14 March 2010


Cartoon from The New Yorker.


  1. I'm 26, and I feel old all the time - not physically, but societally.

    I'm a grad student and I work a lot with undergrads who are about 6 years younger, and the difference is incredible.

    Things are moving so fast that the gaps between generations are becoming quite small. Maybe 5 years between generations these days? What did it used to be, 15-20?

    Anyways, I don't lament the situation, because what's the point? But it is a frequent observation of mine.

  2. I have a friend who, not having a text-messaging plan with his wireless carrier, constantly complains about people who send frivolous texts. "Dude, I just made a sandwich!" is his favorite example of a pointless message which costs him twenty-five cents whether he cares or not. However, I am tempted to think that one's birth is a significant enough event to warrant notification.

  3. Peedie,

    A generation "used" to be the time it took to grow up and have kids. I think it still is - if anything, a generation is longer than it used to be as adults put off having kids until their 40's.

    These "generation" designations (Gen X, Y, E, Millenials, and whatever else) are media and marketing creations designed to help corporate marketers divide society into classes to be advertised at. They're the ones playing up the differences, helping to amplify and define in- and out-group behaviors, and cultivating groupwide brand loyalties.

    Sure the kids today grow up with different technology toys than we did, and I suppose some attitudes will be different (listening to high schoolers talk about sex is a striking example). So mass media can effect changes faster than it used to. And I suppose people are getting more culture from internet and tv than where they used to, which is from their families. But you are falling for a media trope in thinking things are changing so much. Read about life in Rome, or the Renaissance, or go sit in the apartment of a Nicaraguan family just off the boat. Compared to any of them, you and those millenials are practically the same.

    Oh, and one thing our "generation" and the millenials have in common: everyone's still living with their parents.

  4. Thanks for the insight, Manpace.

    You'll get no argument from me that the difference between me and a millennial is negligible compared to that of an immigrant. And relatively no argument about falling for media tropes.

    But part of me wonders that despite the fact that the difference between generations may be artificially created and not truth per se, if people are buying into it and following along, doesn't it create the very reality it's suggesting? Karl Rove said something to that effect in regards to policy vs. journalism.

    It may sound like postmodern BS to you (it sure does to me!) but, as an engineer who can't help himself, I'm interested in effects, not pure principles. And effectively, these differences have become manifest.

    Blacksburg Virginia


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