Saturday, March 18, 2023

Book Review: Generations

The United States is currently home to six generations of people: the Silents (born 1925–1945), Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964), Gen X (born 1965–1979), Millennials (born 1980–1994), Gen Z (born 1995–2012) and the still-to-be-named cohorts born after 2012. They have had vastly different life experiences and thus, one assumes, they must have vastly diverging beliefs and behaviors. But what are those differences, what causes them, and how deep do they actually run?

Professor of psychology Jean Twenge does a deep dive into a treasure trove of long-running, government-funded surveys and databases to answer these questions. Are we truly defined by major historical events, such as the Great Depression for the Silents and September 11 for Millennials? Or, as Twenge argues, is it the rapid evolution of technology that differentiates the generations?

Generations: The Real Difference Between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers and the Silents - and What They Mean for America's Future will be released on April 25, 2023. Atria Books provided an early galley for review.

When I saw the listing for this title, I knew it was something I needed to check out. I am clearly a Gen X member, though cusping on the Baby Boomers' end. I was curious to see what Twenge reveals about this. But I also want to know a lot more about the more recent generations too. I have a Gen Z kid, for example, but he definitely does not identify to his group much (often mocking and rejecting their "ways"). I am curious about that too.

After setting the stage with an overview chapter, Twenge dives right into the meaty details. A chapter is devoted to each of the six groups, presenting tons of interesting facts backed by supportive gathered data. Everything from birth rates to political views to substance usage to mental health are noted. Each section also includes popular birth names and famous folks belonging to that group.

As a Gen X who got his start in the technology field, I really appreciated how the author devoted time to talk about the various changes in technology which, in turn, had major effects on each of the groups. I also found interesting the evolution of self-focus that occurred across the generations and how that created dynamics and behaviors.

If you're someone who likes to swim around in the social studies pool, this book is for you. It is definitely one I'll be going back to for reference.

1 comment:

ApacheDug said...

I am intrigued, thanks for the review Martin. Being born in 61, I suppose I'm a boomer but honestly I never felt like one. Maybe this book can answer some questions of my own.