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The Greatest Generation & Boomers to Millennials & Gen Z

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DerekC

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There is a modern tendency to categorise and give everything labels and then to emphasise difference, and the fact that this is being applied to generations worries me. Calling the WWII generation "the greatest" sounds OK, but how would the WWI generation have felt about that? And they weren't all great! I am "boomer" - which is now more or less a term of insult and implies a sort of fat cat existence. And we have "Gen Z" - and "Millennials". Gen Z now appear to be calling their parents "boomers" even though they were born in the 1970s! It all worries me. Everyone who is lucky enough to grow old goes through the same kind of experience of life, even though the historical and technological background changes enormously. It seems bad to me that people think that the date of your birth determines what sort of person you are - it's a kind of prejudice, and one that I don't think we should accept!

Do others agree, or am I just getting old and grumpy?
 
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birchesgreen

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I thought Gen Z were born from 1980, Gen X is 1970s (of which I am one).

Its all pointless labelling anyway, marketing probably has it's dark hands behind this somewhere.
 

RichT54

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Surely there is much more variation and inequality within these arbitrary groupings rather than between them, due to financial inheritance, gender, ethnicity, disability and class.
 

Gloster

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It seems bad to me that people think that the date of your birth determines what sort of person you are - it's a kind of prejudice, and one that I don't think we should accept!
As @birchesgreen has said above, it is not so much what or who you are, but what they can sell you. We are all being constantly marked down so that they can refine their choices as to what to sell us, whether we like it or not. Making us think we are of a particular group means that will be more likely to feel we must take what they suggest in order to comply with the natural wish to conform with our peers. (It may not be surprising to read that I am at heart an anarchist, albeit a law abiding one. I tend to follow Marx’s words, “Whatever it is, I’m against it.” N.B. That is Groucho in Horse Feathers.)
 

DarloRich

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It seems bad to me that people think that the date of your birth determines what sort of person you are - it's a kind of prejudice, and one that I don't think we should accept!

is it unfair? I am not sure. You may be against pulling up the ladder. Many of your peers are not. Oh and by the way I AM Jealous of your final salary pensions, your early retirement, your house for 2 groats, your not having 15k student debt etc etc etc.

EDIT - I better add: CLEARLY that is aimed at the demographic "Boomer" rather than the OP. I dont know anything about him or her.
 
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ainsworth74

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I thought Gen Z were born from 1980, Gen X is 1970s (of which I am one)

Speaking broadly (because that's all you can really do when labelling groups like this) you'd be looking at the following definitions:

Baby Boomer = 1946 through to the early/mid-60s
Generation X = Mid/late-60s through to late 70s or early 80s
Millennial = Early 80s through to late 90s
Generation Z = Early 00s onwards

There is some talk of their being 'Generation Alpha' for the early 2010s onwards but I don't think that's reached even a little bit of popular traction yet in the same way as the other labels have probably because any members of this 'Generation Alpha' are, by definition, not even out of primary school yet!

I think splitting people up into generational 'cohorts' is something which has some utility but it also over-egged. You can probably divine some general trends amongst people born in those ranges which can then be used to inform decisions you may make (either as a marketeer or a government) accordingly. But I do think sometimes we get far to focused on assuming that everyone within a certain group must have characteristic x because that's something that's associated with people of their cohort. Equally they can be misused for instance there's a rather common complaint of people amongst the Millennial set (though perhaps more so amongst Americans than other as I'm picking this up from Reddit) that the term 'Millennial' is used both in a derogatory fashion and also to refer to 'young people' when in reality the oldest Millennials are now entering their 40s! Those complaints would be more accurately directed against Generation Z as they're what might be more classically described as 'young people' these days.

But certainly there are arguments that some generations have enjoyed benefits and opportunities that no longer exist or are much harder to come by. @DarloRich has, in their usual inimitable style ( ;) ) on a few of them such as final salary pensions (though by no means all, my mum doesn't have one for instance) or free university tuition (though of course far fewer Baby Boomers had the opportunity to go to University than those in following generations) as things which, in general, Baby Boomers enjoyed or at least had the opportunity to enjoy.

I suspect that housing is possible the biggest one here and I do feel that the evidence is increasingly overwhelming that if you're a Millennial or Generation Z the odds are that you either won't be able to afford a house of your own at all or, if you do, it will either require the "Bank of Mum and Dad", inheritance or will be much later in life. The ONS did an interesting piece of research on this the full thing is here but their key findings are below:

2. Main points​

  • Almost three-quarters of people aged 65 years and over in England own their home outright.
  • Younger people are less likely to own their own home than in the past and more likely to be renting. Half of people in their mid-30s to mid-40s had a mortgage in 2017, compared with two-thirds 20 years earlier.
  • People in their mid-30s to mid-40s are three times more likely to rent than 20 years ago. A third of this age group were renting from a private landlord in 2017, compared with fewer than 1 in 10 in 1997.
  • If this trend persists into their older ages, in the future, older people will be more likely to be living in the private rental sector than today.
  • Changes in housing tenure patterns could have implications for what life will be like for older people in the future.

Not a pretty picture in my view and I suspect why the Tory Party have suddenly gotten interested in trying to get young people to buy homes as if they can manage that it will help win over some young people to vote for them (just as there is an argument that "Right to Buy" was more about making Tory voters out of Labour supporters than it was an altruistic imperative).

To pick a target closer to home (sorry ;)) but social security is another area where a great many Baby Boomers (and those older than them as well) are likely to enjoy far more support than their younger compatriots. For instance at the same time as the State Pension has been 'triple locked' at the greatest of the average increase in earnings, inflation as measured by CPI or 2.5%. Meanwhile most working age benefits were frozen between 2016 and 2020 and even before then saw increases of 1%. That's quite apart from things like work age people no longer being able to get 100% reductions on their Council Tax or being subject to the Bedroom Tax in social housing (what remains of it). Now yes many Baby Boomer are not yet at State Pension age and have seen their pension ages increase but they're unlikely to see it raise much further, if at all, whilst for the rest of us it seems safe to assume that either we won't get one at all or we should expect that it's value will be eroded by the time we get there or it will be older than it is now (my pension age is 68 I fully expect it to be at least 70 by the time I get there!).

Of course I think that blindly blaming Baby Boomers for being selfish and then pulling the ladder up under them is a wrongheaded as it is to suggest that Millennials are all self-entitled layabouts who need to work harder like we did when we were young. The reality is, rather like Brexit in my view, that the 'enemy' isn't some other third party (Baby Boomers or another generation in this case, the EU in the case of Brexit) and very much either a failure of Government policy or even deliberate Government policy over a period of many years who have now created situations in which people find grievance with those who are either older or younger than them. You can of course blame older people for voting for policies which hurt the young and young people for not voting so political parties ignore their needs. But still I feel like the real 'enemy' (if such a term is right) isn't older generation or younger generations but very much to look at the people who set policy either on a Government basis or who are in charge of the companies and financial intuitions who have left us in the position where things like 'gold plated' pensions are now 'unaffordable'.
 

Domh245

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I think it goes without saying that there are differences within each generation* depending on all manner of other socio-economic factors, and that the cut-offs are far from arbitrary (being born in 1997, am I millennial or Gen Z - I could quite easily fit into either group), but these classifications do have some merit in terms of general generational outcomes and experiences.

*I don't even like avocado, let alone avocado toast for example
 

RT4038

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But certainly there are arguments that some generations have enjoyed benefits and opportunities that no longer exist or are much harder to come by. @DarloRich has, in their usual inimitable style ( ;) ) on a few of them such as final salary pensions (though by no means all, my mum doesn't have one for instance) or free university tuition (though of course far fewer Baby Boomers had the opportunity to go to University than those in following generations) as things which, in general, Baby Boomers enjoyed or at least had the opportunity to enjoy.
The demise of final salary pension schemes has been largely caused by the increase in life expectancy and its relationship with the number of years being worked. When I started work, at 17, life expectancy was around 3 years after retirement. Many final salary pension schemes have been closed before Baby Boomers have retired. It is hardly some fault of the Baby Boomers that life expectancy has increased to such an extent, except in so far as they may have contributed to the medical science that has enabled this. The steps that have been taken to avoid a future pension funding collapse, like some gigantic ponzi scheme, have inevitably resulted in the future payouts being reduced. The alternatives of large increases in contributions would probably not be well received by voters.

You are right that far fewer Baby Boomers had the opportunity to go to University than those in future generations. When I left school, about 5% went on to University. Nowadays that is more likely to be 50%. Possibly we could afford to pay the tuition fees of 5%? Which would people prefer? Was it fair that this 5% were funded to University and that gave them a passport to well paid jobs both here and abroad? Depends on your view. Of course 50% to University (tuition fees paid or not) has so diluted the better opportunities that the young are disappointed that their opportunity is so much less than in an earlier era
To pick a target closer to home (sorry ;)) but social security is another area where a great many Baby Boomers (and those older than them as well) are likely to enjoy far more support than their younger compatriots. For instance at the same time as the State Pension has been 'triple locked' at the greatest of the average increase in earnings, inflation as measured by CPI or 2.5%. Meanwhile most working age benefits were frozen between 2016 and 2020 and even before then saw increases of 1%. That's quite apart from things like work age people no longer being able to get 100% reductions on their Council Tax or being subject to the Bedroom Tax in social housing (what remains of it). Now yes many Baby Boomer are not yet at State Pension age and have seen their pension ages increase but they're unlikely to see it raise much further, if at all, whilst for the rest of us it seems safe to assume that either we won't get one at all or we should expect that it's value will be eroded by the time we get there or it will be older than it is now (my pension age is 68 I fully expect it to be at least 70 by the time I get there!).
Yes there has been a clear policy of late to reduce the over generous Social Security of the 1970s, to reduce the numbers of people making living on Social Security their lifestyle choice. People will have different views on the fairness of this.
I am not sure that it is safe to assume that 'we' won't get a State Pension at all. Definitely the age of receiving one is going to increase, but with 50% of people not going out to work until at least 21, and the life expectancy increasing to 82 or something, this is only to be expected, unless the younger generations can work out how to fund it. Much higher birthrate, or seriously increased contributions, or higher taxable productivity.

Of course I think that blindly blaming Baby Boomers for being selfish and then pulling the ladder up under them is a wrongheaded as it is to suggest that Millennials are all self-entitled layabouts who need to work harder like we did when we were young. The reality is, rather like Brexit in my view, that the 'enemy' isn't some other third party (Baby Boomers or another generation in this case, the EU in the case of Brexit) and very much either a failure of Government policy or even deliberate Government policy over a period of many years who have now created situations in which people find grievance with those who are either older or younger than them. You can of course blame older people for voting for policies which hurt the young and young people for not voting so political parties ignore their needs. But still I feel like the real 'enemy' (if such a term is right) isn't older generation or younger generations but very much to look at the people who set policy either on a Government basis or who are in charge of the companies and financial intuitions who have left us in the position where things like 'gold plated' pensions are now 'unaffordable'.

It is always easy to blame the politicians for not taking unpopular decisions at the time and doing themselves out of their jobs, but there is a serious problem of increased life expectancy and how to fund it. Nobody wants a reduction in current lifestyle, to fund their old age. Not Baby Boomers, Not Generation X, Y, Millennials etc. The derision of having to work 2 years longer (even though work has probably started 4 years later), in spite of life being 16 years longer.

I do not know what to do about the issue of house prices. Policies enacted with good intentions , have had unintended adverse side effects and, once the genie has been let out the bottle, is very difficult to put back again without shafting some part of the younger generation. Lots of posters on here have expressed their dissatisfaction, but no-one has suggested any kind of solution.
 

Mag_seven

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Lets not forget that minority groups (BAME, LGBT etc) have a much easier time growing up now than people from such groups in the boomer generation. Society is more tolerant now (I know its not all sweetness and light by any means but you get my drift) and things like equal opportunities, same sex marriage etc are available to todays younger generations more than they were to boomers when they were young.
 

LSWR Cavalier

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Perhaps groups could be identified by the greatest event in their lives, privately, historically, economically
Many including I were influenced by WW2, or rather by media depictions of it, despite being born long after it finished, for others the Thatcher years, or the referendum 2016, maybe corona for some (not clear yet)

1989 was the defining year for me, historically ('the end of history') and privately
 

najaB

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Its all pointless labelling anyway, marketing probably has it's dark hands behind this somewhere.
While the marketing types help perpetuate it, there is a definite difference in life outlook and attitude between people born in say the 1960s/70s compared to those born in the 80s and 90s. For example. the millennials who I interact with seem genuinely puzzled by the idea of working for one company for decades, they are used to and expect to change job every two to three years.
 

43021HST

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All this generational stuff is complete nonsense. Most generations are broadly similar, the only thing that changes are your cultural references.

Generational conflicts have been around for as long as youth culture itself, this can be observed with the backlash against 50s Rock n Roll, The hippie and counter culture movements of the 60s and their infamous slogan of "Don't trust anyone over 30", the punks of the 70s, a good zeitgiest of this is Bill Grundy interviewing the S*x Pistols, the fears of skinheads and football hooliganism in the 80s and 90s rave culture.

The Headmasters office scene in Kes comes to mind where he admonishes kids who are now older than my Dad, using the same lazy descriptors still employed by the tabloids about the youth of today, nothing changes.
 
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Busaholic

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is it unfair? I am not sure. You may be against pulling up the ladder. Many of your peers are not. Oh and by the way I AM Jealous of your final salary pensions, your early retirement, your house for 2 groats, your not having 15k student debt etc etc etc.

EDIT - I better add: CLEARLY that is aimed at the demographic "Boomer" rather than the OP. I dont know anything about him or her.
Are you jealous of me not being able to go to primary school until I was six, as class sizes were limited to fifty in my part of London (that was because you literally could not get any more small desks and chairs into the classroom, even though the desks were placed right up against each other, with so little between rows that the person sitting behind you could make your life misery by pinching you incessantly throughout the day) or,perhaps, the nascent NHS which left my beloved older brother in a cottage hospital without an overnight doctor following his tonsil operation, a student nurse in charge, and allowed him to bleed to death, or, maybe, the rationing system which restricted meat, bread, petrol (enough for 90 miles per month when re-introduced in 1948 ), sweets and chocolate to one small bar per week, and led this person to a lifelong issue with its consumption? There again, in 1969, a few days after my 21st birthday, when I became an adult and could vote, the ability to take off for an adventure in Europe with the maximum amount of cash permitted i.e. £50 in foreign currency plus £10 in Sterling due to the Exchange Control Act 1967, with a final page in British passports in which the amounts were recorded, and that was before things like Interrail passes existed, so you had to sleep in the open or try to find casual work by reporting to an Amsterdam dockyard at 6 a.m., for instance, with only a one in three chance of being selected? Oh, and I got my state pension at the age of 65, being my only pension, but I'm never allowed to get the benefit of the newer pension regulations of, to me, an extra c £100 per month, so an initial £600 per month eight years ago still hasn't reached £700, which is amongst the lowest in the Western world. Yes,University education was free, for the comparatively few who went there, and houses were cheap, but an increase of £500 in the cost of a new-build that was to be our first home, a long way from London where we worked, meant we could no longer afford it! I'm not complaining about any of this, but I do take exception to one-sided, often ill-informed commentary suggesting a land of milk and honey that my generation plundered for our own selfish benefit. By the way, I cannot bear car boot sales or charity shops: when your school uniform and toys were bought secondhand from jumble sales, and others knew it, it has led to a lifelong aversion.

EDIT - as with your post, I'm not aiming a personal attack on you particularly. I'm sure you're a very nice person to know: I've read enough of your posts to know you're not a follower of the dreadful and dangerous Alt Right movement that has infected so much of social media.
 

birchesgreen

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The Headmasters office scene in Kes comes to mind where he admonishes kids who are now older than my Dad, using the same lazy descriptors still employed by the tabloids about the youth of today, nothing changes.
It goes back a lot further than that, there are Ancient Greek texts bemoaning the youth of the day
 

najaB

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It goes back a lot further than that, there are Ancient Greek texts bemoaning the youth of the day
If you're talking about the quote variously ascribed to Pliny the Elder or Socrates:
'The children now love luxury; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are tyrants, not servants of the households. They no longer rise when their elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize over their teachers.'
It's generally agreed that he (whichever you prefer) never said it. But you're correct, every generation thinks that things were better when they were younger - it's the perfection of nostalgia.
 

43021HST

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If you're talking about the quote variously ascribed to Pliny the Elder or Socrates:

It's generally agreed that he (whichever you prefer) never said it. But you're correct, every generation thinks that things were better when they were younger - it's the perfection of nostalgia.
Cheers for the Pliny/Socrates quote, I hadn't heard that before, and here I was thinking that generational conflict was more of a cultural by-product of the industrial revolution.
What with the 'annihilation of time and space' giving the appearence that one short period of time is vastly different from the next.
 

birchesgreen

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If you're talking about the quote variously ascribed to Pliny the Elder or Socrates:

It's generally agreed that he (whichever you prefer) never said it. But you're correct, every generation thinks that things were better when they were younger - it's the perfection of nostalgia.
There are other texts which mention this kind of thing in the classical period, the Romans were often criticising the decadent younger generations and comparing them to the elders and their virtues. Anyway its not new. There is probably a Sumerian clay tablet lying under the sands of Iraq which disses the youth of the day...
 

alex397

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I’m in my late 20s, and people of my age are already criticising the current youth generation, which I find quite bizarre.
 

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The reality is that kids today have some things better than kids of previous generations, but it's equally true that some other things are worse for them.

Whether a particular generation had it better or not is too subjective to apply to an entire generation as it will vary on the individual.

Also societal changes don't suddenly occur to a cohort born after a particular date (and especially not at the turn of a decade as this would split people up who are in the same year group!) and some changes will be experienced by some before others depending on circumstance.

... Gen Z now appear to be calling their parents "boomers" even though they were born in the 1970s!....
The labels are ridiculous but I think a lot of kids are familiar with the term "boomer" but don't know what the term "boomer" means, or where it came from; they probably think it means someone who is over the age of, perhaps 50. I also think a lot of kids had not heard of this term, or at least didn't use it, until the phrase "OK boomer" became popular which was only quite recently.
 
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All this generational stuff is complete nonsense. Most generations are broadly similar, the only thing that changes are your cultural references.

Generational conflicts have been around for as long as youth culture itself, this can be observed with the backlash against 50s Rock n Roll, The hippie and counter culture movements of the 60s and their infamous slogan of "Don't trust anyone over 30", the punks of the 70s, a good zeitgiest of this is Bill Grundy interviewing the S*x Pistols, the fears of skinheads and football hooliganism in the 80s and 90s rave culture.

The Headmasters office scene in Kes comes to mind where he admonishes kids who are now older than my Dad, using the same lazy descriptors still employed by the tabloids about the youth of today, nothing changes.
Watched that clip on YouTube before, this movie was made in 1969, when schools had corporal punishments. That became illegal in 1990.

The writer for Kes also wrote Threads in 1984 which is a nuclear war drama. It was on shown on BBC only twice and it is extremely graphic.
 

yorkie

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The Headmasters office scene in Kes comes to mind where he admonishes kids who are now older than my Dad, using the same lazy descriptors still employed by the tabloids about the youth of today, nothing changes.

Watched that clip on YouTube before, this movie was made in 1969, when schools had corporal punishments. That became illegal in 1990.

The writer for Kes also wrote Threads in 1984 which is a nuclear war drama. It was on shown on BBC only twice and it is extremely graphic.
I'd not seen that before. There is a longer clip of it here. The little lad who took the blame was born in 1956 which would make him about 65 now.

The ban on corporal establishment in British state schools appears to have been 1986, rather than 1990.
 

Cowley

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I'd not seen that before. There is a longer clip of it here. The little lad who took the blame was born in 1956 which would make him about 65 now.

The ban on corporal establishment in British state schools appears to have been 1986, rather than 1990.
I think you’re right with 1986. We just managed to miss out on it yet the years above us had occasionally received it (I started high school in 1985).
That said our teachers weren’t afraid of giving us a bit of localised rough justice as they saw fit through middle school in the early 80s...
 

Horizon22

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Every generation by the time they are 30-40 thinks the younger generation are corrupted, work-shy, don't have good morals and have terrible culture so I guess nothing changes!

That being said there is growing evidence that millenials are one of the first generations to be economically worse-off than their parents - rising house prices, a change to employment practices and more expensive education have had a lot to do with this.
 

RT4038

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That being said there is growing evidence that millenials are one of the first generations to be economically worse-off than their parents - rising house prices, a change to employment practices and more expensive education have had a lot to do with this.
As has sharply rising actual life expectancy, without a concomitant rise in work life expectancy to pay for it!
 

hst43102

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I'm probably opening a can of worms here but I must say to all those who are saying that the "young people" of today are lazy, selfish and entitled - it's unfortunately true. I was born in 2001 which would make me Gen Z? and I must say that social media has made this one a terrible generation to be in!
 

roversfan2001

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I'm probably opening a can of worms here but I must say to all those who are saying that the "young people" of today are lazy, selfish and entitled - it's unfortunately true.
As someone else born in 2001, I must say that that is utter fiction.
 

Mcr Warrior

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Its all pointless labelling anyway, marketing probably has it's dark hands behind this somewhere.
Inclined to agree. Stereo-typing and general pigeon-holing.

From the "profession" that brought you such other nauseating demographic acronyms as YUPPIES, MUPPIES, DINKs and HENRYs. (If you need to ask, don't, it's really not worth the bother!)
 

hst43102

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As someone else born in 2001, I must say that that is utter fiction.
To each his own, I guess? Maybe I'd say the same about any other generation if I was born at a different time, but I can't see a lot of the people I know of my age going very far in life. Way too much time spent on social media or gaming, and getting offended by everything. Of course that's a generalisation, but that's what I've seen so far.
 

DarloRich

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To each his own, I guess? Maybe I'd say the same about any other generation if I was born at a different time, but I can't see a lot of the people I know of my age going very far in life. Way too much time spent on social media or gaming, and getting offended by everything. Of course that's a generalisation, but that's what I've seen so far.


goodness me- this is rot.
 

roversfan2001

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The 'offended by everything' tag is a myth, ironically perpetuated mostly by boomers who get offended over near enough every progressive change society has.
 
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