Generational divide: Boomers, Millennials and GenX


It’s true that most of the key positions at Triad City Beat are held by white males. But among the ofay, there exists a generational rift spanning three turns of the cycle.

We’ve got a genuine Baby Boomer in the advertising department, and a managing editor solidly entrenched in the Millennial generation.

Three of us fall within the defined years of Generation X — which began in the late 1960s, after the hangover of the Sexual Revolution began to set in, and ended in 1981, right around the time the AIDS crisis set in. Or Ronald Reagan. Take your pick.

GenX is overrepresented in our ranks. The generation itself is dwarfed by the sheer numbers of the Boomers, whose parents had the advantages of postwar intercourse and inneffective birth control to beef up their ranks. But they’re dying off — Pew Research says there were just 74.9 million left in 2015 — the Millennials overtook them as the largest generation with 75.4 million that same year.

And while the Boomers shrink, the Millennial generation is actually growing at a significant rate, according to Pew, as young immigrants are added to its numbers. They’re scheduled to peak at 81.1 million by 2036, when there will be fewer than 50 million Boomers.

GenX, by contrast, topped off at 66 million in 2015, again from Pew. It doesn’t sound like a lot until you consider that when the X-ers entered the workforce, they were up against nearly 80 million Boomers and a cohort from the Silent and Greatest generations still plugging away.

Those of us in GenX have noticed, though, that unlike the generation that made it through the Depression, when the Boomers ascended they just sort of hung around for an extra 20 years.

Among its other sins — which include turning a prosperous manufacturing economy into a service-based quagmire, enabling a crushing dependence on fossil fuels, and also the Eagles — the Boomers gummed up the works in business and in politics, only allowing the GenXers a moment in the light that will barely be realized before the Millennials come roaring on.

But the Xers in our office don’t seem to mind the inevitable passing of the torch. The Millennials are the most diverse generation of Americans yet, meaningful when contrasted with the Boomers, who at 75 percent are actually whiter than the rest of the country. They’re community-oriented, fair-minded and comfortable with technology. And they seem to have a mistrust of the institutions Boomers built and perpetuated, a perspective that will be necessary in undoing the damage they wrought.