Generation gap

I ran across this on LinkedIn last week. It’s really fairly cheesy, and just plain lazy as well: what are most of those graphics? was there any logic informing the lists of “formative experiences?” does anyone believe that a single word of the “Generation Z” column is more than pure made-up babble?

Cheesy generations graphic

Not remotely the most stupid thing on LinkedIn, though. Even in the past week.

Still, I kept it because it feels kind of interesting, to me, if only as an illustration of how “Carter babies” like myself split the difference between Gen-X and Gen-Y. (In a way I suppose you could say that we almost validate this model, at the same time as we demonstrate how it imposes completely arbitrary boundaries upon a continuum.)

I mean, I remember the Fall of the Berlin Wall, but probably not like I would if I had been an adult. I remember Gorby, too… but Live Aid, no, left no impression on seven-year-old me. “Early mobile technology” is an absurdly arbitrary term, but if we just translate it as “cell phones” then yes, this one does resonate. No one had them when I was a child; in college we made fun of the one guy in my dorm who had one because obviously it meant he was a drug dealer; by my late 20s I was an anomaly for not owning one.

On the other hand, the Millennials’ list feels about as resonant for me. I remember the world losing its mind in September 2001 much more vividly than I remember the collapse of the Communist bloc. I remember despairing at the completely inappropriate invasion of Iraq that followed two years later. But I really dragged my feet on social media. (Were “reality TV” or “Google Earth” formative experiences for anyone?)

I also feel like both the X and Y entries for “Attitude Toward Career” describe me. Maybe it’s because I’m a designer, but I like the term “Portfolio Career;” I don’t know if I’m loyal to my profession but loyalty to an employer (other than myself) definitely seems like a laughably archaic concept. I suppose that I am also, realistically, something of a “digital entrepreneur” if we imagine that the phrase has actual meaning.

Then there’s the “Communication Media” section. Like Generation X, I rely heavily on e-mail; like Generation Y, I make use of social media (other than Facebook, which I think might nearly be an anti-marker for Gen Y). But unlike both of them I hardly ever use text messaging, ha ha!

I suppose that one gets the gist. Since I’m posting this purely for amusement, though, I do want to note one interesting feature of the icons. Most of these are either obvious or bizarrely random. But I couldn’t help note that a “formal letter” is represented by a simple rectangle with lines (of text, presumably), while electronic mail is represented by an envelope. The virtual media, in other words, is represented by the shape of a physical object, while the physical media is represented by what looks at this degree of abstraction as much like a window in an e-mail application as a paper letter.

I have written on such curiosities a time or two before, but the particular irony here is delightful.

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