Saturday, April 17, 2010

Generation What?

The term "Millennials" has been picking up steam as an alternative to the label "Generation Y." This makes a bit of sense, since Gen Y is merely a weak reference to "Generation X," a label that was popularized by Douglas Coupland's 1991 book with that title. It was poor form to just continue on labelling generational cohorts alphabetically, starting with see how limiting that would be.

The term Millennials was popularized by American researchers William Strauss and Neil Howe, in their 2000 book Millennials Rising. Howe and Strauss were of the opinion that the Millennials would be the 'next great generation,' and that they ushered in the dawn of a new millennial age. We can maybe forgive Howe and Strauss for their romanticism, since this generation was made up of teenagers when the book was written, and we were all still relative newbies on the Internet. Well, a decade later, (a decade that brought us YouTube, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, among other things), the moniker 'Millennials' seems a bit dated.

Now that the people of this cohort have largely entered adulthood (if age 18 is an adult these days) and we have a clearer picture of the cohort's characteristics, it's maybe time for a more appropriate name. Here are some of the ideas that have been suggested:
  • Generation Me
  • The Net Generation
  • The Entitled Generation
  • The Trophy Generation
  • The Myspace/Facebook Generation
  • The Peter Pan Generation
  • The "Special Me" Generation
None of these seem to really capture the essence. The question is open...what do we call these people? (...and "we refuse to be labelled" is not a valid answer).

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