Friday, September 16, 2016

Editorial: The next generation might have named itself

“We’re more connected to people around the world because of technology. In past generations we’d be advised to fit in. Now the more you stand out, the more celebrated you’ll be.” - Youth to Nathan Heller, The New Yorker magazine.

The largest American generation since the baby boomers will soon be driving cars. By what name will they be known? Many tags have been bandied about, among them: Gen Z, iGen, Posts, Homeland Generation, ReGen, Plurals and a host of other ho-hum suggestions. So, we end up with a generation that appears to want to break away from millennial but, as yet, can’t be addressed stereotypically with a name.

MTV, the cable and satellite network, along with other commercial enterprises, has been studying this new generation for the past few years. MTV probably made the most progress in discovering an identifying moniker. In March of 2015, MTV generated 544 potential names. The list was presented to over 1,000 students fourteen years of age, or thereabouts. The name most chosen was “the Founders.” Who knows if the name will find general acceptance.

Clearly, a new segment of youth does not want the umbrella of millennials to be extended to cover them. They see the moniker, “millennials,” for those 18-35 years old as too broad. Those around the ages of 18-22 have come to feel like tagalongs, feel estranged from millennials, and would rather be part of a newer generation beginning at age 14.

MTV president Sean Adkins says the name acknowledges that, while millennials have disrupted society, it’s this new generation’s job to rebuild it. “They have this self-awareness that systems have been broken [and they] don’t want to be the generation that says we’ll break it even more.”

The consensus seems to be that millennials have dismantled this culture and the “Founders” feel themselves to have inherited a blank slate on which to write the rubrics of a new culture.

Stay tuned for more on this subject in the next issue.


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