The Silent Generation, the Baby Boomers, and the iGeneration

By: Lauren Zych

Are you Generation Y? How about Generation Z? What about Generation ‘i’? Generation Y was born between 1977 and 1994 and might be referred to as the Millenniums. Generation Z was born between 1995 and 2012 and might be called Eco Boomers, so what about Generation ‘i’?

Author Larry Rosen, California State University professor of Psychology,  has combined these two generations and call them the “iGeneration” in his new book “Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn”.

“The technology is the easiest way to see it, but it’s also a mind-set, and the mind-set goes with the little ‘i,’ which I’m taking to stand for ‘individualized,’” Rosen said, “Everything is customized and individualized to me”.

In all entirety, the iGeneration gap is no different from the generation gap between the Baby Boomers (1946-1960) and their parents the Silent Generation (1925-1945). The Baby Boomers were seen as putting “less emphasis on money and more on meaning,” as so described by Neil Howe and William Strauss in their 1992 article “The New Generation Gap”. Howe and Strauss go on to describe how the Baby Boomers were suspected to be “adorable as babies, cute as grade school pupils and striking as they entered their teens, after which “their parents would be very, very proud of them.”  It was said that the Baby Boomers would lay out blight-proof, smog-free cities, enrich the underdeveloped world, and write finis to poverty and war. But in all reality, they were never meant to be the doers or builders like their parents were. Instead they lead a cultural movement called the “Conscious Revolution”, which was meant to make the world better by creating a youth conscious civilization and giving everything a spiritual overhaul. In the end people chose spiritualism over science, gratification over patience, pessimism over optimism, fractiousness over conformity, rage over friendliness, self over community.

The iGeneration isn’t full of negatives. Even though popular television shows such as “Gossip Girl” depict teenagers as sex-driven, drug using party animals, these shows are a pushing the limits to the very extreme and the vast majority of the iGeneration do not act in this way. More and more, sex and drugs have become family appropriate discussions, becoming more mainstream and less of a forbidden topic.

The iGeneration has grown up with more racially accepting views then the generation before them. They’re being raised in a time where the nation is being led by a black president and minorities are becoming majorities. Unlike previous generations where it was socially unacceptable to be friends with or go to school with someone outside your race, the iGeneration has been educated to have more racial acceptance.

These younger generations are looked at negatively because of their attitudes to certain things. Their lives are full of structured activities, and a number of social researchers anticipate members of Generation Z will have a strong social conscience and work ethic. It is these last two generations, Gen Y and Gen Z that may as well save the planet from human destruction. The iGeneration can have positive effects on the world and our civilization. They have the capability to save then depleting environment and human kind with new technological advances.

Pop culture has influenced the iGeneration to a great extent. Music and television influence teens to express themselves and also that drinking, drugs, and sex is the new age and cool thing to do. Just like Rosen said about individualism, teens like to set themselves apart at an early age and create their own image of who they are. More often you will see people in their late teens and early twenties with tattoos and multiple body piercings. It has become more socially accepted for people to express themselves with tattoos. Fifty years ago, the only people who had tattoos were military veterans, prisoners, and the few remaining from the Holocaust.

The Boomers decided that the famous Beatles lyrics “Let it Be” were words to live by. This caused arguments between the Boomer generation and their parents. In the later part of the Boomers’ golden year’s, sex, drugs, unemployment, and pessimism became the normal for most Americans of this generation. The older generations found their deviation and anti-governmentism appalling and didn’t understand how children who were suspected to be “perfect” could be influenced so much by the media and pop culture and new technology.

Does any of this sound familiar? The iGeneration is being looked at by their parents just like their grandparents had looked upon their children, as the dysfunctional technology based rebellious teenage dreamers who ‘Let it Be’.

The iGeneration grew up like any generation, with parents from both the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers. These two generations shaped the iGeneration’s childhood and future. The iGeneration shouldn’t be looked at as the downfall of us all and should be looked at as more of another generation that will affect the world like the ways the generations before did. Every generation has its ups and its downs. Just because kids today know how to talk and text at the same time doesn’t mean that their generation is a failure. Times are changing and people are made to adapt.