Social Darwikians: 1983-92

By: Joshua Glenn
May 24, 2010

The cohort whose members are currently in their teens and early 20s, and who in the Twenty-Tens (2014-23; not to be confused with the 2010s) will graduate college, start careers, and generally come into their own, was miscategorized from the start.

In their 2000 bestseller Millennials Rising, the pop demographers William Strauss and Neil Howe claimed that a “Millennial Generation” was born between 1982 and 2000-ish. The catchy moniker came first and the sketchy periodization after that — Strauss and Howe picked 1982 for a cynical, self-serving reason having little to do with anything besides promoting their generational schema: Because men and women born that year would graduate from high school in the millennial year 2000. Why does anyone listen to these guys?

Journalists and marketers have adopted Strauss and Howe’s term, but because it’s an invented generation, the periodization has remained… fluid. The consumer research outfit Iconoculture, for example, claims that the first Millennials were born in ’78; Newsweek has described the Millennials as the cohort born between ’77 and ’94; and The New York Times, which prefers the equally bogus term “Generation Y,” has suggested, in various trend pieces, that the so-called Millennial cohort was born from 1976-90, from 1978-98, and “mostly in the 1980s and 1990s.” NOTE: There’s no such thing as the Millennial Generation, or Generation Y.

I wrote the original version of this post in 2008. At the time, I said that it felt wrong to comment on a generation whose oldest members were only in their mid-20s; at the time, their best-known members were all actors and musicians. Today, however, the generation boasts a number of figures well-known for other sorts of pursuit. At first, I dubbed this cohort the Throwbacks — because, back in the early 2000s, the rest of us were constantly being told how trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent these young folks were. In 2013, I re-dubbed them the Social Darwikians.

Notable Social Darwikians include: Aaron Swartz, Andrey Ternovskiy, Aziz Ansari, Chris (“We are the 99%” tumblr), Christina Xu, Christopher Poole (moot), Daniel Ek, Dizzee Rascal, Ellen Page, John Resig, Jon Johansen, Jonah Hill, Lady Gaga, Lindsay Lohan, Mark Zuckerberg, Micah White, Michael Cera, Michael Gregory, Miley Cyrus, Nate Blecharczyk, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Seth Rogen, and Tim Hwang.

PS: For some reason having to do with seismic cultural shifts the nature of which I am attempting to ascertain, the oldest members of this cohort — born in and around 1983 — normally would have been members of the Revivalist Generation. Instead, they became pioneers of the Social Darwikians cohort. Was it 9/11? Web 2.0? I’m open to opinions on the topic.


A reminder of my 250-year generational periodization scheme:

1755-64: [Republican Generation] Perfectibilists
1765-74: [Republican, Compromise Generations] Original Romantics
1775-84: [Compromise Generation] Ironic Idealists
1785-94: [Compromise, Transcendental Generations] Original Prometheans
1795-1804: [Transcendental Generation] Monomaniacs
1805-14: [Transcendental Generation] Autotelics
1815-24: [Transcendental, Gilded Generations] Retrogressivists
1825-33: [Gilded Generation] Post-Romantics
1834-43: [Gilded Generation] Original Decadents
1844-53: [Progressive Generation] New Prometheans
1854-63: [Progressive, Missionary Generations] Plutonians
1864-73: [Missionary Generation] Anarcho-Symbolists
1874-83: [Missionary Generation] Psychonauts
1884-93: [Lost Generation] Modernists
1894-1903: [Lost, Greatest/GI Generations] Hardboileds
1904-13: [Greatest/GI Generation] Partisans
1914-23: [Greatest/GI Generation] New Gods
1924-33: [Silent Generation] Postmodernists
1934-43: [Silent Generation] Anti-Anti-Utopians
1944-53: [Boomers] Blank Generation
1954-63: [Boomers] OGXers
1964-73: [Generation X, Thirteenth Generation] Reconstructionists
1974-82: [Generations X, Y] Revivalists
1983-92: [Millennial Generation] Social Darwikians
1993-2002: [Millennials, Generation Z] TBA

LEARN MORE about this periodization scheme | READ ALL generational articles on HiLobrow.


Meet the Social Darwikians.

HONORARY SOCIAL DARWIKIANS (born 1982): Micah White (activist, came up with the idea for Occupy Wall Street), Seth Rogen (actor), Dennis M. Moran (hacker, also known as Coolio; denial-of-service attacks), Evan Goldberg (Seth Rogen’s writing partner), Martin Starr (actor, Freaks and Geeks), Jay Baruchel (actor), Cory Monteith (actor, Glee), Kate Middleton (Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge).

1983: Chris (activist, started the “We Are the 99%” tumblr), Jonah Hill (actor), Aziz Ansari (comic, actor), Alexis Ohanian (geek, Reddit, Breadpig, Hipmunk, Y Combinator), Steve Huffman (geek, Reddit, Hipmunk), Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp (founded Pinterest), Daniel Ek (founded Spotify), Jonathan James (hacker, known as c0mrade; the first juvenile incarcerated for cybercrime in the United States), Kim Swift (project lead, Portal), Ben Milne (founded Dwolla), Lucas Buick and Ryan Dorshorst (founded Hipstamatic), Joe Green (programmer, NationBuilder; was Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard roommate), Nate Blecharczyk (programmer, Airbnb), Hugh Evans (social entrepreneur, The Global Poverty Project), Latoya Peterson (blogger, Racialicious), Drew Houston (cofounded Dropbox), David Cho (media entrepreneur, publisher of The Awl), Marina Kim (social entrepreneur, Ashoka U), Lily Liu (social entrepreneur, PublicStuff), JR (guerrilla artist), Kevin Systrom (founded Instagram), John Hering (cyber-security: Mobile Threat Network), Taylor Hanson (frontman, Hanson), Emily Blunt (actor), Peter Deng (director of product management at Facebook), Kate Bosworth (actor, Wonderland), Jon Johansen (programmer, wrote the DeCSS program to decrypt DVDs), Andrew Garfield (actor), Greta Gerwig (actor), Alexander Wang (fashion designer), Donald Glover (actor), Mamie Gummer (actor, Meryl Streep’s daughter), Gabourey Sidibe (actor, Precious), Pippa Middleton (British socialite), Michelle Branch (singer/songwriter), Virgil Griffith (programmer, WikiScanner), Nicky Hilton (heiress), Dustin Pedroia (baseball player), Yung Joc (rapper), Chris Hemwsorth (actor, Thor), Sherman Austin (Activist,, Ari Berman (journalist), Leelee Sobieski (actor), Amber Tamblyn (actor), Aaron Rodgers (football player), Carrie Underwood (American Idol winner), Miguel Cabrera (baseball player), Maggie Grace (actor, Lost), Michael Carneal (school shooter), Andrew Wurst (school shooter), George Zimmerman (killed Trayvon Martin). HONORARY REVIVALISTS: Amy Winehouse (singer), Mila Kunis (actor, Jackie on That ’70s Show), Jesse Eisenberg (actor, Wonderland, The Social Network).

1984: Mark Zuckerberg (founder, Facebook), Nicki Minaj (pop musician), Katy Perry (pop musician), Scarlett Johansson (actor), Michael Gregory (Autotune the News), Randall Munroe (geek, cartoonist: xkcd), John Resig (programmer, lead developer of the jQuery JavaScript library), Adam DeVine (comic, Workaholics), Blake Anderson (comic, Workaholics), Jude Gomila (geek, Heyzap), Chris Harrison (human-computer interaction: Touché, Skinput), Carly Cushnie (fashion designer), Kyle Newacheck (director, Workaholics), Aubrey Plaza (comic, actor, Parks and Rec), Maria Popova (media entrepreneur, Brain Pickings), Kim Jong Un (head of state, North Korea), Eric Koger & Susan Gregg Koger (ModCloth), Jeremy Johnson (education activist, 2u), Daniel Stephens and Joseph Ray (dubstep: Nero), Jiquan Ngiam (education activist, Coursera), Pratheev Sreetharan (tiny pop-up machines), Seth Bannon and Ben Lamothe (social entrepreneurs, Amicus), Michael Calce (hacker, known as MafiaBoy; denial-of-service attacks), Avril Lavigne (pop star), Amanda Hocking (super-successful YA paranormal romance author), Kelly Osbourne (TV personality), Will Byrne (social entrepreneur, Groundswell), Patrick Stump and Joe Trohman (musicians, Fall Out Boy), Fantasia Barrino and Katharine Hope McPhee (American Idol stars), Mandy Moore (singer), Matt Mullenweg (entrepreneur, founding developer of WordPress), Paul Dano (actor, Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood), Helen Oyeyemi (British novelist), Duffy (Welsh singer-songwriter), Khloé Kardashian (reality TV star), America Ferrera (actress, Ugly Betty), Noah Fleiss (actor, Brick, Josh and S.A.M.), Lucas Grabeel (actor, High School Musical), Prince Harry (British royalty), Karolina Kurkova (supermodel), Adam Lamberg (actor, Gordo on Lizzie McGuire), James O’Keefe (conservative activist, ACORN sting video), Omarion (musician), Ashlee Simpson (singer), Rachael Taylor (actor), Olivia Wilde (actor), Eva Marcille (actor, winner of America’s Next Top Model), Dana Davis (actor, Heroes), Ryan Lochte (Olympic swimmer), LeBron James (basketball star), Seung-Hui Cho (school shooter, Virginia Tech Massacre), Nick Lazzarini (dancer, So You Think You Can Dance winner), Martha MacIsaac (actress, Superbad), Naima Mora (model, winner of America’s Next Top Model), Tyson Ritter (frontman, All-American Rejects), Benji Schwimmer (dancer, So You Think You Can Dance winner), Jena Malone (actress, Donnie Darko), Christy Carlson Romano (actor, voice of Kim Possible), Amanda Hearst (model, heiress), Liesel Matthews (actress, heiress), Melody Thornton (singer, Pussycat Dolls), Anneliese van der Pol (actress, singer), Adina Fohlin (model), Ai Tominaga (model), Chiaki Kuriyama (actress, Kill Bill), Laura Vandervoort (actress, Supergirl on Smallville).

1985: Dizzee Rascal (British garage rapper), Melody Gardot (musician), Andrew Alan Escher Auernheimer (hacker, known as weev; self-described Internet troll), Pete Cashmore (media entrepreneur, Mashable), Clark Duke (actor, Kick-Ass; with Michael Cera, created the web series Clark and Michael), Keira Knightley (actor), Lady Sovereign (British rapper), Brian Bordainick (education activist, 4.0 Schools), Rooney Mara (actor), Raven-Symoné (actor, That’s So Raven), Mohamed Bouazizi (martyr, set off the Arab Spring), Lily Allen (British singer), Arash Ferdowsi (cofounded Dropbox), Alexander Garfield (Evil Geniuses, pro videogame team), Cristiano Ronaldo (soccer star), Bruno Mars (musician), Michelle Trachtenberg (actor, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Ciara (Crunk&B singer), Haylie Duff (actor), David Gallagher (actor, Simon on 7th Heaven), Zac Hanson (musician, Hanson), Tina Majorino (actor, Napoleon Dynamite), Kris Allen (musician, American Idol winner), Crystal Bowersox (musician, American Idol), Lee Malvo (one of two Washington Snipers), Frankie Muñiz (actor, Malcolm on Malcolm in the Middle, racecar driver), Emile Hirsch (actor), Jack Osbourne (reality TV figure), Michael Phelps (Olympic swimmer), Amanda Seyfried (actor, Mean Girls, Big Love), Ashley Tisdale (actor, High School Musical, Maddie on Zack and Cody), Dan Byrd (actor, Heroes), Drew Sidora (actress, That’s So Raven), Dani Evans (model, winner of America’s Next Top Model), Jessica Szohr (actress, Vanessa Abrams on Gossip Girl), CariDee English (model, winner of America’s Next Top Model), Chace Crawford (actor, Nate Archibald on Gossip Girl), Douglas Smith (actor, Big Love), Isabel Lucas (Australian actress), Tom Fletcher (frontman, McFly), Charlie Simpson (frontman, Fightstar).

1986: Aaron Swartz (computer programmer, co-invented RSS; open-access activist), Lady Gaga (singer), Lindsay Lohan (actor), David Karp (founded Tumblr), Amber Case (geek, cofounded Geoloqi), Lea Michele (actor, Glee), Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen (actors, businesswomen), Robert Pattinson (actor, Edward in Twilight), Dianna Agron (actor, Glee), Lana Del Rey (singer), Nic Borg (education activist, Edmodo), Lena Dunham (actor, director), Jwoww (reality TV actor, Jersey Shore), Matt Charles (videogame producer, Borderlands 2), Charlyne Yi (actress, comic, Paper Heart), Erica Berger (media entrepreneur, Storyful), Lee DeWyze (musician, American Idol), Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (Nigerian underwear bomber), Ellie Goulding (English musician), Mischa Barton (actor, Marissa Cooper on The O.C.), Drake Bell (Actor, Drake and Josh), Jamie Bell (actor), Elijah Kelley (actor), Justin Berfield (actor, Reese on Malcolm in the Middle), Usain Bolt (Olympic sprinter), Amanda Bynes (actor), Lauren Conrad (TV Personality), Megan Fox (actor), J-Kwon (rapper), Solange Knowles (pop star), Shia LaBeouf (actor), Leighton Meester (actor, Gossip Girl), Heidi Montag (TV Personality), Rafael Nadal (tennis star), Josh Peck (actor, Drake and Josh), James and Oliver Phelps (actors, Fred and George Weasley in Harry Potter), Kellie Pickler (country singer, American Idol), Emmy Rossum (actor), Brittany Snow (actor), Shaun White (snowboarder), Olesya Rulin (actor, High School Musical), Ashley Alexandra Dupre (prostitute), Raviv Ullman (actor, Phil on Phil of the Future).

1987: Ellen Page (actress, Juno), Tim Hwang (geek, ROFLCon, Awesome Foundation), Diana Kimball (ROFLCon), Flourish Klink (fan fiction), Zac Efron (actor, High School Musical), Evan Rachel Wood (actor, Thirteen, The Wrestler), Snooki (reality TV actor, Jersey Shore), McKay Coppins (politics editor of BuzzFeed), Bradley Manning (US Army infantryman accused of leaking an almost unfathomably huge quantity of classified material to the whistleblower website Wikileaks), James Holmes (Aurora Theater shooter), Abby Elliott (comic, Saturday Night Live), Katie Leung (actor, Harry Potter movies), Hilary Duff (actor, pop star), Aaron Carter (singer), Chris Crocker (performance artist), Wiz Khalifa (rapper), Tom Felton (actor, Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter films), Ana Ivanovic (tennis star), Kevin Jonas (musician, The Jonas Brothers), Blake Lively (actor, Gossip Girl), Jesse McCartney (singer), William Moseley (actor, The Chronicles of Narnia), Carrie Prejean (Miss California USA 2009, dethroned), Maria Sharapova (tennis star), Elizabeth Smart (kidnap victim), Joss Stone (singer), Kaavya Viswanathan (YA novelist, alleged plagiarist), Bow Wow (rapper), Jessica Lee Rose (lonelygirl15), Brendan Urie (singer, Panic! at the Disco), Charlotte Kemp Muhl (model who dates Sean Lennon), Anne Suzuki (Japanese actress), Daniel Logan (actor, young Boba Fett), Gemma Ward (model)

1988: Christina Xu (geek, Institute of Higher Awesome Studies, ROFLCon co-founder, Breadpig), Christopher Poole (known as moot; internet entrepreneur: 4chan, Canvas), Rihanna (singer), Michael Cera (actor, George-Michael Bluth on Arrested Development), Skrillex (electronic music producer), James Blake (post-dubstep musician), Danielle Fong (inventor, cofounded LightSail Energy), Leandra Medine (fashion blogger, Man Repeller), Anthony Burch (videogame writer, Borderlands 2), Leah Hennessey (frontwoman, Make Out), Rupert Grint (actor, Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter series), B.O.B. (rapper, ambassador for VH1’s Save The Music Foundation), Emma Stone (actor, Superbad), Vanessa Anne Hudgens (actor, singer, High School Musical), Adele (British soul revivalist), Jared Loughner (Tucson Safeway shooter), Emily Browning (actor, A Series of Unfortunate Events), Sasha Grey (pornstar, The Girlfriend Experience), Haley Joel Osment (actor), Anna Popplewell (actor, Chronicles of Narnia), Ghyslain Raza (meme, The Star Wars Kid), Nikki Reed (actor, Twilight movies; co-wrote Thirteen), Alexa Vega (actor, Spy Kids), Mae Whitman (actor), Rumer Willis (daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore), Brenda Song (actor, plays London on The Suite Life of Zack & Cody), Billy Gilman (country singer), Brady Corbet (actor), Caleigh Peters (Disney musician), Skye Sweetnam (Disney musician)

1989: Christopher Mintz-Plasse (actor, Superbad), Daniel Radcliffe (actor, Harry in Harry Potter movies), George Hotz (alias geohot, hacker; known for unlocking the iPhone, hacking the PlayStation 3), Kristina Vladimirovna Svechinskaya (Russian money mule hacker), Hayden Panettiere (actor, indestructable cheerleader on Heroes), Alia Shawkat (actor, Maeby on Arrested Development, Whip It!), Corbin Bleu (actor, High School Musical), Ryne Sanborn (actor, High School Musical), Matthew Lewis (actor, Neville in the Harry Potter movies), Paula DeAnda (Mexican-American pop singer), Peaches Geldof (socialite daughter of Bob Geldof), Joshua Allen (dancer, So You Think You Can Dance winner), Russell Ferguson (dancer, So You Think You Can Dance winner), David Henrie (actor, Wizards of Waverly Place), Nicholas Hoult (actor, About A Boy), Joe Jonas (musician, The Jonas Brothers), Bill Kaulitz (frontman, Tokio Hotel), Brie Larson (actor, Hoot, Cody Linley (actor, Jake Ryan on Hannah Montana), Jake Lloyd (actor, Anakin Skywalker in Episode I), Sanjaya Malakar (loved/hated singer, American Idol), Lil’ Romeo (rapper), Mackenzie Rosman (actor, Ruthie Camden on 7th Heaven), Ryan Sheckler (skateboarder), Jordin Sparks (winner, 6th season American Idol), Taylor Swift (country musician), Michelle Wie (golfer), Chris Brown (R&B singer), Chanel Iman (fashion model), Brie Larson (actor, singer), Kimmie Meissner (figure skater)

1990: Kristen Stewart (actor, Twilight movies, Adventureland), Mia Wasikowska (actor), Emma Watson (actor, Hermione in Harry Potter movies), Chris Colfer (actor, Glee), Zach Sims (founder, Codeacademy), Jake Thomas (actor, Lizzie McGuire), Liam Aiken (actor, A Series of Unfortunate Events), Catharine Bellinger and Alexis Morin (cofounders, Students for Education Reform), David Archuleta (singer, American Idol winner), JoJo (singer), Bristol Palin (Sarah Palin’s daughter), Dev Patel (actor, Slumdog Millionaire), JonBenét Ramsey (victim), Connor Paolo (actor, Gossip Girl), Bethany Hamilton (surfer who survived a shark attack), Jonathan Lipnicki (actor, Ray in Jerry Maguire), Q’Orianka Kilcher (actor, Pocahontas in The New World)

1991: Tyler Crotty (Bored Bush Kid meme), Erik Per Sullivan (actor, Dewey on Malcolm in the Middle), Dale Stephens (education activist, UnCollege), Bonnie Wright (actor, Ginny in Harry Potter movies), Evanna Lynch (actor, Luna in Harry Potter movies), Jeanine Mason (dancer, So You Think You Can Dance winner), Jamie Lynn Spears (sister of Britney Spears), Jonah Meyerson (actor, played Uzi in The Royal Tenenbaums), Dyllan Christopher (actor, Unaccompanied Minors), Joey Gaydos (actor, Zack Mooneyham in School of Rock), Skandar Keynes (actor, Edmund in The Chronicles of Narnia), Emma Roberts (actor, Nancy Drew in Nancy Drew), Carter Jenkins (actor)

1992: Miley Cyrus (actor, singer, Hannah Montana), Andrey Ternovskiy (Russian programmer, Chatroulette), Taylor Lautner (actor, Sharkboy and Lavagirl, Twilight movies), Frances Bean Cobain (Kurt and Courtney’s child), Adam Lanza (Newtown school shooter), Selena Gomez (actor, Wizards of Waverly Place), Josh Hutcherson (actor, Bridge to Terabithia), Nick Jonas (musician, The Jonas Brothers), Daryl Sabara (actor, Spy Kids), Cole and Dylan Sprouse (actor, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody), Tyler James Williams (actor, plays Chris on Everybody Hates Chris), Tequan Richmond (actor, plays Drew on Everybody Hates Chris), Jennette McCurdy (actor, Sam on iCarly). HONORARY GENERATION TBA (born 1992): TBA

HONORARY SOCIAL DARWIKIANS (born 1993): Miranda Cosgrove (Drake & Josh, Carly on iCarly), Scotty McCreery (American Idol contestant)


Below are notes from previous versions of this post.


“I really enjoyed your series on generations, but don’t you think in the light of recent events (both globally and in the US) Millennials should be reexamined?” writes a Polish reader of HiLobrow. “I agree with majority of [what you wrote], but you miss cynicism and distance that I think is response to factors that you correctly identify (‘DISNEYFICATION’). Or maybe those where not visible from outer perspective at the time you wrote this article. Anyway, we are as pissed as you were when you were young ;), and we intend to fix things up. Not that we know how. Yet.”

Excerpt from a fair-minded opinion piece in the International Herald Tribune, on Oct. 21, 2011:

If the Occupy Wall Street protests were a band, I’d say the closest corollary would probably be the legendary ’90s grunge band Nirvana — both meaningful and murky, tapping into a national angst and hopelessness, providing a much-needed catharsis and gaining a broad and devoted following while quickly becoming the voice of a generation.

Stay tuned for further developments.


“Meet the Millennials, and rejoice,” wrote Anna Quindlen in the January 1, 2000 issue of Newsweek. Strauss and Howe claim the Millennials “are on track to become a powerhouse generation, full of technology planners, community shapers, institution builders, and world leaders.”

As a Reconstructionist, I’m hardwired to be both awe-stricken by and scornful of what they tell me is your edgeless perfection — in fact, isn’t that the premise of entertainments like School of Rock and Arrested Development? If what journalists say about this generation is true, it’s… too good to be true.

During the Fifties (1954-63), the Walt Disney Co. achieved a hegemonic grip on the imaginative life of that decade’s children and adolescents — i.e., the Boomers. In 1954, Walt Disney unveiled Disneyland Park; and throughout the decade, Disney’s weekday afternoon children’s program, The Mickey Mouse Club, and its animated and live-action TV specials and movies (including Lady and the Tramp, the Davy Crockett movies, Johnny Tremain, The Shaggy Dog, Swiss Family Robinson, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Parent Trap, and The Sword in the Stone defined middlebrow values — i.e., slightly conservative, slightly liberal. Following the death of Uncle Walt in ’64, the brand began to tank; OGXers and Reconstructionists were raised to think of the adjective “Disneyfied” as a pejorative referring to a fairy tale, national culture, or real-world locale that’s been repackaged in a sanitized and commodified form. Worse, Jean Baudrillard described Disneyland as a simulation that had come to “precede” (trump) that which it simulated, i.e., America.

But Disney has made a comeback! Just like it Disneyfied New York’s Times Square, the company has Disneyfied the worldview of Social Darwikians. Launched in ’83, The Disney Channel gave us the canned heat of Fergie and Jennifer Love Hewitt via the sitcom-cum-music-video Kids Incorporated; and its show The All-New Mickey Mouse Club foisted two-dimensional spectacles like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Justin Timberlake upon us. Despite warnings from Linda Lee, Douglas Coupland, and others about the bubblegum-ization of the Revivalist generation, though, that cohort didn’t turn out so squeaky clean. So perhaps it’s premature to draw conclusions from the two-dimensionality of the stars of Disney Channel shows like Even Stevens (Shia LaBeouf), Lizzie McGuire (Hilary Duff), That’s So Raven (Raven-Symoné), Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus), The Suite Life of Zack & Cody (Cole and Dylan Sprouse), not to mention the Disney Channel movie High School Musical (Zac Efron, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale) and the pseudo-cool, Disney-produced Jonas Brothers.


Disney’s influence has been indirect, as well as direct; this is the definition of hegemony. Nickelodeon has given us the stars of Drake & Josh (Drake Bell and Josh Peck), The Amanda Show“(Amanda Bynes), and Zoey 101 (Britney’s sister Jamie Lynn Spears). Female Social Darwikians have been inundated with princessiana: Mandy Moore (supporting role in The Princess Diaries), Hilary Duff (A Cinderella Story, plus she’s sort of a princess in Material Girls and The Lizzie McGuire Movie), Amanda Bynes (What A Girl Wants), Michelle Trachtenberg (Ice Princess). Globe film critic Ty Burr pointed out that

the most successful TV shows aimed at young girls today push the personal-celebrity meme with a vengeance: Nickelodeon’s “iCarly” is about a schoolgirl with a globally popular website, and in the omnipresent, omnipotent “Hannah Montana,” Miley Cyrus plays an average kid by day who’s a rock ‘n’ roll superstar by night. For millions of tweenage girls singing into their hairbrushes in front of mirrors, this isn’t fantasy – it’s their inner lives sold like shirts at Delia’s.

Why shouldn’t Social Darwikians be good kids? After all, their Boomer and OGXer parents were and remain obsessed with parenting. Throughout their formative years, Social Darwikians’ moms tirelessly carpooled them to practices and games, not to mention the community service projects that became para-mandatory for American youth around that time. In the early 2000s, college administrators began to complain about “helicopter parents,” who stay in close touch with Social Darwikians undergrads via cellphone, visit campus every weekend, and run interference for them with the administration. (“Black Hawks” is what we call those those parents who cross the line — for example, by writing their children’s college application essays for them.) Reportedly, the parents of the oldest Social Darwikians have now taken to calling businesses to negotiate internships and jobs on behalf of their children.

Adolescents of the previous few generations were either prematurely grown-up (cynical OGXers, hyper-articulate Revivalists), or else they refused ever to stop being adolescents (“rejuvenile” Reconstructionists). Social Darwikian adolescents are something new: “tweens.” Adopted in the Nineties by marketers, the term refers to children between the ages of 8 and 14 who demand (and are granted) the privileges of teendom without its responsibilities or anxieties. They own cellphones, video games, and iPods; they have access to the Internet and email, and they shop online. “The message this group is receiving is that the country is in great shape,” Teen-Age Research Unlimited told the Times in 1998. “The economy is not an issue for their parents, so therefore it is not an issue for them. They are not being told no as much as Generation X was.”




What do you think?

  1. As Mouseketeer Lonnie, 1 of 4 boys, of 39 kids during the run of the original “Mickey Mouse Club” (1955-59) to last the entire run, I must quote Santyana: “Those who forget the past* are doomed to repeat it.” *usually misquoted as “history”, not past. The “Disneyland” TV show premiered in 1954. Disneyland opened June 17, 1955 and was the first television show the Mouseketeers appeared. The MMC premiered October 3, 1955, the same day as “Captain Kangaroo”, and reflected the America of that time although seminal and going beyond other TV by have Jews, Catholics, Hispanics and Black kids on for the first time.s Lonnie Burr –, memoir “Confessions of an Accidental Mouseketeer” published 2009.

  2. Best comment ever posted to HiLobrow! I just want to clarify that Walt Disney unveiled Disneyland in ’54 on his TV show; the park opened, as Lonnie points out, in ’55. Also: Middlebrow is an inclusive, all-embracing, globalizing force; its anthem could be “It’s a Small World, After All.”

  3. I think you need to reconsider your analysis; you’ve sipped the purple Kool Aid of Strauss and Howe and are seeing a cycle that isn’t there. This cohort should be called the Awkward Generation. Look at the hunched shoulders, the mumbling diction and the fear of eye contact. Helicopter parenting and social media has turned them into a generation of dorks. They’ve started no cussing clubs!!!!

    There’s not one cool kid in the bunch. Their Rock Stars don’t rock, their debauched movie stars are goofy and their vampires are vegan. Even when they try to stand out like Lady Gaga or Rihanna, they still come across as total dweebs.

    To prove my point just ask yourself who would win in a fight. Madonna V. Lady Gaga, Pee Wee Herman V. Michael Cera, Backstreet Boyz V. Jonas Bros. One of the Coreys V. the Beiber.

    Generation doofus might work also. These kids have killed cool.

  4. Disagree, Sickmon. There’s a undercurrent to this cohort–I’d like to say subcultural but it’s not–that is “cool” in a very quiet way (and I’m not just sayin’ this because I’ve got a son who’s in this demographic.) So, speaking from the very narrow perspective of the anthropological trenches, I notice that this group has taken the concept of mixing, sampling, etc. stripped it of its pastiche, postmodern sheen, and uses it to communicate in almost secret code. The code is largely sincere, not in a reactionary way (i.e, irony sucks) but in a sort of naive, even sad way. I think the most notable feature is the virtual elimination of the generation gap, which is maybe why some of them come across as dweebs and dorks. But beneath the surface, there is that sincerity again (the Obama effect?) which, as this cohort begins to assume roles of leadership and power, may have a profound cultural effect.

    This cohort is “nice.” It’s easy to diss nice, I know. But beneath the nice is a sort of quiet contemplation of a generation disconnected from its cultural and media idols, who after all were not created by them, but by older handlers, publicists, etc. You know, the culture industry. This group sees themselves represented in Drake & Josh, Dana Davis, Jena Malone, etc.

    Which brings me back to sadness. On one level, this group seems, as Sickmon says, awkward and dweeby. But beneath that is a lurking sadness. Why? I’m not completely sure, but I think it has something to do with the fact that there is so little lag time between ideas and the publicity of ideas, made possible by the usual social/networked media apparati (Facebook, etc.). The radically speedy flux of information and identity shifting has given pause to many of them.

    They search for the pause button.

  5. I don’t think you really disagreed much with me. Your point about sadness seems close to the truth. I would add fear. Their “niceness” seems to come from fear, sadness and a lack of confidence.

    The elimination of the generation gap seems to come from a need for approval. Sincerity is a horrible virtue, Nazis and Hippies were sincere. As a Reconstructionist, I find sincerity repulsive. Of what value is “nice”?

    I also don’t sense any contemplation when I talk to these kids, just resignation and acquiescence. Anyways, I don’t think these kids are a throwback to anything; they are an entirely new awkward thing.

  6. I had a feeling that a rejuvenated Disney inspired Umair Farouk Abdumutallab.

    Jeez, my son’s on the cusp of this generation. He hates their nice.

  7. Well, the abolitionists, civil right movement folks, suffragists were sincere, too, I think.

    If you don’t define it in a snarky, dismissive way, niceness ain’t so bad, all things considered. But who am I to say? I’ve failed at niceness all my life.

  8. The guiding principle of my generation, as I see it, is preparation: my habits are somewhat analogous to my(Reconstructionist) stepfather’s hoarding of nonperishables behind the basement walls. We’ve breezed through the milestones of our young adulthood with all the agency of a child signing giftcards purchased for them, never quite believing, or being asked to believe in ourselves (and all under the ghost glare of childhood massmedia self empowerment fireworks, from Captain Planet to the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens) . Too young for the utopian backdraft of the early ’90s, but just young enough for the subsequent apocalypses, not to mention the middlebrow, Pixar ethic of individualism. We are unlettered érudits in our consumption of cultural media- music, video games, books, so far from constituting atoms of self expression, are instead arranged as core curricula, traditions to be studiously assuaged before the Fall., Mostly unappealing, Throwbacks nonetheless have been better inoculated against middlebrow by the excesses of their seniors, Middlebrow double agents par excellence.

  9. – If there is generally an insecurity in Throwbacks, I would think it comes from a collective attempt to ‘act’ mature, as this comic strip ( puts (To the best of my knowledge, the writer is a Throwback). The fear is that we ever be recognized as faking it.

    -I wonder how the “quarter-life crisis” relates to the Throwbacks and their immediate elders(Can’t find any real references to it until 2001, so it might encompass some tail-end/cusper Recons). Here’s a few thoughts(correct me if I’m wrong on any of this):One thing that I noted earlier is that each of the generations that put middlebrow on top had a intense collective moment around their 20’s. Each of these moments gained their impetus from non-middlebrows However, in the current day, middlebrow has been dominant for long enough such that any such defining moment occurring is a near impossibility. Perhaps this is related to the ‘life/4 crisis’ in that it is created by the expectations of an intense defining moment, but maybe it’s just a new name created by the MBM for something that OGXers(?)/Recons experienced to separate Revivalists/Throwbacks. Also note those Throwbacks having an impact now are almost by definition not going through this. Of course, most of this is assuming that I’m talking about a real phenomenon.

  10. Could there be anything more “middlebrow” than this kind of amateur pop sociology?

  11. You’re missing the point — this project is a thumb in the eye to pop sociology. It’s not middlebrow to suggest that decades, and associated generations, run from a “4” year to a “3” year — it’s insane.

  12. As a fellow Throwback, born in ’88 right in the middle of the scheme, I agree with Jason about preparation. Us young ones look into the future and see Apocalypse, Global Crisis, rather than the endless, changing present continuing to surge forth that previous gens have seen. Compared to that reality, the reality that for us the future will look and feel entirely different and probably worse, rebelling against our parents or what came before us seems…silly. Why not be sincere? Pretense wastes time and we have little of it left. Why not be “nice,” if that’s what revealing our vulnerability (ala Michael Cera) means?

    I also don’t agree that someone like Lady Gaga is anti-Throwback. She’s utterly sincere in her performative fluidity. I feel the same about mine.

    Oh, finally–we love Disney, yes, it defines our childhood. It’s fun, it’s escapist, but it’s utterly meaningless, and we all take it with a huge grain of salt. It was spoon-fed to us, with the underlying assumption that children couldn’t handle depth, and we’re growing out of it. Like fast food, we know it’s wrong, and we’ll try to be better and escape the capitalist machine…but (and I’m not proud of it) we justify our intake as “ironic,” like the hipsters who I’m ashamed to admit are of my generation, because we feel we have no choice. Everything we do as privileged global Northers is ethically wrong, and we’ve grown up knowing it.

    Just my two cents…

  13. The New Yorker has chosen its “20 Under 40” list of fiction writers worth watching.

    Four of them are Reconstructionists: Chris Adrian (1970), Gary Shteyngart (1972), Sarah Shun-lien Bynum (1972), Yiyun Li (1972).

    Eight of them are Revivalists: Nell Freudenberger (1975), Rivka Galchen (1976), C. E. Morgan (1976), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (1977), Daniel Alarcón (1977), Jonathan Safran Foer (1977), Dinaw Mengestu (1978), and Karen Russell (1981).

    Seven of them are born on the cusp between the Reconstructionists and Revivalists: David Bezmozgis (1973), Wells Tower (1973), Z Z Packer (1973), Joshua Ferris (1974), Nicole Krauss (1974), Philipp Meyer (1974), Salvatore Scibona (1974 or 1975).

    One of them is a Throwback: Téa Obreht (1985).

  14. I’m not convinced. This whole generation scheme of yours is based on nothing more than projection and cherry-picking. As a so-called throwback, I spent my teen years actively ignoring Disney and engaging in what you describe as “Revivalist” activities such as appreciating classic video games and cartoons from the 80’s and 90’s, and applying a thick layer of cynical irony to most of what you described as my generation’s golden idols. And I was not alone.

    I see there as being a reemergence of cynicism in people my age as well. Obama, the man other throwbacks and revivalists elected to make up for the failures of the Bush administration has only made things worse. As I result, more people my age are becoming more and more conservative, while still prolonging their youth and maintaining an appreciation for video games and cartoons(as did the “Revivalists”).

  15. As a member of this cycle, I adored this generational schema until I read what you have to say here.

    We were described as New Gods because our parents are Boomers and they couldn’t bear the idea that any of us are going to end up like Lady Gaga. We do like to work within systems, yes– we find solidity and charismatic leadership attractive.

    …But you’ve failed to analyze what growing up during a period of post-9/11 global aggressive warfare has done to us. We want people to tell us that everything will be all right– because the world is changing fast, much faster than it did during our childhood in the ninties, and most of us are still powerless to influence it. It’s a paralytic feeling. We feel trapped and drugged.

    And you would too, dweebiness or not.

  16. I tried to make it clear that it’s nearly impossible to describe the Throwbacks yet — the generation hasn’t done anything yet. Its only well-known members are young musicians (and therefore mostly of Disney variety) and child actors (ditto). Some members are ironic, others earnest; until this generation produces intellectuals, authors, directors, aritsts, and so forth, it’s tough to say what its dominant characteristics will be.

  17. Here’s a New York Times trend piece on the so-called “Tell-All Generation,” in their 20s in 2010. Excerpt: “In a new study to be released this month, the Pew Internet Project has found that people in their 20s exert more control over their digital reputations than older adults, more vigorously deleting unwanted posts and limiting information about themselves.”

  18. Here’s a New York Times “The Way We Live Now” trend piece on the so-called “Why-Worry Generation.” excerpt: “I interviewed nine students recommended to me by college professors and officials, yielding a picture of emerging adults with a striking ability to keep self-doubt — and deep discouragement — at bay. Many were jobless, others were dissatisfied with their work or graduate-school choices, yet they didn’t blame themselves if life failed to meet their expectations. They didn’t call into question their choices or competencies. It was as if all the cries of “Good job!” they heard as children armed them against the repeated blows of frustration and rejection now coming their way.”

  19. Here’s a New York Times “Cultural Studies” trend piece on the so-called “Glee Generation.” Excerpt: “Something weird and profound has happened in the four years since the original ‘High School Musical’ movie was first shown on the Disney Channel and surprised everyone, including Disney, with its smash success: the musical-theater idiom has regained its currency, and is enjoying what may be its greatest popularity among young people since the pre-rock era. We’re raising a generation of Broadway babies.”

  20. We secretly hate all of you old people because you base your opinions of us on the worst of our pop-culture, mostly manufactured by our senior generations for the youngest of us.

  21. Also our parents are mostly OGXERs, who don’t make the greatest parents. They’re perpetually divorcing and remarrying and moving from town to town and job to job. Many of us seem like good kids only because we’re on Ritalin or Dex or Effexor or whatever. And we’ve had heavy doses of fear throughout our adolescence. We have all this underlying anxiety about the world we live in, we’re afraid of the climate and terrorists and plagues and meteors and Y2K and zombies and the economy. And being a little kid in the peachy nineties only to grow up into the oughts and tens is like being birthed out of the womb into a bath of ice water. The self doubt is there, but it’s camouflaged by our crippling doubts about everything.

    And if we don’t still live at home, we’re living in poverty and we’re afraid of that too but we still romanticize it. The reason why you haven’t seen us do anything yet is because we self-publish, self-record, self-promote and only for each other. And we’re either elitist localists or obscurists, so we don’t care if our work is only exposed to a handful of initiates in a very specific subset of a certain city’s subculture, that just makes it seem more impressive when somebody stumbles across it reposted on some blog or finds it in someone’s DIY zine on some grimey studio floor in Portland. And we dress like fucking nutcases because we buy our clothes at thrift stores and our accessories at flea markets. And we don’t watch TV, we watch YouTube and we post videos of ourselves crying and smoking. And we take public transit or ride fixed gears and drink water from washed out pickle jars and eat shrooms rolled in our vegan burritos and take off to our parent’s summer home in the woods to have safe sex and take pictures of ourselves.

    I think the young people that I know are living in an entirely different world than the young people in your article. Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian. But this seems like it was just a guess on your part or a recycling of some other silly articles about the millenials.

  22. I’m also Canadian, and the Hilo Establishment’s depiction of us strikes me as substantially correct, if shallow. Even the spiteful undercurrent is justified to an extent- we’ve spent the principle of their cultural investments, perhaps revealing the inner hollowness of their legacies in fuller relief than they’d prefer. Mostly, it’s an attribution error: we’re scapegoats for tectonic social changes of which we’re the clearest manifestation.

  23. I’ve pretty late to this series, but the rigid decades seem to undermine more natural cultural trends. I’m sure border cases are always fuzzy, but the including 84-87 or so with the Throwbacks doesn’t make much sense. We form a much more natural group with people born in the early 80s through early Nickelodeon, SNICK, and Saved by the Bell, rather than the shows produced for tweens while we’re in college. Most strikingly, though, is that there’s a big difference between someone who was a teenager and someone who was a 7 year-old in 2001. 9/11 and the Strokes were part of a sea change for culture at large. It’s only a couple years, but big things like the iPod, rap turning to pop, the garage-rock revival, and pre-web 2.0 internet culture were revolutionary rather than taken as a given. Additionally, those born until mid ’86, if they graduated college on time, were the last group to apply for jobs before the stock market crash and financial crisis. That’s a pretty good line in the sand.

  24. As an 88er I usually am one of the ones disgusted and want as little to do with the majority of the examples shown here. But then again I had older parents than most of those surrounding me. I had Anti-Anti parents who left me to my own devices and thought heliocopter parenting was a waste of time. Which brings up another interesting question: what happens if you have older parents who raise you in a different manner than the rest of your peers?

    The only thing I’d say I have in common with the rest of these guys is the liking of Disney (even then, I went for the older and more obscure ones: The Black Cauldron, The Aristocats, etc.) & Nickelodeon when I was a kid.

  25. A July 2010 NYT story claims that “millennials” are aged 18-29; i.e., they were born 1981-92. Excerpt:

    “I don’t think I fully understood the severity of the situation I had graduated into,” he said, speaking in effect for an age group — the so-called millennials, 18 to 29 — whose unemployment rate of nearly 14 percent approaches the levels of that group in the Great Depression. And then he veered into the optimism that, polls show, is persistently, perhaps perversely, characteristic of millennials today. “I am absolutely certain that my job hunt will eventually pay off,” he said.

    For young adults, the prospects in the workplace, even for the college-educated, have rarely been so bleak. Apart from the 14 percent who are unemployed and seeking work, as Scott Nicholson is, 23 percent are not even seeking a job, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The total, 37 percent, is the highest in more than three decades and a rate reminiscent of the 1930s.

    The college-educated among these young adults are better off. But nearly 17 percent are either unemployed or not seeking work, a record level (although some are in graduate school). The unemployment rate for college-educated young adults, 5.5 percent, is nearly double what it was on the eve of the Great Recession, in 2007, and the highest level — by almost two percentage points — since the bureau started to keep records in 1994 for those with at least four years of college.

    Yet surveys show that the majority of the nation’s millennials remain confident, as Scott Nicholson is, that they will have satisfactory careers. They have a lot going for them.

  26. 2007 survey of “Gen Y’s most trusted brands”

    Trader Joe’s
    Jet Blue
    In-N-Out Burger
    Ben & Jerry’s
    Whole Foods
    American Apparel
    H & M clothing stores
    Vitamin Water
    Red Stripe Jamaican beer

    “They also responded strongly to brands that they saw as ‘dorky’ but ‘totally themselves’,” says Brickley, who, at 27, is part of the demographic group that was surveyed. “Like Trader Joe’s, for example. They liked that the company has a dorky newsletter and makes their employees wear silly Hawaiian shirts. They also really liked that In-N- Out starts their employees out at $10 an hour — which made the trendsetters happier to eat there, as opposed to some fast-food chains where all the workers look miserable.”

    Respondents also were drawn to Jet Blue airline. “They loved everything about Jet Blue, noting that the airline is much easier to navigate, the flights are always cheap, always one-way and don’t have a lot of weird special prices and restrictions,” says Brickley.

    The bottom line, concluded the survey, is that any company that is inconvenient or confusing, or that used over-designed imagery, is seen as out of touch and too “corporate.”


    President of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR says top 10 trends of 20-somethings are:

    1. Real-time expectations

    Virtually no one in his or her 20s in a developed country has known life without instant communication. Twenty-somethings connect with friends in real time — no waiting for snail mail or even e-mail. They get the latest news (whether world events or their friends’ status) as it happens, with a live feed of texts, tweets and Facebook updates from where it’s happening. Whenever they need information, it’s online in abundance. Reference books? What are those?

    2. More intensely local lives

    A paradox of borderless real-time technology is the way it reinforces local connections. With mobile devices, young adults make plans on the fly. With location-based apps on their phones, they find friends who happen to be nearby and get alerts from companies in the vicinity offering deals. Local is the new global, as I explained in my most recent post here, and nowhere is that more true than among 20-somethings.

    3. Radical transparency

    Twenty-somethings grew up with reality TV and radical celebrity culture — media poking into every corner of people’s lives, from Hollywood A-listers to Nadya Suleman, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, and Richard “Balloon Boy’s Dad” Heene. They’ve lived their whole lives in a culture of information “leaks” at the highest level, a world where even the great confess mistakes and show emotion to millions. They constantly use technologies that let them bare all — sometimes literally — to their friends. They’re aware that nothing online is confidential, but so what? This generation is more transparent about its thoughts, feelings and actions than any generation before it.

    4. Expecting cheap or free everything

    Globalization has made many essentials very cheap. Twenty-somethings can fill their stomachs and clothe themselves at unbelievably low cost. Budget air travel is normal. The Internet brings music, software, TV shows and all sorts of content for free. One of the biggest, most powerful brands on the planet, Google, offers a huge range of powerful services at no cost to the user.

    5. Demanding entertainment

    In some parts of the world, particularly the West, entertainment has long been an essential part of education. Young adults grew up with Sesame Street and edutainment based on fun, interactive graphics in the classroom and museums, an approach that has been endorsed by researchers. Even in places where more traditional education models prevail, fun and games have become a staple activity of young people. In the recent Global Youth Study, 59 percent of respondents said they regularly play video or computer games in their spare time; gaming is the second-most popular activity after socializing.

    6. Worrying about the planet

    Twenty-somethings came of age amid increasingly troubling reports about what’s going wrong with the planet. Inconvenient truths about climate change, disappearing species, habitat destruction and water shortages have been daily fare for them. In the survey, 64 percent of respondents saw climate change affecting them seriously, and 82 percent saw it affecting future generations seriously; 64 percent said only immediate radical changes can prevent the most serious impacts of climate change.

    7. Seeing luxuries as standard

    The basic tools of 20-something life are actually luxuries by historical standards. Whether they pay for them themselves or have help from their parents, most young adults in developed countries have:

    • A smartphone costing well above $100, plus monthly fees
    • A computer costing at least $300, with monthly broadband fees on top
    • A wide-screen TV costing at least $300, plus cable or satellite fees
    • Higher education as far as they can go

    8. Pro-business, anti-multinational stance

    Today’s 20-somethings don’t share the countercultural ideologies that fired up young baby boomers. They were raised in an environment in which free markets were revered and delivered plenty of consumer goodies. People in their 20s aren’t anti-business; some of them even founded megabrands (Google again). But they aren’t so fond of multinational corporations. In the survey, two-thirds of respondents said global corporations have too much power. But instead of trying to take down corporate giants by force like earlier generations did, now 20-somethings aspire to out-business them.

    9. Wanting to regulate the heck out of media bias

    Media in 2010 is vastly bigger than it was in 2000. Increasingly diverse news sources are available to anyone, anywhere, anytime. No wonder 70 percent of survey respondents get their news over the Internet. All this choice, plus growing educational levels and media savvy, makes 20-somethings acutely aware of media bias; 70 percent of respondents said all news media should be regulated so that they’re clearly independent of state and corporate bias.

    10. Naturally Me but aspiring to We

    Young adults are used to self-expression, self-esteem, personal computers, personal profiles, personalized settings and personal branding. Whether the culture is highly individualistic (e.g., the United States) or more collectivist (e.g., China), businesses have thrived by enabling people to express themselves, to be more Me. Culturally and commercially, 20-somethings have been encouraged to be more selfish than their predecessors. Yet they’re all too aware that everyone pursuing selfish interests creates planetary problems. Members of this generation are caught between the impulse to do their own thing and the desire to do the right thing together. Or as the pithy observation has it, “Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.”

  28. I feel like the comments have revealed a strong break between early throwbacks and later ones. I, myself, am technically a Revivalist, and I see all the characteristics you described in myself. However, I see strong tendencies in the same direction for at least a few years younger than me… stretching to people who were born in 84, 86, or 88. It seems that the prevailing sanitized culture is also highly polarizing.

    “Early” and “late” may not be the best way to look at it. It may have more to do with their parents’ generation. Perhaps the more conventional Throwbacks (Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers) had significantly older parents, i.e. the late boomers. However, this may be offset by a breed of reactionary throwbacks who seem to have been born nostalgic, idolizing 80’s and 90’s cartoons and New Wave rock, and outright rejecting the prevailing Disney culture. Perhaps these are the children of the Gen-Xer’s, brought up with a healthy dose of cultural skepticism and an appetite for ironic nostalgia?

  29. Jesse M: most of our parents are Gen Xers and Reconstructionists, and that may be the problem. With limited insight into their cultural power sources, and vivid memories of parental neglect, institutional brutality, and the costs of both individualism and ideology, they tend to make the best helicopter parents. What began as skepticism ended as a thoroughgoing, and paranoid contempt for principle.

  30. Over at Semionaut, Louise Jolly explains that even though Lady Gaga’s work might superficially resemble Madonna’s, it’s lacking Madonna’s irony.


    “First and foremost, she’s breaking with postmodern irony. Like Madonna and Kylie, she’s all about theatre and performance. But unlike them, she’s not interested in ironic role play and cultural citation. While Madonna ‘did everything with a wink’ (to quote her own phrase), Lady Gaga returns art to life-and-death seriousness.

    When things go wrong on the Lady Gaga stage, they’re not hidden away or ushered back stage. If her feet bleed from dancing in high heels, or she falls off a grand piano, we hear about it. These failures and sufferings are integrated into her act, and into her myth, rather than glossed over as accidental misfortunes.

    For Madonna and Kylie, performance is about professionalism: slick, perfect, ironic and managed. In contrast, for Lady Gaga, it’s about blood and guts, stumbles and falls, life and death. It’s become a well-known Gaga commonplace that, for the singer, there’s no such thing as ‘off stage’. She’s ‘always on’, living her art, grafting it into the visceral immediacy of life rather than playing with ironic citation and distance.

    Another example is the performer’s Rilke tattoo, which reads: ‘in the deepest hour of the night, confess that you would die if you were forbidden to write’. Unsurprisingly, it’s been ridiculed as one of the most pretentious celebrity tattoos ever.

    But the tattoo is significant in the light of her post-postmodernist performance mission, fitting in with her quest to return art to the life-and-death matter it was for 19th-century absolutists of the aesthetic (such as Baudelaire, Rimbaud or Wilde).”

  31. From a marketing report:

    For marketers, the technology divide across generations is profound. Older consumers want information and entertainment from media. Millennials see media as platforms for connection. Older generations have grown up directly interacting with marketing communications, processing ads and making decisions individually. Millennials encounter marketing as part of their on-going, never-ending, constantly-evolving conversations about
    brands, issues, celebrities, causes, sports, politics, music and more. Young consumers no longer encounter marketing in the ways embedded in traditional models of marketing, media, persuasion and attitude change.

    The old objective of marketers was to be heard above the noise. In effect, it was about out-shouting the competition; hence, the relevant metric was share of voice. Today, and tomorrow, the objective must be one of getting talked about, for which the relevant metric will be share of conversation.

  32. Hey Josh Glenn. As someone who is so passionately, or at least feverishly interested in the psyches and symptoms of my 20sumthing generation I think you might have something to say about my journal FAKEHEAD. Our website is not so evolved yet, it’s kind of just a calling card for the printed matter, which I would love to send you. but, for now

    Also I think you should think a little more deeply about the implications of that PR guy’s comment about “radical transparency”.

    let’s talk.

  33. Yes, I really want to see FAKEHEAD, Leah. My friend Katie has told me how much I’d enjoy it, and she is never wrong. If you’re interested in ancient history, I’ll swap you copies for back issues of my magazine HERMENAUT. I’ll email you my particulars (as the bishop — or maybe Anthony Weiner — said to the actress).

    I haven’t thought at all about what the PR guy said, or much at all about the so-called Throwback Generation because any claims one makes about a generation whose oldest members are under 30 are in retrospect going to look stupid. I really disliked reading what the MSM had to say about my cohort when I was in my 20s, and they were all wrong. I do feel pretty confident about the other entries in my generational re-periodizing series, but the Throwbacks and TBA posts are really just placeholders. Every now and then I stick something I’ve read in the comments, just to remind myself…

    PS: Did you notice that Leah Hennessey’s birthdate was listed on this page — before you posted? I didn’t add it later, promise.

  34. I’ve read through this, and the comments and would like to add my little opinion on some things mentioned.

    1. Dweebiness.

    I think it’s not so much due to social media as really rebellion. Our parents were hippies, if they found as smoking pot, no big deal. They rebelled against their parents, New Gods, Partisians (less so, because I don’t think Partisians had the same impact on main stream cultrle as the New Gods.) The Boomers and the OXGers, had children later in life, and they had almost taken on the asthetics of the New Gods, clean cut so on… but lost their more rebellious streak, but still remain overly cultural relatvist. Espousing non-violence no matter what, there are no right answers, competetion as always negative, though he is a bit older, a Wayne Dyer, or even a Dr. Phil emody this perfectly.

    The next biggest influence was the concept of the Greatest Generation (whether is was real or not is a seperate arugment), so we looked at Ward Cleever, and to us, this was a type of rebellion for our parents, but not one too uncomforatbly out there (after all we’ve had the concept of moderation thumped in to our heads). So we went and tried to copy, the artificial sterotype of the good clean cut man, with concessions made for feminism (equal partnerships, rejection of the need to be masculine etc…). Instead of chanelling the energy into competing we used createvity, while we prefer beinf entrepenous over trying to be assicoates at a firm. Violia you have dweebiness.

    I tired my hand briefly at the pinnacle of our dweebiness (being young on Capitol Hill). It didn’t work to well for me, I’ve always had too much of an edge (real politik made more sense to me, and I’m a bit of a libeterian domestically, that’s is our generations Beat Nicks, the small group of rebels, the loud minority if you will, our heros tend to be Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, Ernest Hemingway, T.E. Lawrence, because it’s the opposite of it all, more reckless than the manufacture image of the “greatest generation”, and more sincere, by way or recoginzing the more irraciable side of human nature, that our mainstream collegues, we take a hodge podge of retro edge, Nirvana, The Stones, and try to reclaim it, but realize because of our collective upbrigings, we aren’t scruffy enough to ever really get it, trapped by what you refer to as “perfectionism” in the begining, and our roots in Walt Disney produced pollyanna.

    We had Obama, as our collective moment, which was not a movement of rebellion (hippies, beat neaks, Mointparness writers in Paris, with absenth and open relationships). We didn’t have defiance (stand against fascism, communism, the Kaiser) none of that. We earnsesty believe he would change the world (well I didn’t, but then again, I’m very atypical for my generation) What we have is quiet, let’s make things better, gee golly wiz worth ethic. In fact, there is a streak against highbrow, as elitist, and in not being inclusive, or immediatly applicable for life, rejected, I’d suspect most us like hilobrow, more for it’s deconstruction of ideas we don’t like, than for actual points it makes.

    2. Sincerity

    We are the least sincere I think. In fact our niceness and sincerity, is really I think, built on rage, mixed with a seething inferioty complex. I mention before we had moderation thumped into our skulls, and most of use have been condition to seek safety not adventure. So when we here the stoires of our parents and grand parents, and even older siblings, and realize we are so sheltered, and think we’d be unable to handy both Normandy, Woodstock and booze smokes, sex and grunge, but still want it, we descend into a cognitice dissonance of being nice.

    Why do you think we have less sex, but watch more (and more pervese porn), because we’re afraid, at at the same times yearning for transgression, Our comedies are gross, ribald, but unlike what was done by the coemdians of the anti-anti-utipians (ie. Peter Cook, Woody Allen) it has a lesson at the end, not a real life one, like a dead relationship in Annie Hall, but rather and almost Disney-esque once (althought not made by us, the comedies of Judd Apatow and co. work, because they end with lessons on how good true love, family, domesticity in general really are, like a comedic Revolustanry Road in reverse).

    Our Vices

    Yes most of use do drugs, both prescribed and not, and have uncommited sex. But it’s no longer edgy, sex is just sex. It’s not a statement, it’s not wild, it’s not look at us rebelling. I’m a bit old fashioned, but most guys, now, if someone had sex with thier girl, it would just be “okay, let’s talk, work through this”, not I’ll find the guy fight him, and leave the girl forever. I think it’s tied to our inferioirt complex a sort of “who would want me” syndrome, and the idea the masculine reactions are bad, so men don’t get charged up about it, and women want to be free, and were raised to be open minded, so monogamy is no longer a prerequeiste.

    Drugs to, are no longer transgressive in nature. Our generation more openly smokes pot. Here’s an anecdote that illustrates it, I was walking near the Washington monument, smoking some small cigars. I sweater vested, pays his taxes, employed at a white collar office, guy about my own age comes up to me, asks for a light, with a perfectly rolled join in his hand, and asks for a light, very blaise, like you’d ask the person for the time. Every in law school does coke. It’s no longer, a think of shock values.

    We were prescribed uneeded things as kids, and I think this goes back to the emphasis we had on interdepedence, as better than indepednce, the idea of needed a substance to get though, or wanted it, isn’t the same, as if we were taugh that self sufficeceny was a postive rather than a negative. In fact our use of sex, and friends with benefits, and non-mongamy is very communial if you think about it. I don’t think most of use would call our vices, vices (unless it’s tabocao or hard liquor, now those carry more a transgressive wallop).

    3. Late vs. Early Throwbacks

    That is very true, I notice that two of my fellow 88er’s fell the same way I (and much of my friends who were 82-88) feel about our later contemparies. We remember 9/11 and it made us more nihilistic, more like the anti-antis, the orginal decadeants or modernists. Also those of use with older parents, mind were Early Boomers, and my Grand Parents were early Partisans (on the border of being Hard Boileds), not new Gods. They went into the WWII more cyncial and never really took to post war life, like New Gods did.

    I was never raised on Disney, I was reared on Hard Boiled, and Anti-Anti literature and media, mixed in with hefty doses of modernist and post modern. My parents aren’t helicoptors. So I look at our generation, espcially the laters with slight embarssment. I think much of the libetrian rebels now of says do (not Glen Beck faux-liberterians, but actual atheist, nihilistic libeterians).


    Most of my friends are upper, or upper middle class. Now I think all in all, you and most of the comments descrbe that segment well. I have working class friends, and the blue collar segment, is much different. For better and worse. They are I think actually sincere, they curse, they are sinicles, they prize monogamy more, and I think lie to themselvs less. Maybe it’s becuase they’ve had to tough it out, but I think the article, and most of the commentators, overlook this part of the generation.


    Apologies for the spelling mistakes.

  35. Dang you nail the kids I teach (I’m a skeptical, arty-fart Xer). I read Strauss and Howe as hopeful science fiction. I liked it a lot. It was like a good recreational drug.

    My worry will be what will *really* happen when the Millennials meet up with Mr. Danger: a wrecked economy, a ruined climate, and a world without enough oil. I fear they’ll just vote for the GOP Moronathon that promises “Happy Days Will Be Here Again If We Just Kill Everyone We Hate.”

    Or maybe these kids are immune to GOP B.S. and Kumbaya Liberalism, too. Maybe they’ll pick up the sort of critical-thinking skills they didn’t get with mommy and daddy shepherding them to the next mandatory self-improvement event.

    When the poop contacts the fan, maybe they’ll text each other and, like, totally figure it out? (rising intonation on the end that sentence).

    But I’ll be dead by then. Yay, me.

  36. In an article that was critical of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, Ginia Bellafante wrote in The New York Times: “The group’s lack of cohesion and its apparent wish to pantomime progressivism rather than practice it knowledgeably is unsettling in the face of the challenges so many of its generation face – finding work, repaying student loans, figuring out ways to finish college when money has run out.”

  37. I’m a Throwback (87) and so’s my wife (88). I read through the whole series start to finish, and was in love with the whole thing… until I got to “my” generation. I figure everyone probably reacts the same way, but still, I feel like something important splits this generation in a way that it doesn’t split, say, the Revivalists or Recons (or the New Gods, etc.).

    I think the Revivalist generation continued into 1990 or so. I say that because we who were born in the late ’80s (mid-Eighties by your terminology) were born into the same boomer-fueled nostalgia as the late Revivalists. My parents are OGX’s, but the world in which I grew up was firmly controlled by Boomers, beating our brains in with nostalgia for the Sixties and Seventies. Think about it.

    The split happens on 9/11/01. Kids who weren’t old enough to understand what was happening (that is, able to process the terrorist attacks; I wouldn’t say anyone “understands” 9/11 and its impact) are Throwbacks. Kids who were old enough to understand what was going on, who watched it happen live, those kids are the last Revivalists, because we’re the last ones who remember what it was like Before. I think that’s what’s also behind Occupy Wall Street. It’s folks in their early and mid 20’s, who just want to go back to Before. I don’t think it’s coming back, for better or for worse.

  38. This is fascinating stuff, Kevin. Thanks very much for the thoughtful comment.

    A couple of your arguments I have to discount. (1) Boomer-fueled nostalgia for the Sixties has been experienced as an affliction by every sensitive type born since 1954; we can’t all be one big Boomer-oppressed generation. (2) I don’t think Occupy is about wanting to return to the days immediately before 9/11. I think maybe, though, Occupy is about wanting to return to midcentury America — when college was cheap and a middle-class lifestyle at least seemed available to everyone. Which is a Throwback thing.

    Still, I’m attracted to your notion that 9/11 was a cataclysmic event that affects my generational schema.

    As I point out near the end of my post on the Post-Romantics (1825-33), in the early 19th century, my decade/generation scheme shifts from a “5-4″ to a “4-3″ pattern. I wasn’t expecting this, when I first arrived at my “4-3” schema! But as I worked my way back to the Post-Romantics in the course of my research, it became clear to me that this cohort didn’t fit the “4-3” pattern; and then I saw that the generations older than the Post-Romantics were on a “5-4” pattern. Seems to me this shift may have been caused by the July Revolution in 1830, among other things.

    And yet the Civil War didn’t cause another shift, nor did the two world wars. Mysterious. A cataclysmic event *can* affect my scheme, but more often than not doesn’t.

    I’m open to the possibility that another shift may have happened at some point after my Reconstructionist Generation (1964-73), about whose beginning and end I feel confident. I don’t think, for example, that many people born in 1974 would be a better fit in the Reconstructionist Generation than in the Revivalist Generation. However, there’s a pretty sizeable group of people born in 1984 (Throwbacks, supposedly) who’d fit pretty well into the Revivalist Generation. And I just don’t think enough is known yet about the Throwbacks and the subsequent (unnamed) generation — at least, I don’t know enough yet — to be too confident about their borders.

    Still, you’re suggesting that someone born in 1987 is a Revivalist? I’m not saying it’s impossible that a generation could stretch for 13 years, but it’s a bit unlikely. If anything, I think generations now might be getting shorter in duration. Still, I want to entertain your theory that 9/11 is a July Revolution-type cataclysm that throws my schema off. I could maybe see the Revivalist Generation extending from 1974 to 1984, or at most 1985. But that wouldn’t include you — not even as a cusper.

    Another possibility is that the Revivalist Generation ends really early because of 9/11. Maybe it goes from 1974 to 1982 or even 1981. And then maybe we switch to a new pattern: “2-1” (1982-1991, 1992-2001, 2002-2011) or perhaps “1-0” (1981-1990, 1991-2000, 2001-2010). The latter pattern would be ironic, since one of my points all along has been that eras like the Sixties (1964-73) aren’t the same as decades like the 1960s. But one must retain an open mind. Also ironic: if your generation does begin in 1982, then Strauss & Howe — who claimed the so-called Millennial Generation began in ’82 — will have been right for once!

    The rather extreme 1981-90 option would mean that you weren’t in the same generation as people born from 1991-93. Which might make you feel a little better — since you suggest that you feel little kinship with anyone born after 1990. And I’m sure you’d be happy to rid your generation of Jamie Lynn Spears, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Lautner, Selena Gomez, Cole and Dylan Sprouse, and Miranda Cosgrove. Who’d become the older members of a 1991-2000 generation, instead of the youngest members of a 1984-93 generation.

    Under the 1981-90 scheme, your generation (let’s call them the Throwbacks, still, for the moment) would keep my favorite Throwbacks: Michael Cera, Clark Duke, Dizzee Rascal, Lady Gaga, Aaron Swartz, Lady Sovereign. You’d pick up Beyoncé Knowles, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Natalie Portman, Joanna Newsom, Amy Winehouse, and Jonah Hill. Some of those figures — Portman, Newsom, Winehouse — are not unimportant to my understanding of the Revivalist Generation, which gives me pause. But Knowles, Spearss and Timberlake fit the Throwbacks really well, and I’d love to get Jonah Hill and Michael Cera into the same generation. I’m on the fence about it, for the moment.

    Even this radical shift in my scheme wouldn’t make you a Revivalist! But it would shake up the Throwback Generation. Who is shaking things up via the Occupy movement, as you point out.

  39. Joshua:

    I like your idea of a shortened generation better than I liked my own idea of myself-as-Revivalist. But I don’t know how strongly it can be argued because, as you point out, World and Civil Wars didn’t split generations, and so neither would it be reasonable to expect 9/11 to.

    I do think there’s something to the 1-0 pattern starting with 1981, but I also *feel* like I’m part of a different generation than friends of mine born in the very early 80’s. If anything, I think maybe I inaccurately expressed my own feelings, and maybe they’re more in line with those that feel like there’s a 1990-91ish “Throwback 1” and “Throwback 2” split of some sort. Which 9/11 would explain, I think.

    So under this line of reasoning, what I’d call “Pre-Throwbacks” (or maybe some other name involving renewed earnest or expressing a dissatisfaction with detachment and irony, which seems to be a big part of Lady Gaga and Aaron Swartz and Michael Cera’s oeuvre thus far, anyway) were born from 1984-1991, and then it becomes a 1-0 pattern. That makes sense to me, if for no other reason than it honestly just *feels* more correct. No one my age or older (and very few that are only two or three years younger) grew up in the thrall of the Disney grip you describe. Some of us watched the early Nineties Mickey Mouse Club and Kids Incorporated, for sure, but we, in our late teens and early Twenties didn’t fall for the later Lizzie McGuire and Suite Life and iCarly stuff that our younger siblings (from the early 1990’s) did. It was somehow different, the level of Disney penetration into our (“Pre-Throwbacks”) cultural consciousness wasn’t as complete. Probably because kids who were under ten or eleven before 9/11 were (apparently) the last American children whose parents said “go ride your bike around or something” rather than “Why don’t you play in the back yard where we can keep an eye on you?”

    I don’t know. But I do think there’s something different happening here. Maybe it’s too easy to blame it on 9/11, but I think the mass-media nature of the event, and the fact that everyone older than elementary school age watched it live, and everyone younger probably didn’t, has something to do with it.

  40. Hmm…On the one hand, I want to agree with Kevin about the post-9/11 shift. Media geared toward or created by people born after ’90 fails to reach me, and the concept of “tween” is not something that came about until I was in late high school.
    On the other hand, I’m still working at the college I went to, and I manage the kids that are in college now. The freshmen were born in ’92. (Am I really that old?) I have to say that in actually interacting with them, I find a lot in common with them. They don’t feel like a different generation to me, not when I work with them day-to-day.

  41. What do you find in common with the freshmen, Lady J? Thank you (and Kevin) for the feedback — as noted at the top of this post and in at least one of my comments, I’m fully aware that I’m not qualified to write about this particular generation.

  42. November 12 New York Times trend piece by William Deresiewicz on “Generation Sell” (supposedly born from late 1970s through mid 1990s) claims:

    It’s striking. Forty years ago, even 20 years ago, a young person’s first thought, or even second or third thought, was certainly not to start a business. That was selling out — an idea that has rather tellingly disappeared from our vocabulary. Where did it come from, this change? Less Reaganism, as a former student suggested to me, than Clintonism — the heroic age of dot-com entrepreneurship that emerged during the Millennials’ childhood and youth. Add a distrust of large organizations, including government, as well as the sense, a legacy of the last decade, that it’s every man for himself.

    Because this isn’t only them. The small business is the idealized social form of our time. Our culture hero is not the artist or reformer, not the saint or scientist, but the entrepreneur. (Think of Steve Jobs, our new deity.) Autonomy, adventure, imagination: entrepreneurship comprehends all this and more for us. The characteristic art form of our age may be the business plan.

    AND that, I think, is the real meaning of the Millennial affect — which is, like the entrepreneurial ideal, essentially everyone’s now. Today’s polite, pleasant personality is, above all, a commercial personality. It is the salesman’s smile and hearty handshake, because the customer is always right and you should always keep the customer happy. If you want to get ahead, said Benjamin Franklin, the original business guru, make yourself pleasing to others.


    Over the past few months, 20-somethings from around the country have flocked to the Occupy Wall Street movement in droves and have found an outlet for their growing frustrations.

    In particular, many current students and recent graduates are enraged over the increasing cost of tuition and rising amounts of student loan debt — not to mention a dearth of decent job prospects for many of their well-educated and well-credentialed classmates.

    According to the “State of Young America,” a national poll released in mid-November, young Americans are growing increasingly unsure that they can attain the American Dream. Further, nearly half believe that their generation will be worse off than their parent’s generation.

    While a majority of the 872 18-to-34-year-olds surveyed still perceived a college degree as a vital pathway to success, many simultaneously reported feeling strapped by the rising cost of college.

    In November, the Institute for College Access and Success, an Oakland, Calif.-based non-profit, released its annual report looking at average debt loads. Amid a difficult job market, it found that 2010 graduates owed an average of $25,250 — with many in their generation struggling to pay off far more.

    Though many 20-somethings embarked on their dream of a college education when a decent-paying job was virtually a guaranteed part of the package, the rules have changed, and a new generation is learning to readjust its expectations.

  44. Update: Recent analysis of my generational periodization scheme on my part has led me to declare that the Throwbacks Generation runs from 1983–92, not (as previously claimed) 1984–93. This is because the Revivalist Generation, it turns out, ends in 1982 instead of 1983. Is 9/11 to blame? Not sure yet.

  45. New York Times article from Jan. 9 2013: “Generation LGBTQIA”


    Stephen Ira, a junior at Sarah Lawrence College, uploaded a video last March on We Happy Trans, a site that shares “positive perspectives” on being transgender.

    In the breakneck six-and-a-half-minute monologue — hair tousled, sitting in a wood-paneled dorm room — Stephen exuberantly declared himself “a queer, a nerd fighter, a writer, an artist and a guy who needs a haircut,” and held forth on everything from his style icons (Truman Capote and “any male-identified person who wears thigh-highs or garters”) to his toy zebra.

    Because Stephen, who was born Kathlyn, is the 21-year-old child of Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, the video went viral, garnering nearly half a million views. But that was not the only reason for its appeal. With its adrenalized, freewheeling eloquence, the video seemed like a battle cry for a new generation of post-gay gender activists, for whom Stephen represents a rare public face.

    Armed with the millennial generation’s defining traits — Web savvy, boundless confidence and social networks that extend online and off — Stephen and his peers are forging a political identity all their own, often at odds with mainstream gay culture.

    If the gay-rights movement today seems to revolve around same-sex marriage, this generation is seeking something more radical: an upending of gender roles beyond the binary of male/female. The core question isn’t whom they love, but who they are — that is, identity as distinct from sexual orientation.


    EXCERPT: By now, the oldest millennials are 35. They aren’t children anymore — in fact, a majority of them are leaders with decision-making power and direct reports. While executives have been fretting over the millennials, though, a new generation is growing up behind the scenes — Generation Z (born starting in the mid-90s to the early ’00s depending on whom you ask). Within the next three years, Gen Zers will be the college grads in my audiences, and they are poised to be somewhat different from the millennials.

    I’ve now had the opportunity to meet lots of Gen Zers, and here’s what I’ve noticed. To start, they tend to be independent. While a 2015 Census Bureau report found that nearly a third of millennials are still living with their parents, Gen Zers are growing up in a healthier economy and appear eager to be cut loose. They don’t wait for their parents to teach them things or tell them how to make decisions. As demonstrated by the teenagers attending the recent Generation Z Conference at American University in Washington, Gen Z is already out in the world, curious and driven, investigating how to obtain relevant professional experience before college. Despite their obvious technology proficiency, Gen Zers seem to prefer in-person to online interaction and are being schooled in emotional intelligence from a young age. Thanks to social media, they are accustomed to engaging with friends all over the world, so they are well prepared for a global business environment.


    For babies born in 1980 — today’s 36-year-olds — the index of the American dream has fallen to 50 percent: Only half of them make as much money as their parents did. In the industrial Midwestern states that effectively elected Donald Trump, the share was once higher than the national average. Now, it is a few percentage points lower. There, going backward is the norm.

    Psychology research has shown that people’s happiness is heavily influenced by their relative station in life. And it’s hard to imagine a more salient comparison than to a person’s own parents, particularly at this time of year, when families gather for rituals that have been repeated for decades. “You’re going home for the holidays and you compare your standard of living to your parents,” Grusky, a sociologist, says. “It’s one of the few ties you have over the course of your entire life. Friends come and go. Parents are a constant.”

  48. Preliminarily I recommend you read Hipp’s 2016 aritcle, FYou, I’m Not a Millennial. It talks about why early 80s babies (1980-1983) are not Millennials. I’ve read more recent articles stating that babies born between ’80 and ’85 or so are a demographic no man’s land of sorts because they don’t fit neatly into eithr GenX or Millennial. 9/11 makes this no man’s land more pronounced. We were in our high school and college years when the Trade Center came down. Our entire childhoods and much of our teens were in the safe, sunny 90s. This was shown to be an illusion. (Is it possible that it was created by those generations that, by the accident of birth had been born at the height of the Cold War?) We did not inherit the world created in the 90s, but a proverbial ‘brave new world’. Unlike the generations born into the CW, we were not born into the post-9/11 world and were ill prepared for it as a result. Our situation was akin to grasping in the dark for a way to handle the issues we were given. In many ways we were simply making it up as we went along or outright flying by the seat of our pants as the old addages/cliches go. Somene who is 7 or 8 at the time had more time to internalize the event and readjust thier expectations accordingly and do all this under the guidance of parents and ‘experts’ who advised parents on discussing the incident with them. We were past the age where this would apply to us.

  49. In response to the comments from Sickmon up above. It’s worth remember that myself and my scared, sad peers were just coming of age when 9/11 happened. Shortly thereafter I found myself protesting a war while getting maced and tear gassed while my friends were dying in that war.

    That was how we spent our late teens and early 20’s.

    So yeah, we’re sad. And yeah, there’s fear, but we’re not cowards, and we aren’t sitting around moping. We’re starting businesses, we’re politically active and engaged, a lot of us are still serving in military, and we’re moving forward.

    It’s also worth noting that the economy crashed to its worst state since the great depression while we were in college. I’ve got friends with STEM degrees that are only now getting jobs in their field. You had new grads with the Holy Grail STEM degrees working at Starbucks and you wonder why we lack confidence?



    Technically speaking, I’m definitely a millennial. I was born in 1983, which means I’m part of the generation, whether one uses the Census Bureau’s definition (born 1982–2000) or Pew’s (about 1981–1997). But the more I hear about millennials, the less I recognize myself. And I’m not alone on this front: In 2015, for example, Juliet Lapidos — born the same year I was — may have put it best in a column for the New York Times headlined “Wait, What, I’m a Millennial?” “I don’t identify with the kids that Time magazine described as technology-addled narcissists, the Justin Bieber fans who ‘boomerang’ back home instead of growing up,” she writes. And I’ve had plenty of conversations with other people my age who feel the same way. Many, many people who are in their late 20s and early 30s simply don’t feel like they are a part of the endlessly dissected millennial generation.

    As it turns out, there are good reasons for this. Old Millennials, as I’ll call them, who were born around 1988 or earlier (meaning they’re 29 and older today), really have lived substantively different lives than Young Millennials, who were born around 1989 or later, as a result of two epochal events that occurred around the time when members of the older group were mostly young adults and when members of the younger were mostly early adolescents: the financial crisis and smartphones’ profound takeover of society. And according to Jean Twenge, a social psychologist at San Diego State University and the author of Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—and More Miserable Than Ever Before, there’s some early, emerging evidence that, in certain ways, these two groups act like different, self-contained generations.

  51. I don’t know how convincing this will be, but I’d be willing to entertain the notion the Revivalist generation is in fact a year longer than normal rather than a year shorter than the norm, stretching from ’74 to ’84 and that the Darwikians go from ’85 to ’94. As a 1988 baby I admit I’m largely going off my experience observing my peers, but for me the generational split seems to be smack in the middle of the nineties. This would still allow for Zuckerberg (b. 1984) to be an honorary Darwikian. And it would make someone like Rooney Mara (b. 1985), who appears to be quite romantically compatible with someone born at the beginning of the Rev generation, an honorary Revivalist.

  52. Nicki Minaj is actually late 1982 born, not 1984. That said, she’s totally an honorary Social Darwikian, lol.

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