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I’m a bona fide by birth member of this generation and I feel lightyears out of touch with it. Or maybe the way it’s described in so much reporting so often just results in an eye roll of complete jaded disinterest and mild cynicism.

Makes me ponder sometimes if the phenomenon happens across other generations or if the ever present nature of having everyone’s “stuff” so accessible online merely amplifies this sense of generational malaise.

That's pretty typical, because the "generational" stereotypes are nearly entirely nonsense. What percentage of "Generation X" actually went around wearing flannel and rolling their eyes all day? How many Boomers actually wore tie dye every day, smoked pot, and lived in free love communes?

Generational characterizations exist solely to sell books, write silly columns, and make older people feel justified when they dismiss and disrespect the younger people.

It's an American thing. Many countries don't have such named generations and corresponding stereotypes. I'm Hungarian and we do have "old people" stereotypes but no named list of generations.

When I hear this Gen X etc stuff from the US, it feels a bit like horoscopes...

For the recent generations, with some limited exceptions, it pretty much is.

The early named ones were based around major social/economic issues that influenced them as they grew up - WWI, Great Depression, WWII - and then Baby Boomers created a sort of wave pattern in the population that made for easy groupings into the future.

That wave pattern has since become much flatter, if not disappeared completely, but the idea is pretty appealing so it persists. You will occasionally see it start to break down though, for example with "Millennial" being split into young and old.

But then it would be surprising if the emergence of a new medium for everyday social interaction doesn't count as "major social/economic issue" that creates just such a wave.

So yes, I'd expect the "millenials" to be different. I agree with you though that "Gen X" etc. are just a smooth and unremarkable cultural evolution from what began with "Boomer" parents.

I used to be able to roughly group American pop music trends by decade. It was never perfect (the '60s and '70s weren't THAT different from each other, compared to all the other decades) but it was useful. In the 2000s and 2010s it really seems to have broken down though, which is evidence for your theory.

As a non-American, I'll second this. We do have older people talking about how promiscuous the new generation is (for any age "older people" and "new generation"), but that's about it. There's no generation labeling, and it does feel a lot like horoscopes.

> and make older people feel justified

I think it's mostly this.

Let's not forget though that the generational dismissal sometimes happens in both directions, eg. those tie-dyed boomers cut their hair and voted for Reagan, now they sit around and complain about the young types for not affording a home, unaware of how easy they had it and their role in wrecking the system. (These are a few of the stereotypes anyway.)

It cuts both ways. When I was younger (I'm in my 40s now) I did plenty of my own complaining. It's pretty natural for younger people to be poorer: they had less time to accumulate wealth. It's also pretty natural for generations to complain about each other. Other people pretty much universally see 20-somethings as total shitheads, because that's what they mostly are. I say this with full understanding that I too was a shithead in my 20's, and I'm still a shithead to an older, wiser person.

Stereotypes in general exist because a 'sufficiently large' percent of a population abide them. What sufficiently large means is not easy to define, but it's not like they're completely arbitrary. Look at one important thing you're doing, perhaps not consciously, in your comment. You chose to focus on physical expressions (wearing flannel, wearing tie dye, smoking pot, etc) as opposed to ideological views or values and characteristics. Reality can often get in the way of expression so by referencing it alone you substantially undercount 'adherents.'

For instance one of the stereotypes of millennials is extreme narcissism, but this doesn't necessarily manifest in everybody having some social media account where they endlessly post selfies of themselves. Though, at least in this case, the number engaged in that behavior alone probably justifies the stereotype. And by contrast boomers were most well known for, in general, a rejection of traditional views and values. The success of the civil rights movement alone testifies to the widespread nature of this change in the zeitgeist.

Really though you can perhaps see this even more clearly by looking how much the US changes its zeitgeist just about every 20 years:

- Roaring 20s - Warring 40s - Peace and Love 60s - Corporate 80s - Identity Politic 2000s - ?? 2020s

Of course there are many exceptions to these sort of characterizations - but that's what stereotypes tend to be: things that hold true, for a 'sufficiently large' chunk of a population. That of course does not preclude many people not abiding the stereotypes.

> one of the stereotypes of millennials is extreme narcissism... And by contrast boomers were most well known for...

You gotta be kidding. Narcissism was the defining characteristic of Boomers and still is.

They can’t stop taking about a music festival 50 years later for god sakes, there are literal museums[0] devoted to their nostalgic youth fashion and lifestyle choices.

And don’t get me started on their “everything has to stay the way it was when I had a young family” approach to urban planning.

[0] https://www.bethelwoodscenter.org/the-museum

> What percentage of "Generation X" actually went around wearing flannel and rolling their eyes all day?

Um, basically all of us?

Heck I’m wearing flannel right now

Here, have an eye roll ;-)

and get off the lawn i don’t have because the Boomers are hogging all the housing...

> What percentage of "Generation X" actually went around wearing flannel and rolling their eyes all day

I was born in 1980 so I’m not sure I’m gen-X-er (I’m pretty sure I’m not a millennial) but I’d say that for my generation wearing a checkered shirt at some point in their youth/adolescence was a rite of passage.

I recall two flannel phases in my (1979) life - grunge and hipster

> I was born in 1980 so I’m not sure I’m gen-X-er (I’m pretty sure I’m not a millennial)

So there is the "Xennials" micro-generation, so we can be a little bit of both :-)

"hey look how prideful I am in being out of touch!"

Senators feel the same way when they brag about never having sent an email

> How many Boomers actually wore tie dye every day, smoked pot, and lived in free love communes?

I thought they hung out at burger joints and necked in large finned cars in drive-in theaters. (Think Grease, Back to the Future and Happy Days). Or is that the silent generation?

All those were set in the 50s, the boomers were born after the war in 1945 at the earliest (this one is fairly well delineated, compared to the other generations). So that's a previous generation.

Who are the most well-known boomer characters in the media? John Rambo and the cast of FMJ?

You might have a different taste in media from the American public, but it's surely Oprah and Trump. For fictional characters, maybe the cast of Cheers? Or Seinfeld?

Seinfeld is a boomer?! Holy crap, he is 64 years old, I thought he was an early Xer.

Looking at the aesthetic, it seems like it's just another cultural shift towards faux apathy and cynicism in response to a preceding culture that tried too hard to be perfect. Just like grunge followed 80's consumerism and raw punk responded to overly produced sounds in the 70's, this is a reaction to the professional consumerization of instagram. If these looks succeed, they will be copied, taken mainstream, and made nauseating until new "young people" respond with opposite styles again. Round we go.

Like a certain group in the 80's once said "big wheel in the sky keep on turnin'"?

So much this. Someone needs to poll millennials to show this. I've never had avocado toast, and when I hear "Instagram influencer" it either comes across as "marketer"(/model) or someone who is spending way to much time online.

And let's edit our photos a different way — so they seem genuine. Oh, the irony.

And half the time all I want are shoes or clothing that fit, and often that criteria eliminates 95+% of the stock stores seem to keep these days.

> half the time all I want are shoes or clothing that fit, and often that criteria eliminates 95+% of the stock stores seem to keep these days.

I feel you: have wasted many hours the past two years in clothing stores to discover nothing fits (in ways that can't easily be corrected by tailors).

Haven't managed to buy much new clothing in the past few years because of it.

>I've never had avocado toast,

I thought that was just something older people say to explain why young people can't afford homes, while avoiding the fact the old are eating the young.

"oh you can't afford rent? , better stop with the avocado toast silly millennial"

Back in my day "avocado toast" was called bruschetta and nobody gave anybody shit for enjoying it, gosh darnit :P

I know exactly what you mean.


Most of those names imply other character traits, not just a sense of generational malaise

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