Alphabetic generation-labeling is lazy, part-smart thinking. Demographics is a Thing, but it’s not a simple Thing. It’s not completely unreasonable to observe that a population bloc might be affected by the conditions under which they grew up, but it is unreasonable to assume that everyone in that cohort experienced the same conditions. (It’s all a matter of distribution, innit.) So an American cohort that came of age during the Depression and WW2 (as my parents did) were certainly marked by that experience–though had they been comfortably upper-middle-class rather than blue-collar, that would have complicated any easy characterization of them. (I had college classmates from upper-middle-class families who were not FDR-admiring Democrats but what I call National Review conservatives. In 1962.) And had they been African-American, a whole other bundle of experiences would have been added.
Oh–I’m not a boomer but a war baby. My sister, born in 1947, is exactly a first-batch baby-boomer. (Do the math: end of WW2 + demobilization + 9 months.) And our attitudes are very close, because we grew up in that post-war environment in which blue-collar families could achieve the kind of stability and even prosperity that was not possible for many Depression-years families. And those attitudes were largely conditioned by Depression-years attitudes toward thrift, work, government involvement, and social justice (1930s variety) rather than “prosperity and associated consumerism and deregulation.”
I have lived in the university world all my adult life, so I’ve been able to observe young people of several “generations,” which makes me skeptical of easy characterizations. I started teaching when my students–only a few years younger than I was–were doing both sensible and stupid things to protest the Vietnam war. I’ve watched waves of social-justice enthusiasm and dollar-obsessed careerism wash through the student population. (Remember the 1980s?) I have always cringed at the variations on “if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem” that seem to accompany (relatively) youthful idealism. Being “woke” is not a new thing.
And nearly halfway through my seventies, I’m just a bit tired of hearing about being part of the problem because of my membership in a demographic cohort (or a gender or race). No generation has a monopoly on being venal, selfish, stupid, or short-sighted.