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Arbitrary Idea Generation

Friends,

Society seems comfortable with this notion that people born within a 20-22 year window share common traits. Marketers and the media casually refer to us as Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials. Popular as these groupings are, we seldom delve beyond the broad strokes they convey. Peel the curtain back a little, and a bizarre framework emerges. I’ll set aside the 80-90 year repeating cycles of idealists, nomads, heroes and artists –if you’re curious, read this. Instead, I’ve decided to share some random observations –from this easily amused Gen-Xer (yes, I had to look it up).

  • The now defunct Millennial catchphrase “OK Boomer” carries a secret irony: it’s based on a generational paradigm created by two Baby Boomers: William Strauss (b. 1947) and Neil Howe (b. 1951).
  • Gen-X gets its name from the 24th letter in the alphabet, because it’s the 24th generation on the list. Fittingly, unlike the preceding and following generations, we were too lazy to change it.
  • Baby Boomers were preceded by the Silent generation, which might help explain why we don’t hear much about them.
  • If asked, wouldn’t it be amusing to say your product is targeted at the Lost generation? Granted, it might have been funnier before April 2018, when the last member of the Lost generation was lost.
  • The Homeland generation (i.e. generation Z) started in 2005. With the alphabet exhausted, does that mean the world will end in the mid-2020s?  (Fortunately not. Greek alphabet to the rescue!)
  • Hanson Gregory, the alleged donut inventor, was a member of the Gilded generation (1822-1842). Is it any wonder he created an excessively delicious golden treat?

It’s just as well my list neglected to mention one living generation. Their superlative name tells me they don’t need a self-esteem boost –besides, we’re getting Monday off to celebrate their feats.

Happy Friday!


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