Friday, November 14, 2014

Gen Alpha, Part 1

Writing update: After Her Death is currently with an editor! I'm expecting some good feedback in the next month or so. Just in time for our baby to arrive and shelve my editing process for a while. :) Which brings me to the topic of this post.

I'm a little obsessed with demographics, both on the micro level--personalities--and macro--generations. (Okay, my friends would say a lot obsessed.) I find these observational patterns to be helpful not only navigating relationships in real life, but also creating compelling, realistic characters in novel life.

Naturally, I wasn't surprised with my husband asked me what I thought our baby's generation was.

"She's not Gen Z." I replied confidently. Nothing against Gen Z--they might be the most overlooked, under-appreciated generation alive. But, depending on when she decides to make her appearance, our daughter could possibly be born in 2015 (so much for that tax credit), which is 15 to 20 years after the start of Gen Z (depending on which generational theory you ascribe to).

After mulling it over, I concluded that my baby was probably near the beginning of a new generation. So then I did what any reasonable person would do. I checked that bastion of definitive, reliable information: the Internet.

My research didn't prove successful at first. Most American sociologists wrongly (IMHO) define generations in 20 year blocks. Except for Gen X for some reason. They get a pass with a 15 year span, but then successive generations Y and Z are back to 20 year spans.

Here is the typical breakdown of existing generations:

1. Greatest Gen (born 1900-1925)
2. Silent Gen (1925-1945)
3. Baby Boomers (1945-1965)
4. Gen X (1965-1980)
5. Gen Y (1980-2000)
6. Gen Z (2000-2020)

This unenlightened perspective pegs my baby as Gen Z.

I'll spare you my rant here for why I think from Gen X forward, generations are in squishy 15 year spans. Let's just say I was SUPER excited when I discovered Mark McCrindle, an Australian researcher who is a popular TedX speaker and demographics consultant here in the States.

McCrindle recognizes the shift that occurred with Gen X continued forward with successive generations--at least in the West. For a whole host of legitimate reasons, the length of generations has contracted down to 15 years. Thus, here are better, albeit, squishier, generational boundaries:

1. Gen X: 1965-1980ish
2. Gen Y/Millennials: 1980ish-1995
2. Gen Z: 1995-2010ish
3. Gen Alpha: 2010ish- ??

According to McCrindle, then, my daughter is at the head of a new generation. One that he's dubbed Gen Alpha (where else do you go after Z??). There isn't much to say about Gen Alpha's characteristics yet because the oldest of them will only be 5 next year. However, I have some totally untested, wild theories about Gen Alpha and how they fit into the larger generational scheme of things. I'll share these over the next couple of posts.

In the meantime, isn't it nice that we can use the Internet to validate our biased presuppositions?


  1. I've been so anxious for baby news! And generational stuff is so fascinating. I read an article recently on how Generation Z is likely to turn more conservative since they watched this presidential administration bungle things. Z or Alpha, I'm so excited for you both and wish you strength and vitality, peace and joy at this next stage. Will be waiting with bated breath!

    1. I think you're on to something with Gen Z. They, (like the Silent Gen) are more institution maintainers--inherently more conservative in nature. Might have something to do with growing up during an economic downturn. Not to say that their individual personalities can't be progressive or innovative, but that their generation as whole in their approach to life, I would expect to see them more conservative in their 20s and 30s than previous generations were at that stage (ie, yours and mine!) :)

      Thank you so much for the encouragement with the baby too!! We're getting excited to meet her! and I'm curious to find out if all this birth prep (we did a Bradley class) turns out to be helpful for us. ( I know others have found it beneficial.)

  2. Your last comment made me laugh. So true! And congratulations on working with an editor!

    Is there a easy read about generational breakdown and descriptions that you would recommend?

    1. Thanks! :) As much as I argued that babies and books AREN'T the same, I do feel some sort of maternal anxiousness that the editor overall thinks my "book baby" is substantially healthy enough to submit to an agent (with some good editing of course).

      You know, I've been looking for a good read on generational breakdowns. The best condensed descriptions I've found (although it's not necessarily the easiest read) is on a wiki page (ironically enough). In Gen Alpha, Part 2, I'll include the link. :) That post should go up tomorrow.

      If you come across something in your own reading/research--let me know!


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