Good question, tough one for me to answer. Millennials are considered to be those born between 1981 and 1996, and Gen Zs are categorised as born between 1997 and 2012. Millennials would be the first generation to grow up in the era of the internet, and as a Millennial myself, I dare say the rise of the internet probably did shape me a fair bit, as I was growing up. I was born into the generation that would experience, as young people, the idea of the internet allowing the rapid sharing of ideas, and the means to stay connected to friends and family from anywhere. Gen Z would have felt the acceleration of this, alongside the rise of social media, home shopping, and smartphones.
There’s a theory that people became better educated in the 90s and 2000s, though on the basis of voting choices, I’d query that. There are arguments that Millennials read less than previous generations (personally, I read quite a bit, so I’d like to think I bucked a trend there), and Millennials and Gen Zs are credited with nostalgically bringing back things like vinyl records, as well as polaroid cameras (which, ironically, both generations are credited with helping to destroy).
None of this really answers the question. What would my grandparents make of these generations? Well, they were of what’s called the Greatest Generation. They were the generation shaped by the Great Depression, and World War II. Referring specifically to my dad’s parents (I never knew my grandparents on my mum’s side), they experienced hardships that I cannot fathom. My grandad fought in WWII, and my nan lived with the ever-present threat of Nazi bombs going off around her. Subsequent generations have experienced forms of challenge, but what they went through is very hard to imagine.
My dad once told me of a time when my grandparents desperately needed money. My grandad took a freshly boiled kettle, and poured boiling water down his own arm, to later claim the kettle was faulty. My generation, and Gen Zs, would perhaps consider something like that (though not necessarily as painful as that) out of sheer greed, and I know my grandad in particular would be disgusted by such behaviour. He was keenly opposed to injustice, and did not pay lip-service to the idea, unlike so many from subsequent generations. I imagine that’s a result of his life and experience. It is tempting to say he would see Millennials and Gen Zs as ‘soft’, but my grandad was not a judgemental man. I doubt he would want to see any future generations plunged into the sort of war he fought, just so they could prove something.
My nan was quite quiet, but very loving. Whilst she did not rush to embrace all the new tools and technology that my generation was exposed to, she made every effort to make sure my brother and I knew we were loved. She was gentle, caring, and truly the best of us. If she held any negative opinions of successor generations, she did not voice them. She was quietly very proud to be English, so I don’t know where she would stand on modern interpretations of patriotism, but I choose to believe she would understand that times change, and that people change.
That’s where I draw a line under this prompt. I can’t think of anything else to add, except to say that as always, I miss my nan and grandad, and will always love them.