My Misunderstood Generation
By Alex DeGroff
For much of my life I have dealt with the nagging comments and putdowns of elder generations. Our grandparents who lived through the Second World War see us as spoiled kids, expecting everything to be handed to us in a bowl. We do not talk properly, and we do not respect our country. While one could argue for or against all these adjectives being placed on us, we are deeper and more complex than most give us credit for. CBS’s 60 Minutes has described us as overachieving, over-managed, highly pressured…and powerful.
We are no longer just an up-and-coming generation. We are the generation. Born between 1982 and 1995, we comprise of nearly one-third of the U.S. population. We are considered the “echo boomers,” the children of the baby-boomer generation. Born in the first week of ’85, I am this generation. I know that we are cultured in the arts of today, but often ignorant of our rich history. This may be because we have created the very culture that we live in. We decide who has the power over our culture.
We have made some poor choices (i.e., Paris Hilton), but we are also a generation that looks up to those who do good in our world. We fault Angelina Jolie for her disturbing past, but respect her for what she has done recently for orphans. We may not all listen to the aging band U2, but we admire their dedication to ending AIDS and hunger in Africa. We may glamorize some of the stupid, but we admire some of the greats.
Sixty Minutes has counted nearly 80 million of us, that is 80 million people that like to shop. Whether it is clothes or the latest technology, we are a generation that likes, no, we love to buy. Wall Street loves us. We contribute $170 billion a year to our economy. We have stores geared only to us. We love the Abercrombies and Gaps that cater to our tastes, and ignore the stores that still have our parent’s clothing in the front window. It is not a coincidence that the all American department stores our parents loved have dwindled considerably since we came along. We made a conscious decision as a group that we did not like them, beginning their demise, and catapulting newer companies into giants.
We need technology. We are the first to grow up with computers. We have made it necessary for all homes (unless it is impossible) to have one. We have chosen to make I-pods a star. Those of us who follow the news have decided that it is more enjoyable to read it on the Internet, instead of the boring layout of The New York Times. We made it necessary for all of us to have cell phones. I had to sit down with my parents and tell them that cell phones were practically required to sufficiently operate in our society (although I did not word it quite that way). We decide what is popular and what is not. We need instant messaging, and love instant mac-and-cheese. We have become an on-demand society because my peers crave it.
I was surprised to see 60 Minutes did not look at us like many of our grandparents do. We are overachieving, over-managed, and highly pressured. We have chosen this type of world, and embraced it. My generation has helped make this society what it is today. While our parents and grandparents are the cornerstones of our culture and we are forever grateful for what they have done for us, we have become the keystone. It is often said we are the future. Well the future is now. Scary? Yes. But hey, we like it that way.