When time used to go slower, generations lasted for decades – a minimum of a quarter of a century. The last long generation was the Silent Generation. Baby boomers didn’t really last for twenty years and none of the following ones seems to have lasted for more than fifteen years.
Those of us who are in the active share of the population must cope with fast evolving values in the world. Obviously, the experience with the millennials was the most revolutionary one.
Narcissism might have been a lurking feature within the baby-boomers. Feeling themselves as drops in the ocean, they thought their own children to cope with that feeling, teaching them to see themselves rather as snowflakes, each unique and with intrinsic beauty – at least for the short time that before they become again drops…
Millennials often claim to be the first global generation. They effectively travelled more than any previous generation. However, being global means capability to listen, accept, reach… very different from the self-centred, judgemental and hygienic approach of the selfie generation. Definitely not attitude keen to bring people together.
However, amidst the thousand reproaches for 5-minutes-attention span, etc… the millennials are very likely to be the first generation to have grown up in loving, completely dedicated households. X-generationers, and even more so baby-boomers, were hopefully the last ones to receive thrashings and ear-tugging, as well as other corporeal punishments. The millennials however were the first ones to enjoy the society protecting them from this kind of abuse. We might also expect them to be the first generation also to avoid abusing their own partners, physically or verbally, when living in couple.
X-generation and their offspring, Y-generation are consistently building a more human and philanthropic society. However, the Y-generation must deal with the cultural heritage of the millennials, with the dramatic impoverishment of culture due to the above-mentioned Reality TV, Talent show and other 5-seconds-attention-span issues. “In the reign of the blind, the one-eyed is king”, which should make it easier for this cultivated and talented generation to thrive. Will they manage to give the social media a new meaning as merely an archive in such an ephemeral context which promotes Snapchat as most popular platform?
However, the sons and daughters of the millennials might still fulfil in some way the hubris of their fathers: they might become the first truly global generation. Qualified as AVID’s by marketing professionals, they have been fostered by the more tolerant references created by the X and Y generations and are clearly more open to diversity and tolerance than their parents.
Whereas nobody discusses the unavoidability of the ‘approaching adulthood’ or ‘digitally native’, the ‘influencer awareness’ and being ‘video driven’ are definitively aspects to take in account.
We don’t have to consider specifically the successful campaigns of the Russian troll-factories in most of the significant polls in Western World in the last years, to understand the danger of non-controlled influencers operating in our societies. If a cosmetic motivational speaker may sway you to use a more costly cosmetic simply because a shade looks better in the artificial lightning of a tutorial, this is definitively an aspect to dread when these consumers become voters.
Culturally, a generation being ‘video driven’ will also deal a deathly blow to all acoustic arts, such as stage theatre and classical music, where the relation between natural sound and its expanding in space is fundamental, in favour of microphones and boosted sound amplification.
However, this generation will at the end acquire another name: hopefully “Global generation”. It will after all be the first one to feel as constrictive the geographical boundaries of the earth – be it for over-population or for the acceleration of the transports. Thanks to the legacy of internet, the cultural references will also hopefully become more univocal together with the flattening of the cultural and ethical divide.
The generation following them, on the other hand, might be the first “interplanetary generation”, being grandsons and daughters of Elon Musk and Richard Branson…
Let’s just welcome the inter-generational challenge offered to us by the millennials, and dance on the edge of future.