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The Difference Between Generation X and Gen Y Millennials

Hipsters in OKC

Hipsters in OKC

A guest post about the difference between Generation X and Gen Y (Millennial)

by Mike Waltman

With due respect to Emptyage, I am not sick of the Millennials; I’m jealous as hell. In fact, to hear most journalists describe it, Millennials are stoically and heroically facing the same challenges Gen X did, they’re just more tech-savvy and better looking.

Since that quintessential characteristic of Gen X—persevering despite crippling adversity—is now being doled out like cloying compliments from a dance club Casanova,  I fear people’s very ability to distinguish generational cohorts is being jeopardized. Therefore, to help the general public differentiate between these virtual identical twins while it is still possible, I have developed the following matrix, based on very real-life experience.

Gen Y
Gen X
Faced post-college joblessness by moving back home with parents
Faced post-college joblessness by crashing at friends’ apartment (no room at Mom’s)
Watched Occupiers protest with raised lattes as police maced
Watched rioters burn down LA as police dithered
Constant attention from helicopter parents is such a bummer
Signing your younger siblings’ report cards and giving them your lunch money is such a bummer
Saw former football star imprisoned after awry sale
Saw former football star golf after dual murders
Spiritual guidance: Joel Osteen or Rick Warren?
Spiritual guidance: Jimmy Swaggart or Tammy Faye Baker?
Pesky employers won’t post jobs on Facebook and Twitter
Pesky employers won’t post jobs
Public schools: mostly Glee meets High School Musical 
Public schools: mostly first scenes of Lean on Me
Government boosts economy with Recovery Act stimulus and bailouts
Government boosts economy with Gramm-Rudman Act assistance-slashing and spending caps
Major void in Ipod after Napster shut down
Major void in soul after dad moved out
At least we can dance away our troubles in the feel-good tunes of Ke$ha, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber
At least we can dance away our troubles in the feel-good tunes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Beck

Well, hope that helps. I guess the pundits are right: aside from those minor differences in the way we dealt with hardship (or, more specifically, in the way society was expected to ameliorate our hardships) there are precious few differences in these two generations that met generational turbulence with the golly-gosh-darn tenacity that makes us all American.

However, for those few who care to look closer—believe me, very few—a difference can be seen in the way one generation faced economic recession with every supporting societal institution of family, religion, authority and government collapsing calamitously beneath them, while the other faced it with the munificent support of all of these. Plus, exploding technological advance and the absence of being perpetually in the shadow of an ever-clamoring older cohort.

Like I said, I’m not mad at Gen Y (hell, I raised three wonderful ones), nor do I deny them the virtue of dealing with truly difficult challenges…but, I am yet to find one who would have traded places with their older ‘twins.’

Thanks, Mike, for this terrific blog post. I love the matrix. For another guest post from Mike see My Uncles Can Beat Up Your Uncles, February 2011.

What do you think is the biggest difference between Generation X and Gen Y?

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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