Generations Are Arbitrary. Act Accordingly.

punk-band-generation-x
Members of this band were all Boomers.

The idea of generations, especially as Demographers use them, is overrated. I’ve said so before, I’ll likely go on saying it.

Being born at the same time as others gives you a set of shared cultural memories and not much else. Now, those shared cultural memories can be powerful, especially given the rate of pop culture decay, but they aren’t as determinative as people like to believe.

I have some more to say on this topic, over on Contena.com, which is a writer’s resource that’s added a blogging feature. I like to try out blogging features, so I penned Dead X.

The idea of “Generation X” was coined by the Canadian writer Douglas Coupland, and he was referring to people born around his time, the late fifties to early sixties, who came of age in the seventies. Too young to really be involved in the great Sixties upheaval, they lived in the immediate consequences of it. We would call these folk today “Late Boomers”.

Now, this is a provocative idea, if we were to apply the 15-year cycle that Democraphers are fond of using today. What if, instead of this:

  • Baby Boom: 1946-1964
  • Generation X: 1965-1980
  • Millenials: 1981-1995
  • Generation Z: 1996-2010
  • Generation Alpha: 2011-2025

We borrowed from Coupland’s original notion, and went with this:

  • Baby Boom: 1946-1960
  • Generation X: 1961-1975
  • Generation Y/Xennials: 1976-1990
  • Generation Z/Millenials: 1991-2005
  • Generation Alpha: 2006-2020

This setup has the virtue of a) recognizing that postwar birthrates started to decline in the early 60’s, when birth control became a reality, b) using the original conception of Generation X, c) moving the group called “Millenials” to those born around the actual Millenium, and d) giving the “Xennial” identity an actual demography.

Of course, it would shift myself from Generation X to Generation Y, but it would put me in the same Generation as my wife, so… I can live with it.

The link to Dead X on my Contena profile again, that you may Read the Whole Thing.

 

Why Music Sounds Bad When You Get Older

Two reasons:

1. As you age, your critical faculties improve. When you first discover pop music, it’s like the rush of first love. You’re a blank slate and the music just writes itself into you. It becomes identity. And you immerse yourself into it. And after enough songs, you start getting readier and readier to dismiss things that don’t hit you like that first one. And since very few ever will, the general sense that “music sucks” gets stronger and stronger, until that becomes the default. Also, you’ll start seeing trends go and then come back around, and this will augment a healthy cynicism about the record industry, making falling in love with a song or an artist much harder.

2. You drop out and drop back into what’s current, largely unwilling. The common idea is that people stop paying attention to popular music sometime around age 30. Either the patterns of a grown-up lifestyle (kids, house, IRA) leave you with less and less time to devote to following the latest trends, or you get sick of the trends and the difficulty of finding something that pleases you, and you throw up your hands.

Now suppose some time goes by. Suppose some young people in your life expose you to the next Big Thing. And since your behind the curve on what’s been happening, it won’t sound like anything you’re familiar with. Or if it does, it will sound like an unoriginal or weak repetition of it. So of course the stuff the kids listen to is obnoxious. You’re not in a place to how it got there, and they’re not in a place to hear anything else.

youths