iGens 7

iGens 7 February 20, 2009


What about the idea that you must love yourself before you can love others? Jean Twenge, in her new book, Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled–and More Miserable Than Ever Before, takes on this question.

Studies show that this is easy to get backwards. Barbara Walters to Hugh Downs: “Oh, Hugh! First of all, you have to like yourself before you can like others.” Well, maybe; well, it depends; well, this can lead to a generation that is far too concerned with exploring itself as a path to learning to love others … with the latter never accomplished.

Self-focus is an issue: “We are told that we need to know ourselves and love ourselves first, but being alone sucks” (91). The truth “is that human beings do need other people to be happy” (91).

Do you think loving yourself is discovered best by focusing on yourself for a period of time (as is the case with many iGens) or by learning to love others? Is loving yourself something we learn from loving others or do we learn to love others by loving ourselves?

Back to self-esteem: “We gain self-esteem from our relationships with others, not from focusing on ourselves” (92). People need people. Fact. All the studies show this: “Study after study shows that people who have good relationships with friends and family are the happiest” (92). Narcissists don’t get along with others.

A researcher, Keith Campbell: “If I were to name the top 10 things that are important for a good relationship, loving yourself wouldn’t make the list” (93). iGens tend to fight with others because of their sense of self-importance.

And studies now on iGen marrieds reveals something: the turn away from self that occurs with marriage and having children is disrupting iGens more than previous generations. Thus, they are less happy than previous generations in this stage of life.

Focusing on the self leads to these features, all demonstrable about iGens as a medium of self-expression more than previous generations:

1. Appearance obsession
2. Tattoos, nose piercings, and God-knows-where piercings
3. Extending adolescence beyond all previous limits (most say adulthood begins at 30)
4. Materialism 

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  • Diane

    This is quite interesting and different from what I as a Boomer grew up with, at least from the teens years on, in the popular culture. We were told to love ourselves so we could love others. What’s interesting to me is that this concept had a good deal of truth for our generation (or perhaps the generation of parents we watched suffer.) I think of all the women –and I read a Beatles’ bio over the Christmas holidays which brought this to mind–who were taught to totally deny themselves for their “man.” The Beatles book told of George Harrison’s wife or girlfriend who would stay up all hours of the night so she could cook and serve him dinner whenever he got in. Or of Cynthia Lennon, sitting around day after day literally doing nothing, waiting for John to come home. The modern mind reels as the subservience. These women needed to learn to love themselves. So, what all of says to me is that each generation has to find its new wineskins, to correct its own disease. If a few generations back the illess to be cured was being self-destructively concerned with what other people thought or wanted, the illness now is to be under-concerned with others. I would like to say again, however, that I identify the “self-love” trait very strongly with Boomers, especially in regard to overly narcissistic bonding with their children. The sins of the mothers and fathers, in other words.

  • Hannah

    With all due respect, I think this analysis is off-base. Things such as “appearance obsession” hardly originated with or are limited to iGen. When I was studying linguistics and anthropology for service with Wycliffe Bible Translators, I remember being amazed at how much weight various societies place on their appearance. And, yes, these same people also pierce, tattoo, and do all sorts of other body-mutilating things. This is nothing new, and nothing unique.
    Materialism is also hardly original with the iGen. As a resident of South Korea and an avid lover of Chinese culture, I can say that materialism is alive and well in Asia and has a long and illustrous history.
    I’m not denying the the iGen is not different in any way. I just think that we (yes, I am a member) are picked on way too much. As a very wise man once said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
    And if you think the extention of adolescence in America is excessive, please come to South Korea for some comparison. IMHO, it’s far, far worse here. The majority of people I know live with their parents until the age of 30 or beyond. Even after marriage, many men and women continue to go out drinking until early hours with coworker, not their spouses, and continue to depend upon their parents to cook and clean. I know women in their 40’s who still receive most of their food from their mother. Am I criticizing? Not all all. Just pointing out that American culture has had a rather unique emphasis on early and complete independance from one’s parents. The fact that this may be coming to an end may just mean that–for good or ill–America is coming in line with the rest of the world.

  • joanne

    loving self. i think there is a balance between healthy self-regard, self-love or whatever and healthy love of others. i have also noticed that many persons, both men and women will give themselves away entirely for another person be it spouse or lover. They do not have a healthy self-regard. It is important to include your self in any relationship. To notice, hear and meet the needs of others is healthy. To notice and ask for your own needs to be met is also healthy.
    Youth also involves immaturity and one’s love of self can also be immature or out of balance. i don’t think it’s fair to judge an entire generation before they are fully grown. Much of what i have been reading in these posts is developmental.

  • Scott M

    I think some of the Orthodox speakers and writers I’ve encountered (they happen to be the only ones I’ve heard pointing this out) have a point. The command does not say to love your neighbor as you love yourself. There is no such limit placed on it, for our love of ourselves is broken and distorted and cannot be the model for how we love others if we are to love them as Jesus showed us and commanded us to love them. Rather, it says to love your neighbor as yourself. That is, your neighbor, like you, is an eikon of God and you must treat them (and yourself) in a manner that honors that image. That is the root of the command to love your neighbor and why it is connected and interwoven with the command to love God with all that you are. You cannot do either unless you do both.
    When I look at it in that light, I see how much it distorts the command to read it as a command to love your neighbor as you love yourself. If you attempt to follow that path, you will love neither your neighbor nor yourself appropriately and will thus fail to love God. Rather, as you practice loving God and treating all others as eikons of the God whom you wish to love, your ability to love yourself and love others and love God will be healed. It’s the only way our ability to love can ever be healed.
    I don’t really have much of an opinion on the discussion of ‘iGens’, though I have a number of children firmly in that camp. As an early GenX child of early boomers (and having lived some of the realities that go with that experience), I can see similarities and differences between myself and both generational ‘sides’. Are iGens more self-focused by culture than GenX or Boomers? Probably not, though it works out somewhat differently for them. Beyond that, I’m not sure I have much of an opinnion.

  • Scot McKnight

    But, Scott, doesn’t the Golden Rule’s statement to do to others what you would have done to you show that (assumed, proper, but demonstrable) self-love was what Jesus used as a pragmatic measure?

  • so I keep waiting for the summaries of this book to develop beyond a “kids these days” eye-rolling attitude. does that ever happen, or is it just an extended list of all the things she doesn’t like in other people?

  • willy

    I am fifty plus, haven’t married yet, no children, retired from a rewarding career. But, I am lonely, no close family, no close friend, and no mate. I know that I love myself, because I have always tried to live a respectful life. No drugs, no drinking, no unhealthy sex life, and respectful of others. But, most men don’t want a respectfull woman. They prefer a woman with children and who sleeps around. I deserve a chance at true love too.

  • Scott M

    No, I don’t see that it is. That’s because the ultimate pragmatic measure Jesus gives us is to love each other as he has loved us. That’s the standard, not the ‘Golden Rule’. However, the ‘Golden Rule’ is a good way to begin walking down that path. If we do for others the things we would want done to us, as opposed to simply refraining from doing the things we wouldn’t want done to us, or even ‘othering’ them entirely, we are beginning to walk the path of love. But it’s just one of the starting points, not the standard. I certainly don’t see that as the lens through which to understand Jesus’ modification of the Shema. We understand his commands to love by the way in which he has loved us and his command to love in that way. That’s what it means to love our neighbor. (That’s my insight, not something I specifically heard from someone else, though I’m sure many have said it. I know many have certainly said similar things.)
    But we do need starting points as it seems to me the path to love is a lifelong journey. And the Golden Rule is a good starting point. I was pointing out what I agree is a subtle error and danger when you interpret the modified Shema of Jesus to limit our love of neighbor to the extent of our often broken and distorted love of self.

  • Scot McKnight

    But, Scott, that’s a very subtle shift in perspective when you say “limit” our love of neighbor to the extent of … Who says that? I hope I’ve never said that. God is Love, and you and I are together on the Perichoresis perception of the Trinity (if I recall that aright), and all love is measured there.
    But Jesus added “love your neighbor as yourself” and the Golden Rule shows, in my opinion, that “as” is connected on a pragmatic basis to loving yourself. That’s all that I think needs to be said. That is, in fact, the standard uses in that statement.
    Oddly enough, Scott, I didn’t do anything with self-love in Jesus Creed and everywhere I went to speak I was asked that very question, and one that I did then address briefly in 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed. The question was this: “What about self-love? Or, Can you love others before you love yourself?” I was a but surprised by that question, and perhaps it is an iGen question (I remember it more from Boomers!).

  • Scott M

    Of course, none of what I said is meant to imply that the way we love ourselves is not as broken and distorted as our love of neighbor or that the two are not so intertwined that they impact each other even as they affect our ability to love God. Our whole ability to love is broken and all must be healed. It’s just that we can’t do that by focusing on any one aspect of love. If we try to first love ourselves appropriately and then love others and then love God (or any other order), we’ll fail. We must pursue them all at the same time as best we can. And when we simply try to love as Jesus showed us how to love through worship, devotion, disciplines, service, and whatever self-care we might truly require, our whole ability to love is healed. Isn’t that what he promises us? We have to practice love in its entirety to the best of our ability to avoid twisting and distorting our capacity for love even further.

  • Scott M

    ‘A new command I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’
    In my mind, that’s the full revelation of what we must do to love God and our neighbor (one command, not two separable commands), not the ‘Golden Rule’. That’s the sort of love where you might sacrifice yourself for the other. In a way, it’s an extrapolation of the ‘Golden Rule’ since we might sometimes want another to sacrifice themselves for us, but it goes well beyond the extent people normally take the ‘Golden Rule’ and a discussion of ‘self-love’. Arguably, only when you are willing to sacrifice all for love of the other have you truly learned to love yourself. But again, that’s not usually what people have in mind when they ask about loving themselves.
    But most importantly, the command to love your neighbor doesn’t depend on your ability to love yourself, even if your capacity to obey the command is undoubtedly impacted. Rather, the command to love your neighbor is a command to love them because they also bear the image of God. They are, in that sense, you. I know others have said it much better than I’ve managed to say it. If I could remember any references, I would share them. It’s one of those things I know I found in several places, but it worked itself so deeply into my inner self that I don’t specifically recall where.
    I don’t know. Maybe you have to experienced some of the extreme distortion I have experienced for the difference in nuance of meaning to really strike home. It’s one of those things that immediately struck me as deeply true. I wish I could express it better.

  • Scot McKnight

    Well, you’ve changed the discussion. God is Love is the origins; God’s Love within the Trinity; God’s love expressed in creating Eikons who are designed to love God back and love themselves and love others is next…
    No one disputes that loving as JEsus loved us is more fundamental than loving ourselves. But the Shema shape of Jesus in Mark 12:28-32 doesn’t say that. Your suggestion that “as” meant “as Eikons” is plausible but does not really fit the Golden Rule. That’s all I was saying.
    I think we’ve crossed wires here. I responded to the “as” comment and I think you are doing a theology of love and I’m talking about specifics. I think we agree on the theology of love, though. I agree that we can only learn to love ourselves fully when we love God and love others in a sacrificing way. Love is in some sense death to the self for it to be genuine love.

  • Dana Ames

    1) I share Julie’s frustration; istm that from what you are posting of the book, Scot, it’s just another riff on “Kids these days…!” (Some wise guy once said there’s no such thing as “the good old days”. Ecc 1.9-10)
    2) While I generally agree with Scott M that our love is broken and the “standard” is Jesus’ love for us, I do believe that love constitutes us. Where there is love, there is life: that’s why the Trinity both exists and had to create; that’s why we can (in the best cases) tell our small children, when they ask where babies come from, that they came from the love of their mommy and daddy. Even in the brokenness, our love brings others to life. If we are eikons of the Trinitarian Godhead, who is a communion of Persons in self-giving love, we can expect to experience this reality, even “through a glass darkly”. This is why infants who are ignored die. This is why those who have the Trinitarian Life within because of trusting loyalty to Jesus are designated a body, who are members of one another, rather than individuals (another line of related EO thought). We love because he first loved us.
    Children whose parents (or other significant adults in their lives) love them reasonably well tend to simply do better in all areas of life, and are able to empathize with and show love to others. This is so for every generation.

  • Scot McKnight

    OK, Julie and Dana, I’m going to back down on this for a moment. I’m trying to defend Twenge’s analysis because I’ve read her book, seen her statistics, and know where the book is headed … but I’ll grant you this. She’s relentlessly hard on trends she’s worried about, and I’ve focused on that because I think she does. I think I’m being fair to her chapters … someone else who is reading here might want to weigh in whether or not I’m being fair to Twenge in my summaries.
    But, what needs to be said is that she’s concerned about trends she’s observing in numbers. She is an iGen; she sees the good and the bad in the iGens. And her conclusion is different in tone. The question I think we need to ask is if her studies are showing demonstrable trends.
    Monday I’ll post about another book upon whom she’s built some of her research.

  • Scott M

    I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sidetrack the discussion. Probably no-one else finds the distinction as helpful or important as I do. I’m not sure I get why you think a bit from his public teaching (as exemplified in the Sermon on the Mount) is a better lens through which to interpret the modified Shema than the teaching and commands in the upper room. But that’s certainly a rabbit trail.

  • RJS

    I know I sometimes feel this way as a true book lover – but are books really people?

  • Scot McKnight

    RJS???????? Don’t get that statement.

  • Scot McKnight

    I see “upon whom” … “upon which”.

  • RJS

    Monday I’ll post about another book upon whom she’s built some of her research.
    (By the way – I am raising my children…)

  • Dana Ames

    I can certainly grant that there may be an intensification of the issues she identifies, for a variety of reasons. It’s just that I don’t think the issues are necessarily new. Trends? I don’t know… it will probably take until a couple of more generations -and we may be gone by then- to figure that out.

  • RJS

    You are right – we cannot see into the future. But the strength of Twenge’s work is that she can “see into the past” in a fashion by analyzing survey results among comparable cohorts.
    There is some real value in this book. I have not finished it, so I am waiting to see where she goes with it.

  • cas

    I’ve been a bit unsatisfied with your last couple summaries, but haven’t had time to go back and figure out why. Is the summaries or the book itself? I’ve also wondered if this is really a good book for discussion. Too many landmines and too easy to digress into stereotyping and talking past one another. As an editor, I would really want to cut this book in half and what I’d cut is the excessive anecdote that dilutes the convincing hard data.

  • Dana Ames

    I’ll be interested in seeing where she goes.

  • I don’t mean to be harsh, but the discussion of this book seems to be negative and condemning without any positive merit. I’ve been waiting for there to be any positive constructive elements. If they are simply all at the end of the book, that’s fine – but according to the Amazon reviews they don’t even show up there. I just wonder if the book’s only purpose is to condemn. I know I could just ignore the discussion, but I am curious. And while I’m used to most people disagreeing with me, it seems like one cannot challenge this book without having random statistics thrown back in one’s face as if they negate any discussion. I do see a lot of truth in the summaries you present, but there are also things that simply don’t ring true to my experience. I don’t agree that the things she sees as negative and dangerous are truly so nor that these are trends that are exclusive to this generation. Is there room for those discussions, or should those of us with questions like that simply sit-out on this one?

  • Scot McKnight

    You are more than welcome to disagree with her or anyone else. The issue for me is that this book is rooted in solid social-scientific data about generational changes. She sees some trends and shifts. I don’t see how to disagree with that without appealing to better and conclusive data.
    Her statements are illustrative of the trend in generations.
    Appeal to experience, whether mine or hers, isn’t much of an argument is it? that is, if the evidence is demonstrable? And I can say that some of her evidence doesn’t match some of my experience with students; much of it does.
    I have to confess: I’m prone to trust the evidence of good researchers. I’m prone to question how that evidence is put together at times. So, for me, I trust her evidence; I trust her conclusions about trends; I read her illustrative quotations.

  • I just don’t buy sociological research as absolute or all that convincing. If she uses the research in ways that contradict experience and for which other conclusions are possible, then I have difficultly simply accepting numbers because they are numbers.
    but then again that may just be a dangerous trend representative of my generation… 🙂

  • Scott M
    Some thoughts about self-love.
    As parents, we teach our children to eat their vegetables, look both ways before crossing the streets, and not to talk to strangers. As adults we encourage people to get physicals, get plenty of sleep, and wear their seatbelts. Are we teaching people to be selfish? No. We are teaching them self-love.
    Love is about action. We say follow Jesus’ example and teaching of “love one another” but what was Jesus’ example? He became like one of us so he could empathize with our condition and respond accordingly. That is to say he drew on his own experience of being in our condition, empathized with us, and then loved us. Interest in ourselves and loving ourselves is integral to loving others.
    Appeals to self-love are pervasive in the Bible. Jesus and New Testament writers make appeals to our love of self to bring a change in our behavior. In Matthew 7 Jesus said, “Do not Judge …” Why? “… so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” Isn’t this a direct appeal to our self-love; the avoidance of judgment?
    In Matthew 16:25-26, Jesus teaches: “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?”
    Isn’t the point here that our soul is more valuable then ownership of the whole world? Therefore, it is in our “self-interest” to protect our soul and avoid being deluded by worldly enticements.
    Martin Luther King, Jr. has a wonderful sermon called, “The Drum Major Instinct,” reflecting on Mark 10:35-45, where James and John ask to be seated at Jesus’ side. King notes that Jesus’ never rebukes them for asking this. On the contrary. He says, “Go for it! And here is how you get there: You put everyone else ahead of yourself, better than anyone else ever has, and the seats are yours.” In other words, selfishness is not in your self-interest. Benevolence and caring for others is. Do what is in your self-interest, just be sure you understand what your true self-interest is.
    Pitting loving ourselves and loving others against each other is like pitting inhaling against exhaling. You end up in a very unhealthy place.

  • BeckyR

    If you’re talking about normies, who come out of good childhoods, good homes, then I would expect there is self love and self esteem there. I am a boomer, but I also am a human being who experiences what other’s experience. I came from a bad home and it took a counselor loving me for me to know what love was and then be able to love myself, experience God’s love for me, and loving others came out of that. I wonder if there’s an unhealthy attempt at loving self when it isn’t there in the first place and the person hasn’t a clue of what it is.

  • cas

    You wrote:
    “The discussion of this book seems to be negative and condemning without any positive merit.” I would disagree with that statement as an absolute. I think it has had merit. It’s been difficult for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the way she puts the information together and some throw away comments within the text that got included in the summaries.

  • I can tell you one generational difference that seems to have emerged.
    All through the ’90s and until recently there was a flood of books and articles on Generation X (born in the ’60s and ’70s) that were excoriating. Far more critical than anything Twenge is saying about iGens (at least based on Scot’s posts.) Gen X response? “Yeah. Whatever.”
    This generation actually seems to care about its group status and takes offense.

  • ChrisE

    #30 Michael
    I made a similar observation in an earlier thread re: Twnege. It has been amusing to me to read all the pushback Scot has gotten from iGens about this topic. We GenXers were sort of intrigued by all the attention back in the 90s. We also recognized the truth of much of what was being said. It helped in some ways for us to identify why we were so different from the generations that preceded us. What a relief to find out it’s just that we don’t care!

  • cas

    I posted one of my son’s later poems on a blog I’m developing of his work, which he expressed a desire to share. I think it probably best explains my interest and perspective on this topic.

  • Genesis 2:18
    The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
    This could be a clue.

  • #31 ChrisE
    And there is another piece to this as well. I’ve been reading this stuff for almost thirty years (yes, I started reading at six months) and the question I come back to is this. Each budding generation didn’t raise itself. Whatever traits may have emerged (good or bad) are there because of the nurture of the parents. So when I see “iGens overly self-focused” I don’t generally think “what terrible kids.” I immediately see Boomer parents and wonder what’s the matter with you people (okay, full disclosure, for me …”us” people … barely)? This was the same thing I thought when I read about the Gen Xers. What’s up with the parents?
    It seems to me that Boomers spent the first half of their generational existence tearing down institutions and traditions, and are now spending the second half of their existence blaming younger generations for becoming who they are under Boomer tutelage. 🙂 And I think some Boomers get sensitive about criticism of iGens because they are at least partly aware it is also a criticism on Boomers as parents.

  • RJS

    And I wait with trepidation for the book on the next generation – as also a boomer (barely) who followed the iGen timeline (marry “late”, children “late”) – my kids are not yet in the 18-35 demographic.
    What have we done to our kids…someone will surely step forward to tell us all.

  • Scott M

    BeckyR, I know a thing or three about abuse and distorted experiences of reality. :/ I’ve been reflecting that that probably fed some aspects of the perspective I was attempting to express. But I tend to share the concern I gathered from the post expresses from the book that self-focus, especially extended periods of self-focus, is a poor and possibly ineffective way to move to love of others. I needed to experience love from people expressly following this God in order to admit the possibility of a personal god who loved us. More generally, although I did experience more than enough love growing up to keep from being totally distorted, it was confused enough that I needed to both be loved and practice love of others before I would say my own self-perception could really move forward. I’m not sure all the self-focus in the world would have ever helped me. Nor do I really think that any more than the most moderate amount in conjunction with a lot of other focus (and as a Christian now I would add God focus) will help most people.
    I guess it might have been some of that GenX quality seeping through my lens as the parent of ‘iGens’ when I wrote about that above. It’s not really ‘whatever’, though it may come across that way. I’ll see if some of it does seem to match my experience of my kids and their friends and if it does and it points to some conclusions that seem helpful in some way, I’ll consider them. If something doesn’t match my experience or doesn’t seem useful or helpful, I’ll blow it off. It’s about the same way I treated the volumes of material people used to write about GenX. So I guess I haven’t really changed in that regard. Probably why I don’t have any particularly strong ‘generational’ reactions.

  • Scott M

    Actually, it looks like ‘iGens’ are a mix parented by late boomers (who are actually distinct in most generational markers from both early boomers and GenX) and GenX (who were pretty much the first generation of boomer kids). By just about every generational marker, including age, I’m definitely early GenX. But I have kids ranging from 12 to 27, also definitely well into the provided ‘iGen’ boundary. Anyway, I’m not sure there are clear generational parenting boundaries here. (Not that generational stuff is ever as clear as we tend to want to package it up for discussion’s sake.)

  • Diane

    Yes, I agree this is really a critique of Boomer parents. I too am a late Boomer who had children somewhat late, so my oldest is not quite 18. Thus, I point the finger at my own or almost my own.
    Also, as others have said, I don’t think there’s all that much difference between people. Maybe differences in how surveys are answered.

  • The oldest Millennials (1981-2001) were predominantly parented by Boomers (the oldest Gen Xers were 20 when Millennials first came on the scene) but with each year you move through the group the weight shifts toward Gen X parents.
    However, Twenge is not using age breaks similar to the likes of Stauss and Howe. S & H Millennials would be 8-27 years old today . Twenge is going with 18-35, as I recall. Age 35 would mean born in 1973 when the oldest Xers were 12. I think Twenge’s iGens would be predominately Boomer reared.

  • RJS

    And where do you define boomers and xers?

  • RJS

    19xx-1960? (1941 or 1946?)

  • Strauss and Howe would say;
    Boomers: 1943-1960
    Gen X: 1961-1981
    Statistically, the baby boom (i.e. the rise of above the norm) was about 1946 and returned to the norm in 1964. S & H are measuring from from trough to peak, assuming that reversals from trajectories are more significant indicators about parenting decisions than crossing some statistical average of births. More to it then that but that is a key factor.
    Again, I use the generational stuff with a careful balance of embrace and caution. Generations are not discreet entities and there is a slide from one into the next. S & H talk in terms of changing moods from generation to generation as opposed to hard and fast character traits. That captures the idea better for me.

  • Scott M

    Hmmm. I’ve normally seen 1965 listed as the first year of GenX. But there’s a lot of variation in such things. There’s no clear demarcation. And people are only recently noting the generational differences between early boomers and late boomers.

  • Scott M

    And I’ve just noticed the timing on my comment. I must have been reading and typing as Michael was submitting his comment. I was actually responding to RJS, not him. I wouldn’t really disagree with him. The things about generations are more guides and trends than rules and clear categories. I think more people my age are more like the late boomers than they are GenX in the predominant attitudes and trends. It’s not like a sudden light switch you flip. More than age, a lot of it depends on who your parents were and the cultural context within which you were raised.

  • #44
    I agree Scott. We are talking transitions in hues as opposed to a stark flip from one color to another.
    Landon Jones coined the term Baby Boomer back in 1980 and he used the 1946-1964 era because that was what demographers were identifying as the statistical rise above, and fall to, the statistical norm. It is probably still the most widely used framing but I think Strauss and Howe make a much better case for the dates based on a variety of variables.
    You were born in ’65. I was born in ’59. The most dysfunctional group of children and young adults growing up in the last fifty years were the kids born about 1960-1964. S & H give special attention to this sub-group in “Generations.” Over the last fifty years they’ve had the lowest test scores in school, the highest rates of crime, and the highest rates of drug and alcohol use as teenagers and young adults. They’ve tended not to engage with volunteer organizations or be backers of idealistic causes. From ’65 on things seem to improve bit by bit but never have returned to the compliant behaviors of kids in the ’50s and early ’60s.
    It would appear that you and I are bookends to the abyss. 🙂

  • cas

    Yes, Michael, and my husband and I are children of the abyss, born in 1961 and 1964 respectfully. I’d say we made up for the vices with plenty of volunteer work and more idealism than was healthy for us or our children.

  • Scott M

    I didn’t know that. But I went to school with those kids. Still have many friends in that group. And married two of them. 😉 I had never really considered it, but that description of the trend pretty much matches my experience of the people I knew and know. Odd. I guess it’s just been part of my ‘normal’ world experience from which I differed (as usual). When people write about GenX trends and tendencies and attitudes and behaviors I’m so GenX it makes me laugh. I resisted that label for years just as I resisted the ‘postmodern’ label. I finally gave up on both counts. My protestations were just too ridiculous. In some ways, I am the product of my environment in ways that can be measured and tracked. Whether I like it or not.