Wait, Which One Am I?
"Gen Y" or "Millennial"
I've had a few discussions with my friends as of late all about the fact that we're annoyed that the term "Gen Y" has been supplanted by "Millennial" to describe a generation that technically could have started around the time we were born. Presumably you already know of many of the generation terms -- Golden Generation, Lost Generation, Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennial. For a while there we also had Gen Y but now apparently we don't.
To get into the weeds about this for a second: the generations aren't really well defined brackets of people. You can't sit there and say "this generation goes exactly from this year to this year" because the end-points are kind of fluid. So Gen X begins sometime between 1960 and 1965 and then ends between 1980 and 1985. For someone born in that vague, five-year end point, it's annoying to me to not know what generation I belong to.
For me, I know I'm not Gen X. Gen Xers grew up before computers were commonplace. I have sisters that are older than I am and there wasn't a computer in the house until some had already moved out. While most Gen Xers can use computers, for many they're still something weird, a device you know you should have yet they still don't always feel essential.
By contrast Millennials not only grew up with computers but most of them also had the internet for as long as they could remember. Being able to sit and go "I wonder what this is" and then look it up online has become a casual thing for so many people, but it's so ingrained to Millennials that many can't even imagine a time before it was a thing. (I assume we'll have a similar discussions about tablets and phones and always-on presences online for the next generation, still called just Gen Z, in a few years). These two groups, Gen X and Millennials, are very different just because of how they group up and what their expectations of technology should be (not to mention all the other social and political changes between the two generations as well).
Yet, for a small group of us, we had computers but not the internet. We became comfortable with the technology but didn't immediately take to online as if it was a second life (some pun intended). For a number of us the internet is something great to use as a tool, but it's not our whole lives.
So how do you define us? We're definitely not Gen X but I would argue we're also not Millennials (although I also hate the fact that Millennial is a term that used to be used for Gen Z a while back and has been reapplied to Gen Y, but that's a different issue). We a small group of a few years that really make up our own quasi-generation.
Why does this matter? Well, if, as I suspect, this five- or ten-year group really is its own generation (which I still choose to call Gen Y), we're going to have different opinions on topics from either Gen X or Millennials. Sometimes opinion polls group people by their generations, and if they don't take into account a true Gen Y, results could be skewed. No one knows how this group might vote on its own, what we're looking for, where our opinions lie in this slice of humanity because we're lumped one way or the other. It does matter, it's not just a matter of semantics.
That said, I wonder if other generations went through this as well. Was there a small group before Baby Boomers but after the Greatest Generation that were all "hey, that TV thing is cool but I still remember WWII" and their opinions were different from the other groups? Hmmm...