The American “Generations”

In the United States, we often talk about different generations and how they act in society.  Generations are groups of people who were born during a certain era. Usually, these groups are defined by particular events (For example: The Cold War) and possess many behavioral similarities.  For the purpose of this article, here are the generations which are still alive in the United States and how they are known.

The Greatest Generation – This generation includes people who were born between 1900 and 1924.  Why are they the “greatest” generation? Well, the author Tom Brokaw coined the term to pay tribute to those who suffered the aftermath of the Great Depression and still had to fight through World War II.  The term caught on very quickly and is still used today.  Many U.S. presidents are from this generation, such as John F. Kennedy.  

The Silent Generation – Members of this generation were born between 1925 and 1945.   There are many theories as to where this title originated. Many point to the characteristic that Americans born during this period were more “cautious” than their parents, having been brought up during economic depression and war.   Additionally, the reign of McCarthyism in America made many afraid to speak their beliefs in fears of being labelled “communist.”

Baby Boomers – These Americans were born between 1946 and 1964.  As you can imagine, the name “Baby Boomer” was created to represent the dramatic increase in births after World War II.  Barack Obama, George Bush, and Donald Trump are all members of this generation. This generation is talked about a lot in American popular culture as being unaware of the present realities of younger generations like Millennials and Generation Z.  In fact, a new expression “Ok, Boomer” was coined to “poke fun” at Boomers for this reason.  

Generation X – Members of Generation X were born between 1965 and 1980.  Children in this era were brought up an environment with increased divorce rates, the rising priority of individualism, and the sexual liberation movement.  They were the first generation to grow up after the abolishment of the racist Jim Crow Laws and witnessed firsthand the mass inclusion of women in the workforce.  

Millennials – This very well-known generation includes those born between 1981-1996.  This generation has a collective memory of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, and grew up alongside the development of the internet, cell phones, and other key technology.  Compared to previous generations, they are more educated, with 4 out of 10 possessing a Bachelor’s degree. Many millennials have been able to establish a more “flexible” workplace, even creating jobs on the internet.  However, unfortunately, many are bonded in the experience of crippling student debt and are on average poorer than Baby Boomers were at the same age.

Generation Z – The most recent generation which we can characterize is this one, born after 1996.  They were born into a technologically advanced society and know how to use technology in order to fuel their entrepreneurial mindset.  At the same time, many activists were born into this generation, from Greta Thunberg to Emma Gonzales. They are generally extremely cautious about preserving the environment and are great at multitasking.

So after reading these generational descriptions, which one do you fall into?  Do you believe that Poland has similar generational divides?  

Autor: Michael Antonio Kalmeta/blog.


To Coin – To create a new word, term, or expression

To Catch On – to become popular, widely-used

McCarthyism – Between the 1940s and 1950s, the U.S. senator Joseph McCarthy started a movement against communism amongst Americans which, unfortunately, resulted in people being labelled “communist” without any evidence.  Being labelled a communist had horrible consequences during this time in the United States. 

To Poke Fun – An expression which has the same meaning as “to make fun of”

Abolishment – the removal, end of a law or practice

Jim Crow Laws – laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States.  
Crippling – causing severe harm