Generation Z - The Next Silent Generation (1995-2010)

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Generation Z - The Next Silent Generation (1995-2010)

Unread postby musicmonkey » Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:11 am

"Whatever is, has already been, and whatever will be, already is. God repeats what has passed." – Ecclesiastes 3:15

"Like the generations of leaves, the lives of mortal men. Now the wind scatters the old leaves across the earth, now the living timber bursts with the new buds and spring comes round again. And so with men: as one generation comes to life, another dies away." – Homer, The Illiad

For the past few years, I've become increasingly interested in studying generational differences and patterns. I am Generation X and am now middle-aged. Baby Boomers are finally starting to retire. My parents, members of the Silent Generation, are elderly. The profoundness of the cycle of life has hit me - my parents are at the end of their lives and I'm no longer a rebellious angsty twentysomething. I'm not even a thirtysomething. The Pursuit of Happiness told us we were adults in 1986 with their song "I'm An Adult Now" but we still felt like kids. Gen X, we're truly adults now!

In the early 90s, William Strauss and Neil Howe developed the Strauss–Howe generational theory which identifies a recurring generational cycle in North American history and is a fascinating read. In short, they discovered a pattern in the historical generations they examined which revolved around generational events which they call turnings. The First Turning is a High, the Second Turning is an Awakening, the Third Turning is an Unraveling and the Fourth Turning is a Crisis. Each turning lasts about 20–22 years and four turnings comprise a full cycle of approximately 80 to 90 years - "a long human life". As each generation ages into the next life phase and a new role in society, society's mood and behavior fundamentally changes, giving rise to a new turning. They also identified four generational archetypes that repeat sequentially with the cycle of Crises and Awakenings: Prophet (Idealist), Nomad (Reactive), Hero (Civic), and Artist (Adaptive).

Generation Z also known as The Next Silent Generation was born between 1995 and 2010. The first of them are now 20 years old, in our colleges and universities, and entering the workforce. According to Strauss–Howe generational theory, they have similar characteristics to my parents, the original Silent Generation. Like my parents they are the Artist (Adaptive) generational archetype and are taught to play by the rules.

My parents grew up while older people were fighting wars and making great sacrifices on their behalf. When they came of age after WWII, they "tiptoed cautiously in a post-crisis social order that no one wanted to disturb" as stated in The Lucky Few. It goes on to say that "Taught to play by the rules, this generation discovered at every age that playing by the rules always worked well for them."

A New York Times article called Generation OMG written in 2009 says that Neil Howe predicts that Generation Z "will come of age wanting to participate in a system they trust and take for granted" calling them "the next Silent Generation". The article goes on to say, "Regardless of their age, members of the recession generation will most likely be shaped by a return to Things That Matter, a re-definition of values."

Generation Z has known Google, MP3s, and USB flash drives all of their lives. Gen Z males are also pretty active on Reddit. generationzblog says, "They are predicted to be more cautious, more conservative and connected than ever with everyone around the globe."

I hope to continue this topic as Generation Z continues to come of age in the coming years. Feel free to join this discussion.

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