A follow-up on The Invisible Generation

Almost two weeks ago, I posted a blog called "The Invisible Generation" that spoke on how those born between 1977 and 1987 are neither GenX nor Millennial, but rather a generation of their own. What I didn't do at the time, though, was propose what I believe to be generational lines:

The Lost Generation (Born 1880-1900)
The Interbellum Generation (Born 1901-1913)
Greatest Generation (Born 1901-1924)
Silent Generation (Born 1925-1942)
Baby Boomers (Born 1943-1964)
Generation X (Born 1961-1984)
Invisible Generation (Born 1977-1987)
Generation Y (Born 1985-1995)
Millennial (Born 1994-2004)
Generation Z (Born 2001-2011)
Generation α (Born 2010-Today)

If you only want the list of years that make up these generations, now is a good time to stop. If you would like to see what splits up the generations, keep on reading.

Before getting into descriptions, first a generation needs to be defined. A generation can be described as "a body of living beings constituting a single step in the line of descent from an ancestor" or "a group of individuals born and living contemporaneously" [1] - essentially, parents and their children, family groups, people born around the same period of time. It is how we view kinship as we go from one group of humans to the next. While the concept of familial generations does not have much impact outside of the lives of our families, the concept of social generations provide a sense of belonging and identity - the social generation is where each group finds the sense of community. 

Social generations experience events at about the same stage in their life - trends that happen as people reach similar age-related milestones "that members of a particular generation will develop and share similar values, beliefs, and expectations" [2] that unite us. These, of course, are not universal, because different cultures and different regions have different events. The above list of dates was given from the point of view of someone from the United States of America - other cultures and nations will have other events that create major milestones. But there are three key things that help shape generations: parenting, technology, and economics [2]. I won't get into detail for all three of these things for each generation, but I will mention at least one key factor that they experienced in their early lives.

The Lost Generation (Born 1880-1900):

The generation born before the start of the 20th century. The youngest of this generation was old enough to fight in World War I by the end of the war. This generation was shaped by the US population surpassing 75 million for the first time, the assassination of President William McKinley, automobiles becoming more available to the public, Big-Stick Diplomacy, and the formation of the NAACP. The Kingdom of Hawai'i was overthrown, the Republic of Hawai'i was annexed by the United States, and the Territory of Hawaii was created. The term "The Lost Generation" was coined by Gertrude Stein and popularized by Ernest Hemingway, who used it as one of two contrasting epigraphs for his novel, The Sun Also Rises.

States that joined the union:

  • North Dakota (39)
  • South Dakota (40)
  • Montana (41)
  • Washington (42)
  • Idaho (43)
  • Wyoming (44)
  • Utah (45)

Inhabited Territories acquired by the United States:

  • Guam
  • Puerto Rico
  • Territory of Hawai'i
  • American Samoa
  • Oklahoma Territory

Uninhabited Territories acquired by the United States:

  • Serranilla Bank (Disputed)
  • Palmyra Atoll
  • Wake Island

The Interbellum Generation (Born 1901-1913):

This generation marks the beginning of the 20th century. Born too early to be enlisted in WWII (though can be officers and senior NCOs) and too late to even take part in WWI, this generation got to see both the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, experiencing the two major ends of economic trends. Girl Scouts of the USA was established, Teddy Roosevelt was shot and continued giving his speech, Birth of a Nation premiered, and Henry Ford developed the modern assembly line as this generation grew up.

States that joined the union:

  • Oklahoma (46)
  • New Mexico (47)
  • Arizona (48)

Inhabited Territories acquired by the United States:

  • Territory of Alaska

Greatest Generation (Born 1901-1927):

This generation overlaps with the Interbellum Generation - though the Interbellum Generation was too young to be enlisted in WWII, they were not too young to be Officers and senior NCOs. The youngest member of this generation was just barely old enough to enlist in the Armed Forces to participate in WWII.  Birth of a Nation opens, RMS Lusitania sunk, and WWI begins and ends. Prohibition begins, women are granted the right to vote, immigration laws become tougher, and Wyoming elects the first elected female Governor in the United States.

Inhabited Territories acquired by the United States:

  • US Virgin Islands

Silent Generation (Born 1925-1945):

This group was born and grew up during the Great Depression and WWII. They got to experience difficult lives - high unemployment, high poverty, wartime production, fathers and siblings gone overseas for extended periods. The New Deal happens, and the major political parties begin their realignment. This generation got to see peace come out of the wars, and, along with the younger members of the Greatest Generation, gave birth to the Baby Boomers. Also, dark points of American history occurs here - Japanese Internment Camps, Detroit Race Riots, Federal Employee Loyalty Program, Hawai'i being placed under Martial Law, and such. 

Baby Boomers (Born 1943-1964):

The generation that destroyed the economy. Boomers were "the first generation to be raised permissively, the first reared on television and subject to its developmental harms, and the only living group raised in an era of seemingly effortless prosperity" [3] , and blames Millennials for the ills of today. The political realignment continues, and civil rights movements take off. McCarthyism runs rampant, the Korean War happens, the Space Race begins, the Cold War and Vietnam War begins, and President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.

States that joined the union:

  • Alaska (49)
  • Hawaii (50)

Generation X (Born 1961-1984):

GenX was also known as the Baby Busters because of "a period of sharp decrease in the birthrate, as that in the U.S. after 1965" [4] with the Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill being approved for contraceptive use in the United States [5] and more homes having both parents working. Voting age was reduced to 18. Star Trek and MTV came into existence. This generation saw the end of Vietnam, Kent State Shootings, the last mission to the moon, the first space station put in orbit by the United States, and Watergate. 

Invisible Generation (Born 1977-1987):

The combination of GenX and GenY, the Invisible Generation got the worst of both worlds. Read more.

Inhabited Territories acquired by the United States:

  •  Northern Mariana Islands

Generation Y (Born 1985-1995):

This generation got safer neighborhoods and increased school safety problems. Police presence at schools increase. Digital literacy is becoming even more important as computers become accessible to homes and the internet becomes available to the public. The Simpsons air and the Berlin Wall falls. Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager premier. The Cold War ends.

Millennial (Born 1994-2004):

This generation has not known life without computers, much to the dismay of Boomers. The turn of the century is upon them, but they do not have the same ties that MTV, Nickelodeon, and the new waves of 90s music brought to the Gen X, Invisible Generation, and GenY kids - new ways of sending information and connecting are being developed at new rates. Y2K is a concern, 9/11 happens, and the United States starts fearing foreign terrorism instead of domestic terrorism.

Generation Z (Born 2001-2011):

This generation is the post 9/11 generation. Born entirely in the 21st century, they have never known a United States without a Department of Homeland Security. Mobile phones and portable electronics are the norm. This generation is still school-age, ranging from 1st grade to 10th grade. Jobs are going away, but they don't yet comprehend it - they still have a chance, if we change what being a productive member of society means.

Generation α (Born 2010-Today):

The eldest of this generation is only 7 years old. The youngest is still being born. Much like Generation Z, their future is uncertain. Millennials, GenY, and the Invisible Generation has been screwed - let's make things better for Z and α.

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1. “Generation.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/generation. Accessed 25 June 2017.

2. “Generational Breakdown: Info About All of the Generations – GEN HQ.” GEN HQ, genhq.com/faq-info-about-generations/. Accessed 25 June 2017.

3. 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 25 June 2017.

4. “Baby bust.” Dictionary.com, Dictionary.com, www.dictionary.com/browse/baby-buster. Accessed 25 June 2017.

5. Nikolchev, Alexandra. “A brief history of the birth control pill.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 7 May 2010, www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/a-brief-history-of-the-birth-control-pill/480/. Accessed 25 June 2017.