Gen Xer Clare and Millennial Hannah talk about the generations and how they were shaped by technology, historical events, and in Clare’s case, a whole lot of geopolitical mayhem.
Clare and Hannah talked about the many technological innovations that were invented when Clare was growing up and were constantly improved when Hannah was growing up. Here’s a graph demonstrating the exponential growth of technology beginning in the 20th century:
“Was the Internet a Horrible Mistake?” (Honestly with Bari Weiss, featuring guest Jaron Lanier, October 13, 2021)
“I’m not anti-Google. I just think their business model and their algorithms are destroying humanity.” (Jaron Lanier)
Baby Boomers, born in the post-war years from mid-1940s until the early 60s, are the “lump moving through the snake.” Birthrates tanked with Generation X, but the Millennial and post-Millennials are as large a cohort as the Baby Boomers, but not just due to births–immigration is one of the main reasons the Millennials and Generation Z outnumber the Baby Boomers.
Another graph showing the spike in births right after World War II and the steep decline in births after that:
“The Forgotten Generation: Slackers No More” by Laura DeMarco (March 27, 2020). Here’s the graphic from the article, a screen-grab of a 2019 CBS News feature. “Even in a major television news story specifically about the Generations, Generation X is forgotten!!” Clare harrumphs indignantly.
This article, “A Teacher’s Guide to Generation X Parents,” by Susan Gregory Thomas, cites the 2004 study that describes Generation X as “one of the least parented, least nurtured generations in U.S. history.”
Generation X, according to a 2004 study conducted by marketing-strategy and research firm Reach Advisors, “went through its all-important formative years as one of the least parented, least nurtured generations in U.S. history.” Little wonder: Half of all Gen Xers’ parents are divorced. We were the first to be raised in record numbers in day care, and some 40 percent of us were latchkey kids.
Adults complaining about youngsters is nothing new. The lament, “Kids these days!” echoes to us from parents who lived thousands of years ago:
- “Were Baby Boomers viewed by older generations the way Millennials are today?” An excellent discussion by a historian who cites his sources carefully.
- “The 2500-Year-Old History of Adults Blaming the Younger Generation” by Joe Gillard (April 17, 2018).
- “What is wrong with young people today? A view from the past.” (November 4, 2010)
- The above link contains a quote famously attributed to Socrates. The team at Quote Investigator have done some amazing archival research and found the original source of the quote. It actually comes from the 1907 dissertation of Cambridge student Kenneth John Freeman. He crafted a summary of what elders of ancient times in Greece were saying about the younger generation. His summary was later picked up and misattributed as a verbatim quote from Socrates (or sometimes Plato). Nevertheless, the substance of the quote is not incorrect, as it is based on Freeman’s scholarly research. His dissertation is entitled, “School of Hellas: an Essay on the Practice and Theory of Ancient Greek Education from 600 to 300 BC.” I recommend starting at the bottom of page 71 and paging forward to enjoy some great polemic from Aristophanes, Isokrates, and Plato himself, which bolsters the argument that adults have been complaining about kids for thousands of years!
‘Youth is the cause of hope on these three counts, namely, because the object of hope is future, is difficult, and is possible. For the young live in the future and not in the past, they are not lost in memories but full of confidence. Secondly, their warmth of nature, high spirits, and expansive heart embolden them to reach out to difficult projects; therefore are they mettlesome and of good hope. Thirdly, they have not been thwarted in their plans and their lack of experience encourages them to think that where there’s a will there’s a way. The last two facts, namely good spirits and a certain recklessness, are also at work in people who are drunk.’
—St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae (trans. Thomas Gilby) I-II 60.6.
Think about this: What If Aristotle’s Kid Had an iPod?
And finally, a Baby Boomer looks wistfully back and nervously forward: Facing a Long, Hard Winter.
Clare is an independent author who would love it if you checked out her books! If you like exciting thrillers featuring an intergenerational cast of characters and a hero who rises to his or her full potential in the face of peril, you might enjoy The Keys of Death. It’s a veterinary medical thriller about a small-town animal doctor who gets tangled up in a whistle-blowing scheme against a big biotech company. Or, if you prefer shorter fiction, try Startling Figures, a collection of three paranormal stories.
We provide these resources to help you find and enjoy the things we talked about on this episode! Note that some of these may include “affiliate” links to books and other products. When you click through and purchase, the price of the item is the same for you. In fact, most of the time you’ll get a discount! But the company gives us a little somethin’ somethin’ to say “thanks” for sending you their way! This helps you enjoy the website and the podcast EVEN MORE by eliminating intrusive advertisements. Thanks for clicking!
If you’d like to support us more directly, consider “buying us a coffee” at our Ko-fi page: https://ko-fi.com/splanchnicspodcast. Even virtual caffeine really hits the spot! Thanks so much!