By Jazzmin Duncan
The Post Newspaper Contributing Writer
In classrooms, households, and even in the workplace, age can be the most notable factor that affects how people see and interact with each other. Ageism, discrimination based on age, is becoming a new topic for conversation. Growth in ageism is due to the growing disparities and cultural differences between age groups. These growing divides inspire the question. “what is the main point that everyone is disagreeing on?”
Galveston County Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z were all forthcoming with information to help answer that very question.
Tradition, faith, values remain anchors for Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers are those who were born between the years of 1946 and 1964. They are noted as being the pioneers of the second-wave feminism movement during the mid-20th century, as well as other social movements that redefined the core values of America. They are also noted as being the wealthiest generation, holding over half of the country’s wealth. Due to their cushy lives, they are stereotyped as spoiled, entitled, and ignorant.
Donna Gongora, a Baby Boomer, gave her input on the values and reputation of her generation. “Emphasis on God and family have gone down over time,” she observed. “Younger people aren’t as interested in them.”
Although Boomers led many social movements throughout the years, they still seem to have maintained the most traditional aspects of American society. Gongora also offered insight into the stereotypes regarding Boomers. Even though mostly negative stereotypes surround this elderly age group, Gongora believes that they are not misunderstood.
“Too many of us don’t want to listen and are quick to judge.”, she claimed, “There’s a lot of ignorance.”
Regarding other generations, Gongora didn’t have much to say outside of technological advancements changing the lifestyles of younger people. This sentiment was shared by Generation X members as well.
Generation X: More similar to Baby Boomers…almost
Generation X is the generation that directly follows Boomers. They range in birth year from 1965-1980. Generation X is generally seen as relatively docile, less materialistic, and mellow. GXer Alan Duncan offered his own opinions regarding the great generational divide. Similar to Boomers, concerning his generation’s core values, Duncan said, “Generation X has a lot more personal connects involved; family is more of a priority.”
The fact that his answer is similar to that of Gongora’s can be explained by the simple fact that since Gen X was raised by Boomers, Duncan and Gongora’s impressions of their generations line up as well.
Duncan explained, “Ignorance is a large issue. Because we were the first to be fully integrated, a lot of hate was taught.”
Although some answers line up between Boomers and Gen X, there are a few inequalities. Duncan sites the large difference in qualifications needed to succeed in life. “Not as many educational opportunities are available. It takes more to get a job now, and it’s hard.” He also stated that Generation X wasn’t misunderstood.
Overall, Generation X seems to be pretty similar to Boomers, just more frustrated by limited opportunities. This is a stark contrast to the sentiments of millennials, as they were raised in a completely different era.
Tech savvy, negative stereotypes hamper, help Millennials
If someone was born between the years of 1981 and 1997, they are considered a Millennial. Millennials grew up at the same time that technology began to take off. Cellphones, WIFI and all things electronic invaded the childhoods of Millennials. They were raised in a novel environment, and consequently, are now radically different from generations before. Whiny, lazy, and rebellious are adjectives that are typically used when describing them.
Of the interviews conducted, that of Millennial Zoe Chang, was the most emotionally charged. “Values of Millennials are centered around change and progression, for the most part,” said Chang. “People don’t see that though.” She expressed her frustration with the portrayal of Millennials in media saying, “Things like Buzzfeed and a lot of movies make us seem like babies obsessed with forced diversity when that’s literally not true.”
She expressed the belief that Boomers tend to misunderstand Millennials because of negative stereotypes surrounding Millennials, as well as their own unwillingness to listen. “Getting jobs, not even especially good ones, is so much harder now,” she vented. “It’s more expensive to get an education to be qualified, and the barrier to entry is really high in the job market.”
Throughout the interview, she expressed very strong feelings about Boomers and being misunderstood. These feelings of disdain towards Boomers are shared by Generation Z, the youngest generation.
Gen Z: Young, but want to be heard
Those born from 1998-2015 are considered Generation Z, or iGen. Social media dominates their day-to-day lives, trends controlling many of their activities. They are much like Millennials in that they grew up surrounded by the internet and have been heavily influenced by it since they were small. This also sets them far apart from both Boomers and Generation X.
“I feel like our generation is committed to expanding our enjoyment of life through social interaction,” Zack Donovan, a member of iGen disclosed. “We seem to perceive success through our social interactions and influence. I feel like older generations prioritized monetary achievements more.”
Christophe Merriam, another iGen member, told his thoughts on Boomers. “I strongly dislike boomers and generations before them because they like to blame us, the younger generation, for negative changes but in reality, nobody from my generation has had the chance to make a strong impact yet.”
Merriam, like Chang, expressed concern over the growing difficulty to get into good schools and get a job, “The college my mom attended on scholarship had a 45% acceptance rate but this past year it was 8%,” he said.
Understanding is as simple as listening
Through these interviews, it became apparent that the only barrier between different age groups is one of communication. Gongora, Chang, and Merriam all shared similar sentiments about the plugged ears of Boomers. This, along with the growing competitiveness for jobs and class positions, has caused aggression on the side of Millennials and iGen members, and annoyance from Boomers and Generation X as a reaction.
The core values of each generation don’t vary much at all. They all can be summed up into one theme: emphasis on the importance of valuable connections with the end goal of making the world a better place.
In reality, it’s not as much of a generational divide as there is a communication barrier.
Jazzmin Duncan is a Contributing Writer for The Post Newspaper. Ms. Duncan is an incoming Senior at Episcopal High School.