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The School News Site of Bonner Springs High School

The Pow Wow

The School News Site of Bonner Springs High School

The Pow Wow

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Mind the Gap – All About the Generational Divide

Photo credit: Wikipedia
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Gen Z, Millennials, Boomers – these familiar terms are all names for different generations, which separate people into groups based on when they were born. In recent years, however, generations have come to represent more than just your age and life experiences. Different habits and behaviors are associated with each generation, stereotypes that may or may not be accurate.

Even if it was based only on birth year, there’s still a lack of clarity with how generations are divided. The general consensus defines Gen Z as being those born between 1997-2012, but there is still some dispute. Some say Gen Z really starts in 2000, and anyone born in the last few years of the 90s is a “Cusper” – on the cusp of Millennial but not quite Gen Z.

The most recent generation, Gen Alpha, as it’s being called, also isn’t completely agreed upon. Depending on who you ask, Gen Alpha starts anywhere between 2010-2012.

Where, you might ask, did all these terms for generations come from? The only official generation designated by the US Census Bureau is the Baby Boomer generation, named for the significant surge in births after World War II. Boomers are defined as those born between 1946-1964. As for every other generation, the birth year ranges are mostly determined over time by media and popular opinion.

Each generation is partly based on life experiences, language, technological influences, and attitudes. Millennials, for example, are all old enough to have at least some memory of the 9/11 attacks. Millennials have also been affected by the 2008 recession.

The most recent generations are shaped heavily by technology. Most of Gen Z – and all of Gen Alpha – haven’t known life without smartphones and social media. As a result, the way the younger generations communicate with each other, work, and entertain themselves is drastically different than the older generations.

To get personal input from people who would know, I interviewed someone within each generation here at BSHS.

Mrs. Yewell, one of the senior English teachers, was born in 1988, which makes her a Millennial. Mrs. Yewell feels that she embodies some traits typically associated with her generation, but also has some qualities of Gen X from having older siblings.

As mentioned previously, one thing Millennials have in common is that they have memories of 9/11. Mrs. Yewell shares that she was in 7th grade when it happened. Another big event she recalls having a big impact on her was the Columbine shooting. “Before Columbine, it was just assumed like school was a really safe place…That was a real eye opener,” she says.

Mrs. Yewell feels that the way generations are separated is fairly accurate, but acknowledges that there will always be some crossover in behavior and life experiences. Some born at the very end of one generation could just as easily identify more with the next generation.

She also thinks that regions/locations play a part in it. “My experience as a millennial is probably very different than somebody in New York City’s experience as a millennial,” says Mrs. Yewell.

Mrs. Baker, another senior English teacher, was born in 1964. Although that is the last year of the Baby Boomer generation, she is still the Gen X representative, having grown up entirely in that time frame.

She believes that the typical Gen X traits, such as being resourceful and self-reliant, are accurate to who she is. An event that impacted her early childhood the most was the civil rights movement. She specifically recalls some issues with buses when she was a kid.

The Vietnam war was also going on while Mrs. Baker was growing up, but she doesn’t have too many memories of it. “I was so young…I was pretty sheltered from that by my parents,” Mrs. Baker shares, “it’s just different because growing up, I didn’t have TVs, I didn’t have radios, I didn’t have all that stuff that you guys constantly have this information that you see openly. I only got to see and hear what [my parents] wanted me to see and hear.”

Mrs. Baker feels that categorizing people based on when they were born isn’t really necessary. “I don’t really think it’s necessarily the year that you’re born, but more about your environment and the people you surround yourself with and the situation that you are in that…establishes those norms.”

For the Gen Z perspective, I will share my personal thoughts. I was born in 2006. I don’t feel like I fit with the typical idea of a Gen Zer. I have the same childhood experiences, so I can share in the nostalgia with my peers, but I don’t really have a lot of the same interests or use the same slang usually associated with Gen Z.

I feel like there aren’t very many big events that Gen Z has lived through, unless you count the Covid-19 pandemic. For me personally, though, that didn’t dramatically affect me.

The “generation gap”, as it’s sometimes called, could be a harmless social construct, but it could also have negative effects, creating reasons for different generations to make fun of or criticize each other.

Mrs. Yewell thinks it is harmless, for the most part. “I think that often it’s used as a way to divide people, not necessarily in a positive way,” she says, “but as long as it’s not used to fight with other people, then I don’t see it as necessarily a bad thing.”

Mrs. Baker shares similar feelings, but with a more negative opinion on it. “I think it’s an easy out, if you don’t really have a great reason to feel that way,” she shares. “It’s a way for people to judge people, and I’m not a big believer in judgment. I think everybody should have the same opportunity to define themselves beyond a label.”

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About the Contributor
Lyra Thompson
Lyra Thompson, Writer
Lyra Thompson is 17 years old and a senior at Bonner Springs High School. She's had a passion for writing from a very young age and wants to be a fiction author and journalist in the future. In school, Lyra is involved in Scholar's Bowl, National Honors Society, FCA, and Academic Decathlon. Outside of school, she works at Cookie Co. in Lenexa. In her free time, Lyra loves to read, sing, play video games and board games, and watch TV.

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