The Invisible Generation

Depending on whom one asks, a person born between 1977 and 1987 is either a member of Generation X or of the Millennial Generation - different lists of generations will give different dates. NPR gives the following list as the American Generations Timeline:

  • GI Generation (Born 1901-1924) [Note 2]
  • Silent Generation (Born 1925-1942)
  • Baby Boomers (Born 1943-1964)
  • Generation X (Born 1965-1979) [Note 3]
  • Millennials (Born 1980-2000) [Note 1]
  • Generation Z (Born 2001-2013)

NPR also points out that "though there is a consensus on the general time period for generations, there is not an agreement on the exact year that each generation begins and ends" [1], which can be seen if one searches for generational lists. Though Baby Boomers and earlier (including The Lost Generation (Born 1880-1915) and The Interbellum Generation (Born 1901-1913 [3] [4]) have fairly static dates across the different lists, Generation X and beyond does not. So, you may end up with dates that are somewhere in the following ranges:

  • Generation X (Born 1965-1984)
  • Generation Y/Millennial (Born 1977-2004)
  • Generation Z/iGeneration (Born 1996-Today)
  • Generation Alpha/Generation α (Born 2010-Today)

I argue that those born between 1977 and 1987 are neither a part of GenX or GenY, but rather the Invisible Generation. The people born in the age range with all of the disadvantages of both GenX and GenY, but none of the advantages. GenXers were raised to believe that getting a college education would guarantee a career because that was true for the Boomers. GenYs are seen as narcissistic and and entitled, snowflakes who were given participation trophies as children and are not willing to work. However, GenXers had to learn to adapt to technology, while GenYs are unable to find employment because Boomers and GenXers have the majority of the jobs.

Those in the Invisible Generation are those who are old enough to have received the college education that was expected to make life better, but are young enough to end up having it become a requirement to find the basic of all jobs. The Invisible Generation was born into the early stages of modern technology and has been at the forefront of each new innovation, but has at the same time seen jobs taken away due to new technologies and Boomers ruining the economy [Note 4]. The Invisible Generation, along with GenY, are stuck catching the blame from Boomers for the shrinking middle class and being left with a job market that is ultra-saturated with higher education degrees [9], but is old enough to be in the management positions that GenX holds if the Boomers would (or could) retire.

And so the Invisible Generation is there, in between GenX and GenY. But that generation will likely be unrecognized and continue to be invisible.


Notes:

1. Personally, I hate the term Millennial - I much prefer the term Generation Y. Part of it is because I grew up with the term Generation Y, whereas Millennial was first coined in 1991 [1] [2] and became widespread more recently. The term Millennial has all sorts of negative associations: entitled, narcissistic, overly dependent on technology. However, Generation Y does not have that connotation.

2. Most people know this generation as "The Greatest Generation," named after Tom Brokaw's book The Greatest Generation [5] [6].

3. Generation X was initially known as the "Baby Busters" because of the dropping fertility rates after the Baby Boomers [1].

4. I say that Boomers ruined the economy as a blanket term - not all individuals share the same traits, but rather it is a common trait as a society. Boomers were born into a period where they were the first to have a television in the house, became more susceptible to consumerism, grew up into being the ones to make poor policy decisions [7], creating a society with higher education costs, crumbling infrastructure, and economic mediocrity [8].


References:

1. Raphelson, Samantha. “From GIs To Gen Z (Or Is It iGen?): How Generations Get Nicknames.” NPR, NPR, 6 Oct. 2014, www.npr.org/2014/10/06/349316543/don-t-label-me-origins-of-generational-names-and-why-we-use-them. Accessed 14 June 2017.

2. “Generation Naming: What Came Before Millennials and Founders.” Time, Time, 1 Dec. 2015, time.com/4131982/generations-names-millennials-founders/. Accessed 14 June 2017.

3. Robinson, Michael T. “The Generations.” The Generations - Which Generation are You?, www.careerplanner.com/Career-Articles/Generations.cfm. Accessed 14 June 2017.

4. “Generation.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 June 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation. Accessed 14 June 2017.

5. “Greatest Generation.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 June 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greatest_Generation. Accessed 14 June 2017.

6. “G.I. Generation.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 June 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G.I._Generation. Accessed 14 June 2017.

7. Berman, Jillian. “Baby boomers ruined America, according to this Generation X author.” MarketWatch, 4 June 2017, www.marketwatch.com/story/baby-boomers-ruined-america-according-to-this-generation-x-author-2017-03-10. Accessed 14 June 2017.

8. Gibney, Bruce Cannon. “How the baby boomers destroyed everything - The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com, 26 Feb. 2017, www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2017/02/26/how-baby-boomers-destroyed-everything/lVB9eG5mATw3wxo6XmDZFL/story.html. Accessed 14 June 2017.

9. Balkin, Alexander S. “Baby boomers ruined America: Why blaming millennials is misguided — and annoying.” Salon, 20 Oct. 2014, www.salon.com/2014/10/20/baby_boomers_ruined_america_why_blaming_millennials_is_misguided_and_annoying/. Accessed 14 June 2017.