Where the Generations Roam (Introducing the Zen Generation)
Where do the generations roam? From Boomer to Generation Z leading to Generation Alpha, where will we end up? Where have we been, where are we going in the near term? These are some of the things I think about a lot. I have spent some time putting together my thoughts on these topics, and I think I see where the changes happened and why they happened. Follow along on this detailed look into what I believe has caused some major divisions in our society, and its not all political.
The first thing to look at is of course the Internet. Instant, uncensored communication. Some will say it is censored, but there are ways around censoring if you really want to do it. Once you find your platform and get around any censoring you have a soapbox to the world. Unfortunately, this creates a problem. Single humans think rationally. It is scientifically proven that a group will quickly become irrational if provoked, especially if that group has complementing opinions. This is the pack instinct that we have carried through our evolution.
In the past these groups were fairly small, hundreds, maybe thousands. With the introduction of the Internet and without a doubt social media, these packs have grown exponentially, tens of thousands on to millions in some cases such as in our political parties. Instant communication, a pack mentality, an unstable government, and then a pandemic to light the fire. This has always been a recipe for disaster. Before the Internet people had time to cool down before making rash decisions, now it happens within milliseconds. But over the last few decades, a new piece has been added to this puzzle. More than 3 generations fighting for a voice.
The Baby Boomers, Generation X, The Xenials sub-generation of Generation X, the Millennials, Gen Z, and now Gen Alpha. And as of now they all have access to this same communication platform from the day of birth. We have more deeply segregated ourselves into these generations than at any other time in history.
The Baby Boomers grew up in a completely different world. Throughout the ’50s and ’60s, most radios were still tube, homes were lucky to have one television, the cold war was not in full swing yet, and without a doubt the political agendas were very different. Most business happened, locally and 99% of business happened inside this country, we were not truly global then, now we are.
There were a few altercations through those decades but nothing on the scale of what the next generation had to deal with. This does not include WWII because that was a completely different generation and our soldiers were praised when they came home. Not so much in the next generation.
Along comes Generation X. The Vietnam generation. Yes, the Vietnam Conflict as the government calls it. I do understand this illegal conflict was going on well before the official start of Generation X, but this generation dealt more directly with the casualties of this war. We dealt with the homeless veterans, the suicidal, alcoholic, miserable, PTSD broken veterans that this country sent to war to further their own agendas, yet kicked them to the curb around every corner. I had three uncles that were drafted into Vietnam, all of them did three tours, all of them came back as completely different people. Not everyone was this way, but more troops than anyone wants to admit came back quite screwed up. Not to mention the number of deaths that impacted the whole country.
In the mix there also were the flower children, most either had family money or dodged the draft just to wait for the troops to come home so they could spit on them and call them names. I know this for a fact as I have an old friend and his wife tell me that they were part of that group and are still proud that they did it. I asked why they blamed the troops for what the government sent them to do. They always replied that those troops could have dodged the draft too. So I guess that comes down to knowing that the government is not going to listen to you, so you just take it out on whoever you can. Seems real similar to a lot of the things we see going on today.
The Xennials, of which I am, being boring in 1975, were at the tail end of that war. 1975 was pretty much the year that combat ended. We were still dealing with and to this day still, deal with the leftovers of the Vietnam Conflict. Now, even 50 years later there are still hungry, homeless, mentally disturbed Vietnam veterans wasting away because the government still does not care, just waiting for them to die, I guess.
Along with this, 1975 has been frequently coined as the very beginnings of the computer revolution, specifically the home computer revolution. Though just a hobby thing through the rest of the 1970s and into the early 1980s, in the mid ’80s the home computer and consumer electronics markets took off. By the 1990s the stuff was everywhere. But at the same time, a few other not-so-nice things started to take off also.
On to the next topic that rolls all of this together. I am not going to blame this one either political party because truthfully neither one of them has done anything to stop it. Personally I point a finger at all mega corporations for the downfall of many parts of our society. But this started with banks and loans, more specifically easy credit.
Fortunately JP Morgan, Chase is proud of this fact so they display it on their company history page “1985 Expanding beyond markets: the age of interstate banking”. But there was more to it than what their summary provides.
Quoted from their history page
“The Supreme Court rules that regional interstate banking zones are constitutional, marking an important step toward the development of full interstate banking today. Up to this time, bank holding companies were prohibited from acquiring banks across state lines. As a result, our New York heritage firms begin expanding beyond the New York City market, while all three Midwest heritage firms — Banc One in Ohio, First Chicago in Illinois, and NBD in Michigan — merge with large bank holding companies in other states before merging with one another in the 1990s.”[JP Mogan Chase]
In essence what this did was allow any bank in the country to buy any other bank with not much limit on how big they could grow. This put everyone’s money under one roof, well very few rooves. We still have small, local banks, there are 3 different small local banks with in 20 miles of my home. But for large capital loans these small banks can not compete with the mega banks like Chase or Citi. Current research shows Chase is worth US$3.386 trillion (2020)[wikipedia] and Citi is worth US$2.260 trillion (2020)[wikipedia]. The assets of those two banks alone are worth 2% of the estimated value of the whole country, and that is just two of them.
Don’t forget that this is also the time that CEO’s and upper management of large companies, especially banks, started giving themselves paychecks in the millions while the workers pay rates changed very little.
One thing this led to was predatory lending. More or less lending money to those that you know can not afford the payments, suck them for everything that you can and wait for them to file bankruptcy, keep the money already collected, and add the assets of the unfortunate individual or family that has just fallen to one of the biggest scams in this country to your coffers. Rinse and repeat.
This brings Baby Boomers back into this theory. A majority of them saw the blinding lights at the end of the money train and jumped right on. They started buying things on credit, big things, awesome things, shiny things. Big houses, fast cars, vacation homes. Then the interest and payments came.
The payments stacked up and stacked up until, one day, a family that could be supported on one income required two incomes. In most cases this was both parents, and this begat the Latchkey Kids. But man that big house sure was nice.
“The term latchkey kid became commonplace in the 1970s and 1980s to describe members of Generation X who, according to a 2004 marketing study, “went through its all-important, formative years as one of the least parented, least nurtured generations in U.S. history.””[wikipedia]
So in essence the Baby Boomers caused the dissent of the Latchkey generation by buying into the easy credit scheme offered by the mega banks that were legalized in 1985 under the watchful eye of the Regan administration.
But Generation X was going to make up for it. They were going to do everything right. They were going to fix this, they were going to have perfect kids, they were not going to make the mistakes that the Baby Boomers did, yet they said this as they made another credit card payment and looked for more overtime to work. Not everyone was this way, but enough were that it changed our society forever.
From this mindset spawned what we now call the Millennial generation.
“Researchers and popular media use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years, with the generation typically being defined as people born from 1981 to 1996.
Trying to make up for the failures of the Latchkey generation Generation X went overboard parenting their children. This is where the phrase helicopter parent came from
“A helicopter parent (also called a cosseting parent or simply a cosseter) is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions.”[wikipedia]
Many of the children of helicopter parents were resentful of this constant hovering, though of course were in no place to voice this displeasure. But in my view this only lasted for subset of the Millennial generation as computers, video games, and the Internet took over the country and became the babysitters. This is also when the “my child does no wrong” attitude started to build.
Weather it is single parents or a couple, the constant work, constant overtime, and constant inattention or the wrong attention to their children repeats this cycle. Material things do not make up for parental nurturing, though unfortunately some think that buying their child a new phone or sending their child a text is enough. The Xers who didn’t want to be the Boomers became a bad combination of both.
Now, those born near the end of the Millennial and beginning of the Z generation are getting older, they are graduating college, and they have chosen to have a voice. Maybe we should make this a sub generation called The Zen Generation as it is directly followed by Generation Z. They see the problems in the system but get ignored around every corner when they bring up those concerns. Paying those credit card bills are still A#1 on top of the Xers list. The Zen Generation are saying, hold up a minute, this is not right, we have a right to decide where our money goes, we have the right to decide how our country is run. They are bucking their GenX parents, and telling the Boomers to mind their own business and neither one of them like it.
Most Xers and almost all boomers dislike the voice of the Zen generation, I do not agree with all of their ideas but they are progressive and see what is going on. The Internet, which became the babysitter taught them a few things while the Boomers and Xers were working overtime, paying off all that pretty credit.
So we have a 3 1/2 way generational split that collects in huge groups on the Internet and decides to fight instead of working out differences.
I do not care about your race, gender, color, ethnicity, where you came from or where you are going. I care about you respecting me, if you respect me I will respect you and we will get along just fine. I think the Zen Generation are getting this, but it is a new way of thinking that older generations are having a hard time adapting to. This is what a global economy looks like and there is no way to stop it.
Remember this if nothing else, we are analog creatures trying to adapt to a fast moving digital world. And we are struggling. If anyone has a finger on the pulse of the digital world it is actually the Zen generation, maybe we should slow down and listen to them.