War of the Generations: How Each Generation Has Developed Their Differences

Adam French, Lifestyle Editor

Generational differences have ignited many arguments in situations in which multiple generations have to work together. Why does this hap ? Many factors play into the distinct political views, work habits, and overall lifestyle of each generation. The major factors are the political environment in which the generation comes of age idealistically (or the late teenage years), the demographics of each generation, and major shifts in the social climate that happen during adolescence. The late teenage years become a pivotal time politically for each generation because these are the years where big-picture opinions become fully formed. This foundation causes political and social views to stay stagnant as one ages, and this stagnation in ideals probably causes many of the vehement disagreements between generations.

So what exactly are the differences in the Silent Generation (Born 1925-45), Baby Boomers (1946- 1962), Generation X (1963-1980), and Millennials (1981-2002)? For one, they consist of different racial proportions. The percentage of whites has decreased consistently from the Silent Generation (83%) to the Millennials (59%) per the Pew Research Center. Hispanics have made the most progress against the white paradigm that shapes America (increased 14% from the Silents to the Millennials, more than any other race). This increase in diversity can be attributed to the loosened regulations on immigration that our country has trended to for the past couple decades. Another area where different generations have disconnect with each other lies in the atmosphere in the workplace as well as overall work ethic. What many older generations perceive as “laziness” by Millennials is actually the work-life balance that has become a much more coveted aspect in the job market. Where a Boomer or a member of the Silent generation might adhere to the “live to work” philosophy, the Millennials and some of Generation X are more drawn to the “work to live” lifestyle. Another difference in the workplace between generations is the level of collaboration. Older Generations tend to prefer more isolated working conditions, and will not easily share sensitive information. Younger generations succeed in a more collaborative atmosphere, and want all information to be shared freely so everyone has as much data as possible from which to base their decisions. The group-based conditions that many workplaces are trending towards most likely stems from the ascendance of global interconnectedness and the sense of support, and the ability to contact others in a moments notice that many Millennials flourish in.

Political changes between generations are a little bit more tricky to ascertain. This is because the overall political mood of a certain age group depends on the success of the president in office while they become politically mature. For instance, the people that were 18 during the presidency of FDR (A very successful democrat who maneuvered america out of the great depression) turned out to vote overwhelmingly democrat, while the 18 year olds under Ronald Reagan/Bush’s presidency (beloved republicans) trended more towards the GOP in their voting. This suggests that the time period in which one grows up doesn’t affect their political affiliation as much as the success and partisanship of the president in office when they politically come of age.

With all these differences, how do we get along with (and respect, of course) our elders? The answer lies in perspective. Each generation, when confronted with an idea from a different generation that they view as wrong, should realize that the environment that cultivated the other person is completely different from the one they were growing up in. Doing this can help explain a conflict in opinion. If we can all step back and observe the differences in generations, the best way to blend all the priorities and values together in a manageable situation can be determined.