In 1991, William Strauss and Neil Howe wrote the book Generations. It was recognized then and today as remarkable. The authors posit the history of America as a succession of generational biographies, beginning in 1584 and proceeds to the children of 1991. Their theory was that each generation belongs to one of four types, and that these types repeat sequentially in a fixed pattern.
In a (now) fascinating passage in the Preface, they discuss the Boomer Generation, saying (remember it’s 1991) that “You may feel some disappointment in the Dan Quayles and Donald Trumps who have been among your first agemates to climb life’s pyramid, along with some danger in the prospect of Boomer Presidents…farther down the road.” Later in the same paragraph: “Perhaps you already sense that your Boomer peers, for all their narcissism and parallel play, will someday leave a decisive mark on civilization quite unlike anything they have done up to now.” Spooky huh, as we embark on a Trump Presidency?
Generations, even that early, suggests that Millennials will be a uniquely impactful generation, mostly in a positive way, much like what they call the “GI” Generation and most of us call the “Greatest Generation.” Well… they fall in the same ordinal slot as the Greatest Generation given the following dates of birth for each generation: Greatest Generation (1901-24); Silent Generation ((1925-43); Boomer Generation (1943-60); Gen-X (1961-81); and Millennials (1982-2000). They have Boomers starting earlier than the traditional view, a position I very much agree with having been born in 1945.
Earlier this month, an article appeared in the Boston Globe titled Millennials Aren’t Lazy, They’re Workaholics. That didn’t quite fit with my impression, so I started digging a bit. I of course went on line and found a definition in the Urban Dictionary:
Special little snowflake.
Born between 1982 and 1994 this generation is something special, cause Mom and Dad and their 5th grade teacher Mrs. Winotsky told them so. Plus they have a whole shelf of participation trophies sitting at home so it has to be true.
They believe themselves to be highly intelligent, the teachers and lecturers constantly gave them “A”‘s in order to keep Mom and Dad from complaining to the Dean. Unfortunately, nobody explained to them the difference between an education and grade inflation so they tend to demonstrate poor spelling and even poorer grammar.