PZ Myers recently ran a post about generations, or rather on how the generational differences cited are largely marketing babble and not terribly true to life. I don’t disagree with this post in any real particular; after all, insofar as generational cohorts exist at all as we know them, they’re an emergent property of World War II – the Baby Boom being the huge birth rate spike following the war, and other generations being largely defined in relation to them. But while the generations themselves are not terribly real, the zeitgeists they are associated with (despite also having more than a little of marketing machinery in them) are.
Because time inevitably keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future, I am now an old. I’m from the messy area on the charts where various pundits and pontificators don’t necessarily agree what grand generation I should be sorted into, Gen X or Millennial. One of the main defining characteristics of Generation X, described as early as in the book that popularized the term, is a jadedness and world-weariness (formerly) in excess of their years; this is the generation whence came grunge music and ‘Empire Records’ and Kevin Smith’s movies, and also the popular notion of ironically loving things. It’s the generation of believing the world is such a bleak place that anything wholesome is perforce naïve. Millennials, conversely, re-popularized unironic joy, and loving a Thing because it’s the Thing not because it makes some kind of insightful (or worse ironic) comment. [Read more…]