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3 Cultural Divides Between ’80s and ’90s Millennials

We're just as annoyed by these illiterate, tech-obsessed narcissists as Boomers and Gen-Xers are...

by
Becky Graebner

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September 25, 2013 - 8:47 am
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UNDATED FILE PHOTO- Kurt Cobain, lead singer of the "grunge" rock group "Nirvana," was found dead in..

Then and Now

Are you “typical” for your generation or are you a “freak?”  Well, now you can find out.

The Pew Research Center has a quiz, “How Millennial are you?” It surveys your beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors and compares them to other Americans who have taken a national survey. Intriguing.

I took this quiz. Although I was born in the late 1980s, I wasn’t very “Millennial.”  The Millennial point spread is from 73-100, with 100 being the “most Millennial” you can be. Below 72 points, you leave the Millennial spread and enter into Gen Xer range.

I received 80 points on my test, putting me on the low end of the Millennial attitude/behavior range. A good friend from college also took this quiz. She received 40 points; putting her in the Gen Xer range (the Gen Xer range is 33-72 points). I know many of my other friends would either be on the low-end of the Millennial scale or a Gen Xer.

Honestly, I’m not surprised.  I’ve noticed that there isn’t just a difference between generations, but also within them. Sometimes, I look around at my generational peers and think “who are these people?”

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Top Rated Comments   
Well, nobody is troubled by tarring all 'Boomers with the same brush, so maybe you millenials will have to accept that we 'Boomers consider most of you to be totally self-centered, totally spoiled and irresponsible, and barely literate if literate at all. You have lots of self-esteem but not much reason to have it. The frightening thing about the younger friends you describe is that they can enter contracts, own property, have children, and vote, none of which they are equipped for. Some psychological association in GB issued a report recently in which they aver that we should consider humans to be adolescent until they are 25. Obama's government apparently agrees by forcing adults to keep lazy punks on their health insurance through age 25 and forcing everyone to pay for it. And if you think that all sounds harsh, it pales in comparison to what x'ers and millenials commonly say on this site and elsewhere about all 'boomers.

The reality is that the first 'Boomers born in '46 and the last born in '64 grew up in totally different worlds and have almost nothing in common. A 'Boomer born in '46 got his "Greetings and salutations you are hereby ordered to report ..." letter the same year the last 'Boomers were born, and when the Vietnam War, one of the formative experiences of 'Boomers born in the forties and fifties, ended in '75 the last 'Boomers were in grade school. No 'Boomer born in the '60s ever faced the draft, saw a civil rights march or urban riot, at least not at an age where they'd likely remember it. No 'Boomer born in the '60 remembers precisely where s/he was when President Kennedy was assassinated, and few remember the MLK and RFK assassinations. In the '64 election that with LBJ's election started The Great Society, the only states in which ANY 'Boomer could vote were Georgia and Kentucky, the only states where 18 year olds could vote - and Goldwater carried Georgia. The first Presidential election in which all 'Boomers could vote was '84, and you might have read about that Reagan guy who won that one fairly handily. Yet, we're all alike; just ask any young'un.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (21)
All Comments   (21)
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I'm considered old on the merits of:

1) not disfiguring my body....'>......

2) knowing the difference between 'less' and 'fewer'........

3) my device stays in place and comes with a keyboard.......

This doesn't seem to convince legitimately older people of anything, however.....;>........
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Personally I'm all for the last part of #3. I hate hate hate typing on an itty bitty, totally non-tactile touch screen. Give me a real keyboard any day.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I scored 66 but I don't think the test is important. It's a question of a value system, and E.M. Forster warned against marrying tech a hundred years ago in his science fiction short story "The Machine Stops."

I've never understood texting; I thought the whole reason for leaving beepers and going to cell phones was not to take a half-step backwards.

Unless you're a celebrity or need to promote yourself for some reason, I've never understood morons who thumbtack Twitter either.

I don't see Facebook or having a web site as a problem because you can express yourself in a wide variety of ways, as long as you're not using them to show cats yawning or a pot pie you just made.

As for video games, from day one I've always felt that if I was in a room with a doorknob I'd use the doorknob in preference to a video game. So far I'm batting a thousand.

Having recently did some backpacking in India, I was appalled at how many young people were constantly on their cellphones talking or texting. The whole point of backpacking used to be to get away, get in touch with yourself, test yourself and waltz your Matilda as it were. Now it appears to be a non-stop commentary to "homies." I used to revel in being cut off from back home.

A decade before that, I was similarly appalled at seeing how everyone had a tattoo. I felt people who did that were empty inside so to speak. Your tattoos should be on the inside, and earned.

I was raised on science fiction, which has (until recent decades) been a warning voice against confusing the real and unreal.

There's nothing like sitting atop a 3,000 meter volcano alone on the other side of the world at 3 am with a full moon straight overhead. Heat lightning plays incessantly over the usually 50 miles or less distant coast. At dawn thunderheads whose flat bottoms are as tall as you roll in. Tweet that.

I enjoy having some tech stuff. I'm still amazed I can now press a button and have a Brazilian artist right now when I used to have to buy a cassette in Brazil. I'm amazed I have a massive catalog of music, including what would once be considered bootleg live performances, on youtube. But that stuff isn't important - not really. Fun's fun and life is life.

It's a natural human propensity to want to have meaning in one's life. It's also just as natural to be too lazy to go out and earn it, and therein lies the rub, as they don't say.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Agreed. I notice the same differences within my supposed generation, or generations. Chronologically, I'm a Boomer. The Pew survey assigned me to Generation X. I don't feel like I have much in common with either cohort. Too young to have done the "60s thing" with the Boomers, too old to have a nose ring or a Kurt Cobain obsession.

I think the whole generation thing was cooked up by people selling books, clothes, and music. Are you who and what you are, or are you who and what some sociologist and the Old Navy marketing department tell you you are?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Id, it sounds like you fall into my cohort. I was born in 1959 so by most classifications I fall into Boomer territory, but I've always thought of myself as GenX. Like you, I didn't do the Cobain thing, but that was because I'd already seen Johnny Rotten do it the first time around. I do think there's a lot to generational theory, but the chronoligical lines are not as clear as some people think.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Agree to an extent. I think the values of one's upbringing are ignored in these generational profiles. Personally, I experience a huge disconnect between the culture of my people, rural-small-town-heartland, and the culture of my in-laws, urban upper-middle-class. That seems to be ignored by many social "scientists."

I also resonated with Dave's previous description of the 5-year cohorts ... I'm a chronological late boomer who, due to personal factors, is actually culturally X-er. Dave's piece nailed that.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Having read the books and studied it I think there's much more evidence to back them up than not. It's really easy to dismiss for those who don't read the books and don't see all the evidence that Howe and Strauss accumulated to back up their theory. But as I wrote about recently, I think they oversimplify, by not taking into account the way generations blend together: http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/09/18/my-oddball-theory-of-when-and-how-generations-blend/
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your friends sound like they are evolving into Eloi.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, nobody is troubled by tarring all 'Boomers with the same brush, so maybe you millenials will have to accept that we 'Boomers consider most of you to be totally self-centered, totally spoiled and irresponsible, and barely literate if literate at all. You have lots of self-esteem but not much reason to have it. The frightening thing about the younger friends you describe is that they can enter contracts, own property, have children, and vote, none of which they are equipped for. Some psychological association in GB issued a report recently in which they aver that we should consider humans to be adolescent until they are 25. Obama's government apparently agrees by forcing adults to keep lazy punks on their health insurance through age 25 and forcing everyone to pay for it. And if you think that all sounds harsh, it pales in comparison to what x'ers and millenials commonly say on this site and elsewhere about all 'boomers.

The reality is that the first 'Boomers born in '46 and the last born in '64 grew up in totally different worlds and have almost nothing in common. A 'Boomer born in '46 got his "Greetings and salutations you are hereby ordered to report ..." letter the same year the last 'Boomers were born, and when the Vietnam War, one of the formative experiences of 'Boomers born in the forties and fifties, ended in '75 the last 'Boomers were in grade school. No 'Boomer born in the '60s ever faced the draft, saw a civil rights march or urban riot, at least not at an age where they'd likely remember it. No 'Boomer born in the '60 remembers precisely where s/he was when President Kennedy was assassinated, and few remember the MLK and RFK assassinations. In the '64 election that with LBJ's election started The Great Society, the only states in which ANY 'Boomer could vote were Georgia and Kentucky, the only states where 18 year olds could vote - and Goldwater carried Georgia. The first Presidential election in which all 'Boomers could vote was '84, and you might have read about that Reagan guy who won that one fairly handily. Yet, we're all alike; just ask any young'un.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bravo! That is best post you have ever written. Let me elaborate on your main point about the spread in boomer age.

My best friend counts as boomer because she was born in 1963. Her father was not old enough to serve in the Second World War or Korea. There is a big difference in our attitudes because my parents were adults during the depression and my father was even a pre-war regular. Our culturalal outlook is vastly different. She is more like Gen X then a boomer. I think the determining factor for being a late boomer is not what year you were born but whether your father was old enough to serve in the military during WWII or participate as an adult in the war effort. I have talked about my parents experiences with her and she just can't get a grip on how they lived. We both watched Band of Brothers and to her it was just a fictional war story but for me it was about my father and my uncles.

(As and aside Captain Sobel graduated from my high school)
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
You can say something similar about the differences between early X'ers and late X'ers. I witnessed Watergate as a teenager and it was a formative political experience for me. My friend who is ten years younger than me was a toddler and she barely remembers it. Similarly, punk is just something she remembers from her childhood, while I experienced it first hand.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Similar but not quite the same thing. It isn't just events you experience but the events experienced by your parents generatiion often make the difference. The Depression and WWII were a part of my life because my parent's generations passed down the experience to me. For my friend the the seminal events that made you boomer were an abstraction since her parents did not have the experience to pass on.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your wrong about the riots. If you were only 4-6 yrs old you remember them especially if they happened in the next town over. My wife remembers them as clear as day and she was just kid.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well said. Being born in 1960 makes me a Boomer, but the '46 cohort were in high school by that time. From 1968 until 1980, it was THEIR world - I just lived in it, in their shadow, in their fallout zone, if you will. I didn't do any of the exciting things they did, I just dealt with the consequences.

If I have any Boomer characteristics, I didn't get them from people my own age. I got them from the '46 Boomers - from watching '46 Boomer TV shows, listening to '46 Boomer music, being exposed to '46 Boomer fashions through '46 Boomer advertising, buying from a market saturated with '46 Boomer products, and being educated by '46 Boomer teachers.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
You can believe that crap if you want to but there were NO 'Boomers making policy in either government or business until the late '70s at the earliest. No 'Boomer wrote and filmed those TV shows, published that music, designed and marketed that fashion, built or marketed those products, or was educating anybody until the late '60s - the very earliest any 'boomer could have had a teaching certificate was '68 or '69.

You can believe the "Boomers created the '60s if you want but it simply isn't true. You can fault us for consuming the '60s to the extent we did, but the '60s were a product offered to us by "The Greatest Generation." When I took Intro to Psychology in a small, rural Georgia college in '68, I wasn't the one who made my professor a dope-smoking communist, but he was influential in making me one for a little while - and then I got over it.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Insightful. Perhaps we should make a distinction between the "Millennial" generation and the "iPhone" generation. As you mention, kids whose first phones were iPhones have been so immersed in online tech that they have lost the ability to function in the non-virtual world. Their only "real world" experience has been the dreary restriction of government schools.

Millennials might be the last generation to use grammar, syntax, vocabulary, and rhetoric, not to mention pens and cursive handwriting. Frightening. It certainly sets up a government to take control of its illiterate citizens.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I still have trouble with the fact that my boss (a late Gen-Xer) talks like a Valley Girl.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's terrible. I'd never be able to listen to her without thinking about that Frank Zappa song.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yah isn't that high-pitched voice so many of those girls have absolutely irritating? How can one take that seriously? I'm old enough to remember voice coaching in corporate HR at one company I worked for. Do people still do that?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Personally, as one who turned 18 in 1976, I think you're both dysfunctional generations. Merely different in your dysfunction.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Every generation is dysfunctional in its own way.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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