I’m a baby boomer. I came into the world in the middle of the best generation ever. Or the worst. Depends on who’s doing the evaluating.
The timeline of each generation depends on whom you’re talking to as well, which I advise against since high emotion is currently an acceptable substitute for logic.
Anyway, in rough chronological order, the generations are:
• 1900-1924 — G.I. generation for “Government Issue” aka the “Greatest Generation.”
This is the generation that endured the Great Depression, fought World War II and concocted the nuclear bomb. It’s also the generation that practically invented government handouts.
• 1925-1945 — Silent generation.
Born during the Great Depression and a world war, the silent generation tends to be smaller in number because of lowered birthrates. But these folks managed to kick off the civil rights movement despite being born in a generation during which blacks were all-too-commonly lynched.
• 1946-1964 — Baby boomer.
Called boomers because of the postwar exploding birthrate, we’re responsible for pursuing space exploration and disco. Somewhere our drive for the stars led to an infatuation with ceiling glitter balls. Ugh.
• 1965-1979 — Generation X.
Members of this generation reportedly have a marked disdain for authority and structured work time. Women born during this time are far more likely to have developed careers outside the home. Hit hard by the recession, they’ve struggled financially ever since.
• 1980-late 1990s – Generation Y (or millennials).
Famous for student debt, social media narcissism, tech savviness and hyper-sensitivity, these people also belong to one of the largest generations in terms of numbers.
• Late 1990s-2010s — Generation Z.
These folks have been wired in since day one. More than 90% go online daily, and more than half report “sexting” before age 18. They’re aware of a troubled environment and are justice-minded.
Again, these are just rough outlines of the generations who still have some say in how the planet gets managed.
I happen to think the boomers make up the greatest generation but only because I was born into it and understand what’s involved. I get the music, the politics and the angst of aging into irrelevancy.
Some argue that boomers are the worst generation because we’re old, racist, homophobic, devastated the economy, pressed our children into debt, and left younger generations with a mortally wounded environment.
I agree. We did that. But I have misanthropic leanings and consequently blame all generations for everything. A Washington Post polling analysis found that millennials are about as racist as boomers.
One thing all generations have in common is blaming the generations before them for all the trouble in the world. A lot of the complaints are valid.
But now comes the test. While furiously blaming the generation before you for the problems you have to endure, try to figure out a way to fix them without making things worse for the generation coming after you.
My money — what will be left of it — says you can’t.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.