Generations expert Amy Lynch tries very hard not to be the generations police. Some of her best friends are Xennials.
The End of Big Bucket Gens
No doubt you’ve heard a Big Buckets generations speech. It’s about Silents, Booms, Gen X and Millennials as idealists, skeptics, pragmatists and so on. When we’re talking about 100s of millions of people over decades of time, some generalities are inevitable.
The problem is that these traditional buckets gloss over the rich diversity within every generation. Big buckets lead to simplistic stereotypes.
So, let’s turn the tables on big buckets.
Generational identity is simply that – one aspect of identity. Better yet, one aspect of self-identity, a way you explain yourself to yourself. Only you can really say where you fall along the generations timeline.
These days, the nuanced experiences and characteristics of generational sub-groups are in the spotlight.
For instance, there’s the emergence of Xennials, a group at the tail end of Gen X, sometimes called the Oregon Trail gen. This splinter generation makes sense if you think about technology. Xennials had analog childhoods, but a digital youth. They learned to write cursive and code, too. And assuming the technology we learn early in our lives changes the way we work and think, Xennials aren’t early Gen Xers (they used dial telephones), and they aren’t life-lived-online Millenials, either. BTW, some Millennials identify as Xennials simply because Millennials get so much bad press. Good strategy; Gen X should let you in.
Millennials: First Wave and Recessionists
Another important distinction is between First Wave Millennials and Recessionists. While early Millennials went to school and started careers when the economy was booming, Recessionists entered the workplace during the bank crisis and crash of 2007-2008. Many found themselves with high student debt, without jobs and (it wasn't a joke) sleeping on their parents’ couches. These days, having put off home ownership, marriage and kids because they can't afford them, Recessionsts have become realistic and financially conservative. Also, pretty skeptical. When they learned that Pluto isn't even a planet, that was pretty much it for trust in authority.
*Kudos to the researchers at Bridgeworks for documenting these Millennial sub groups.
After years as an urban legend, the 2nd half of the Boomer generation has taken on a clear identity. Jonsers witnessed the activism of the 1960 as kids rather than as participants. Then Gen Jones went to work during the economic downturn of the 1970s. They never shared in the prosperity no-holds-barred growth of the 1960s economy. In fact, the Jones name may come from always jonesing for the prosperity of first wave Boomers. You'll find Gen Jones more realistic than First-Wave Boomers.
Finally, I want to propose one more gen group. If you live on the cusps of generations and don’t feel a part of any, not even sub-groups, then you could be a generations Denyer. It used to be that most Denyers were Gen X, but an increasing number of them are Gen Z -- too diverse a generation, they argue, to be a generation at all. I can respect that. I just wish I knew where to put you on the chart.
are you finally finding your gen? Let's Continue the conversation below. Don't forget to add the generation you call home.