Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gen X to Gen Z: What a Difference !

I have no idea about when demographers started classification of generations, but the classifications fit the majority. And vast differences exist between each generation, and from generation to generation the gap increases tremendously.  First there were “veterans”, born prior to 1925 who have witnessed World War II and the tumultuous events of World history, next is “ babyboomers” born between 1940 and 1955 who would have come of age between 1960-1970. Rebellion against authority was part of their profile. They were the beneficiaries of economic boom of 60s. Then came Gen X,  my generation, born in early 60s  who were more rebellious against any type of authority and life was a constant struggle against every stereo type of authority. Usually they grew up with two or three more siblings in the house and had to share everything with the siblings from bedroom to bathroom, from soap to towel. In India, this generation like me stared at the colour TV first time when they were in budding twenties, lived with one Doordarshan channel for more than a decade and could relish the countless channels only after their forties. They stood in long lines in their 20s to book a trunk call at post offices to their homes and waited for hours to get connected. They have enjoyed the fruits of telecom revolution and the quintessential cell phone only when after their 40s. PCs and Internet were only  newspaper stories and most would have touched a key board for the first time in their 40s. PCs storage capacity was talked in MBs.Porn was only in books and in their mid 20s VCR was the most sought after personal entertainment device. Rayban goggles was the ultimate fashion statement.  Most of them would have started in their mid 20s with the prized possession of a Bajaj Scooter and caringly dusted it everyday without fail. One VIP suitcase was used  for a life time without it ever getting even a scratch protected with an olive green military standard canvas cloth cover. Eating out in restaurants was rare and when happened it was a family event and talked for weeks. Owning a car was the biggest dream and owning a house was even a bigger dream. Mega schemes were laid out to own a house. First it would be acquiring a plot of land, somewhere on the far outskirts of the town or city and then planning a savings schedule for the next 10 years to construct the dream house. America was the ultimate dream and any one fortunate enough to settle there was a demi God.
Then came Gen Y, born in 80s and by the time they came of age the next century dawned and the Indian economy was in full swing. By the time they crossed teenage, mobile phone has become another organ of the body and internet was being used by millions. Even hick towns sprouted dozens of internet cafes. Porn has moved from books to PCs and computers capacity was talked in GBs.TVs straightened out and became flat. Jazzy bikes replaced the Bajaj scooter and owning a car by  mid 20s did not even call for a comment. Signing up a 20- 30 year EMI  housing loan did not raise any eye brows. America was still  a dream but only for short term assignments or for a holiday. Cooking at home has become irregular. Curry points mushroomed everywhere.  Number of siblings fell to just one. Use of branded goods has become the fashion statement, whose price made their parents miss a heart beat.

Then came Gen Z, born in 90s usually the children of Gen X.  The decades of hard work and painful and planned accumulation of the wealth of Gen X has become the spring board for Gen Z. Nothing but the best is their motto and a thousand rupee note in their hands transforms into loose change in a jiffy. Authority is no problem for them because they have never encountered one. Friends are virtual and all talk happens only on the Face Book and any advice by teacher or parent is immediately put for validation with virtual friends. They are part of one or other virtual social groups with thousands as members. Google is THE only source of reliable  information. Cell phone is no longer just a phone and does everything except cooking. Palm sized phones boast of GB capacities. Two continuous days of eating at home calls for by default home delivery pizza or KFC. Picking up goods without even looking at the price tag attracts no comment. All decisions are taken independently without parental intervention or advice. It is not uncommon to be the only child.

What a change!! And what a gulf of differences with in just one generation!!


Anonymous said...

Dear Ramana,

When I was reading Gen X to Z, it was as if you were describing my life with clinical accuracy. I have done everything you had mentioned, experienced everything you had experienced, felt everything you had felt and my opinions about past and future generations are almost the same. I am now convinced we belong to the same generation not only spatially and temporally but also mentally. Hats off, friend...

Kali Krishna

Venu said...

I fervently protest this bias for Gen X, It reminds me of a dialogue in Heat movie where Robert DeNiro says ' but there is a flip side to the coin' to Alpachino’s strong biased dialogues.
I think Gen X males are excellent wife mangers. If there is an MBA for wife management, all Gen X males can teach with minimal effort. They have the nag of manipulating, maneuvering and concerting and absolute getaway with whatever they want to do. Be it a scotch party, work at home or extra-curricular activities. Gen X males have the art of sipping coffee in their couches and ordering wives from a range of things that would include an ashtray to an innovative kitchen dish. I think very few Gen X males would have actually involved themselves in diaper changing or teaching kids at home. Take a sample of All Gen Y and Z American born Indian girls; more than 80% of them would never like to marry Indian men, they have seen their fathers bossing around and not doing any work at home. Thanks to this wonderful bias created by Gen X.
On the contrary, we all know who wears pants in Gen Y's houses. Most of the Gen Y’s I have seen, believes in equality and they do a lot of work at home giving respect and equality to their spouses. A recent time magazine study * suggests that Gen Y’s are pushing companies for a better work life balance as they want to more involved at home.
I agree with Ramana that Gen X were great rebels at home and I admire them for that but the problem is, they have not let this rebel attitude go and now they want to rebel on their kids too. There is no equality in relationship and there always a crescent glow of know all attitude followed by condescending remarks. I think all Gen X should stop patronizing Gen Z and treat them equal. Please stop giving unlimited Gyan which you have accumulated through ages and stop behaving like sages.
The environment in which Gen Z are growing is different, thanks to information superhighway and huge technology transformations, Gen Z have enormous amount of information available to make a decision. All Gen Z have to steer through landmines of information to make a right choice in life and hence they don’t worry about the price tags on clothes, nor do they take months to decide that something is not working for them. In this current competitive environment, time is critical and Gen Z feels the need to be decisive.
Gen X has been kind enough to provide an environment of enormous corruption which Gen Y and Z is struggling to get rid of. Gen Y and Z’s doesn’t get caught in who made it wrong but they try to focus on how to make it right. Current Gen Y and Z’s don’t care who leads a moment as long as it is for right cause. The current support given by Gen Y and Z’s to Gen X leaders like Anna Hazare is commendable.
Above all from what I have seen, Gen Z has one great attribute of never giving up and they don’t get caught in a never ending loop of bitching about the past. No matter what, I think this spirit has led us to a comprehensive world cup victory in Cricket.
Open for Comments :)