass information revolution with his printing press. Can you imagine what the future holds?

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About the Creator

Lana V Lynx

Avid reader and occasional writer of satire and short fiction. For my own sanity and security, I write under a pen name. My books: Moscow Calling - 2017 and President & Psychiatrist

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Comments (8)

  • L.C. Schäfer5 months ago

    To answer your question: no, I cannot.

  • Novel Allen5 months ago

    I think I wrote a piece on this but never posted it. Such an interesting conversation.

  • Totally entertaining read. I hope to read more pieces like this one from you. This was exceptional.

  • Hannah Moore5 months ago

    Exciting times! I'm hopeful for fantastic things and fearful for something else.

  • Crazy and Inspiring times we live in!

  • Kelsey Clarey5 months ago

    Great read! I love watching my family members try to figure out what generation my cousins and I all are. (I was born in 95 and the next cousin was born in 96, so we're at the very end of the Millenials, most of the others are Gen Z, and the youngest two are Alpha I guess. The older relatives seem to think all of us except the youngest are Z though XD)

  • I'm a Millennial and oh God I remember that dial up Internet! Hahahahahaha! Can't believe there's a whole generation that doesn't know a time before the Internet!

  • Shirley Belk5 months ago

    Excellent read!

Lana V LynxWritten by Lana V Lynx

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