All One Generation?
By Kaitlin Walsh
Is it fair to categorize an entire generation in one article? CBS’s 60 Minutes report on the generation of people born between 1982 and 1995 titled, “The Echo Boomers” seems to believe so.
The report, however in depth, is false and insulting to my generation. Being a person born in 1985, I always remembered being referred to as being a part of Generation Y. The first mistake 60 Minutes makes is pushing together two very different generations. Mine, “Generation Y”(1982-1988) and the so-called “echo boomers”(1988-1995).
It’s obvious that this is the largest boom generation in decades and it will affect every part of the U.S. as they mature. The largest distinction between the “echo boomers” and “Generation Y” is the awareness and activeness in the world events today. Due to the constant electronic media my generation is exposed to, we are forced to be more aware.
The waters go muddy between the generations when the topic becomes the ability to sift through the media, and do your own research into the truth. Generation Y has the memory of not always having “500 channels” with a stronger dependence on books and publications. Generation Y is quickly maturing and learning how to deal with the constant stream of media. While in my conversations with pre-teens and teens today, they absorb, and more importantly, believe whatever the media tosses their way.
There is also a significant loss of innocence in the echo boomers. Kids who are nine should not be caring who or what they’re wearing. It’s no wonder both generations are “spending $170 billion a year of their parent’s money” states 60 Minutes. I have heard my 11 year-old cousins talking with her friends about brands even I haven’t heard of. The echo boomers are also becoming more sexually promiscuous at an early age. Today, I walk down the street and hear middle-school girls talk about having oral sex with a boy they “sorta-like” while dressing like they are nineteen.
The common ground between both the echo boomers and Generation Y is the egocentrism. “They have been heavily programmed. The kids who have had soccer Monday, Kung Fu Tuesday, religious classes Wednesday, clarinet lessons Thursday…” states Dr. Mel Levine, one of the best-known pediatricians in the country. How can these kids not grow up to be self-centered? The weekly schedule revolves around activities these kids participate in. A historian studying generation differences, Neil Howe states, “They are much different than their self-absorbed, egocentric baby-boomer parents.” How different are we? The new generations do not have the same reasons to be egocentric as baby boomers might have; yet they are.
With the increased egocentrism comes extreme pressure to succeed and be the best. “I would say my generation tends to be very overachieving, over managed” says Nick Summers, a student at Colombia University and born into Generation Y. The echo boomers have gradually moved towards group achievement versus Generation Y who strives for individual success. “When you ask Kids, ‘ what do you most hope to achieve there?’ Where they used to say, ‘I wanna be No.1. I wanna be the best.’ Increasingly they’re saying, ‘I wanna be an effective member of the team. I wanna do everything that’s required of me,'” says generation historian Neil Howe.
With the constant maturity of both generations, the future is unpredictable. What will the next generation have to live up to? “What would you call your generation?” asks Jane Buckingham of the Intelligence Group. One-student answers, “ Perfect”.