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Generations+X%2C+Y%2C+and+Z+give+their+take+on+generational+stereotypes+at+Argyle+High+School+on+Oct.+18+
Generations X, Y, and Z give their take on generational stereotypes at Argyle High School on Oct. 18

Generations X, Y, and Z give their take on generational stereotypes at Argyle High School on Oct. 18

©The Talon News | Sarah Crowder

©The Talon News | Sarah Crowder

Generations X, Y, and Z give their take on generational stereotypes at Argyle High School on Oct. 18

Sarah Crowder, Reporter

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“Baby boomers are entitled”, “Millennials want everything handed to them”, “Gen Z kids are addicted to their cellphones”.  Headlines with eye-catching phrases like these are thrown around constantly. People are being defined by their generation, stereotyped and roped in by a title they share with millions of others, with some the only thing they have in common being their age. These generational labels and stereotypes have become hyperbolic and little more than clickbait and marketing ploys.

“I think that generational stereotypes are just a way to lay blame on someone,” sophomore and member of Gen Z Katy Atkins said. “It’s more of a media term instead of an actual way to divide ages. They put these negative qualities on people based on when they were born.”

 

Generation X

Gen x, sometimes referred to as the “forgotten generation” encompasses those born between 1965 and 1980. This generation is sandwiched between the far larger and more vocal Baby Boomers and Millennials.

“I believe there is only 17 million of us,” AP/Dual U.S. History teacher and Gen Xer Sharon Romero said. “We were defined as being a bunch of stoned slackers who will never amount to anything.”

Despite the majority of this generation being in their 40s, they aren’t known for much besides being skeptical former latchkey kids.

“We tend to not vote as much as other generations, so we don’t have as much impact politically,” Romero said. “If we have impacted politics it’s been in a negative sense because we don’t have a voice. There are a few of us who have achieved pretty outstanding things, [but] I think we’re still waiting for our moment in time, we haven’t had it yet. We’re in between Baby Boomers and Millennials and we’re so small, it’s a weird time.”

Growing up in the 70s and 80s before the technological revolution means that Generation X used to know a far different world.

“We came of age during the Reagan administration,” Romero said. “I think that had a huge impact on all of us. We listened to rock and roll, punk rock, and grunge in the early 90s. We all wore flannel and went to Nirvana and Pearl Jam concerts. I think we kind of fell through the cracks because there were so few of us and we were between two vastly different generations that I think we kind of have elements of both, we’re not really clearly defined.”

 

Generation Y

More commonly known as Millennials,  members of Generation Y were born between 1981 and 1995. They are typically portrayed as tech-savvy, lazy, and childish, even with most well into adulthood.

“[The stereotypes about our generation] are awful,” Millenial and AP World History teacher Matthew Woody said. “I am to understand we enjoy avocado toast. I am to understand we are entirely feckless, we are living at home, unemployed, and we care too deeply about things.”

Regardless of the many negatives of the generation that are typically the main focus, Generation Y got to experience a wonderful, unique period in human development.

“I really like my generation,” Woody said. “Or at least my tiny cohort of people who were born in the early 80s. We got to experience a really cool time. We were the last of the kids let out after dark, we were the last of people that understand a time before the internet. We grew up with the internet, I have fond memories of dialing up on the 144 motive and hearing the carrier singles. That’s all a part of my youth. At the same time, I remember going to the library and doing research because that’s what you did. I feel like my experience growing up is far different than from the people who grew up 10 years later.”

Millennials are often known as politically and socially outspoken, due in part to the changes they saw in the world as they matured.

“Of course the single most impactful thing for us was Sept. 11, 2001,” Woody said. “I was 18 at the time, and that forced me to have a dramatically larger worldview and to consider US foreign policy. When I grew up there was ‘Operation Desert Storm’ which was a heavily marketed war. I had the complete set of Desert Storm trading cards and an ID bracelet with my little Desert Storm emblem on it. It was the height of American patriotism, and to go from ‘War is great, war is fun!’ to seeing the actions and ramifications after the attacks of Sept 11. suddenly brought it home to me.  Our actions over there create death and that’s exactly what’s happening here, and seeing that moral equivalent was a real shift for me. I think that’s what got my generation so politically involved, things felt a lot more real. At that same time, I think our generation was a lot more socially forward. I had friends who were gay, there were gay people on TV, one of my best friends is transgender, and suddenly we saw that society was not quite keeping up with that. That has allowed us to be a lot more accepting and care so much.  That is a more accurate stereotype of our generation, but I don’t view that as a negative. “

 

Generation Z

The Homeland Generation, the iGeneration, Plurals, Generation Z is the most recent full generation. Born between 1995 and 2015, this generation is apparently obsessed with technology, ADHD, and tasked with saving the world.

Gen Z is overpressured, we’re expected to succeed a lot. Too much.” Atkins said. “We’re all expected to go to college. Even when I was in elementary school, they talked about how we already need to do research on what college we want to go to and have a plan about what we want to do when we grow up and I was like ‘Dude, I’m in 3rd grade!’. We’re just expected to succeed so much and get a job as soon as we graduate from college and be so independent and advance from the past generations.”

Today’s kids can also have a more positive take on their many criticized attributes.

“Personally, I do have a really short attention span but I always find a way to come back to it,” Atkins said. “Or I do get off topic because I’m interested in things; I just want to talk about things so much, and say so many things that I either don’t have enough time to say it all or it leads me to another thing. I’m just really interested in everything. And how kids are so closely tied to electronics, I think it’s brilliant. Children have the power of this worldly computer, this great tool,  just in their back pocket. I think it’s this wonderful thing because we can know so much, so fast.”

This generation is also aware of some of the downfalls of the way they’re growing up.

The Gen Z is the loneliest generation ever,” Atkins said. “Even vs. the Silent Generation (1925-1942), which was still more mentally engaged and connected. While we do have social media and more of an ability to talk to people all over the world, I feel like that’s what’s making us lonely. We have the ability to talk to people but we don’t have the ability to know people.”

The completely new way that the iGeneration is developing is affecting nearly every aspect of the way they work.

“My generation incorporates a lot of electronics into how we learn,” Atkins said. “When my sisters were in school, they didn’t have computers with their education until middle school, I started [learning with computers] in the 3rd grade. The accessibility to information and ability to know more about the world leads to our generation being more understanding of other groups because we have more access to news articles and social media. We don’t have as much of cultural stereotypes in our generation.

 

Stereotypes

One thing bringing the various generations together is the idea that generational stereotypes aren’t important.

“Especially when you label a generation as being dumb or too absorbed, I think it creates an unnecessary bias and may cause you to discount a generation which is particularly harmful,” Woody said.

These generational labels have become more and more prevalent as the media becomes more interested in them.

I think it’s ridiculous,” Romero said. “I don’t think you can put an entire group of people in a box like that. It really didn’t even start until the Greatest Generation, we didn’t have titles like this in the 1800s.”

The media and older generation’s theme of looking down upon the younger generations, particularly Generation Y and Z, is not a new idea, however.

“In Plato’s Republic,” Woody said. “He remarks upon how kids these days are learning to read and writing everything down and it’s awful and it’ll ruin their memory. This is 2300 years ago and he’s having a ‘kids these days moment’, lamenting the loss of that generation, so we always do that.”

In today’s day and age, people all over the world lead vastly different lives and evolve every day. At this point, having stereotypes and ideas about groups of people ranging 15+ years doesn’t make sense.

“[Stereotypes] mean different things as you start getting into different areas,” Woody said. “I think my life as a 35-year-old living in the DFW metroplex is very different from the lifestyle of someone who’s 35 living in The Gambia. Those are really different lives. Even in the United States, there is this urban vs rural divide and those are very different lifestyles. It’s almost as if the whole generational thing is really very meaningless. I think with technology changing and with how we interact with one another,  it makes a lot more sense to have micro generations.”

 

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About the Writer
Sarah Crowder, Reporter

Sarah Crowder is a reporter and writer for The Talon News. This is her second year involved with the Talon and UIL Journalism, and she has won multiple...

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Kids These Days