May 20, 2015

Generational splits in being assertive, passive, or just plain awkward

Those who have spent much time interacting with Millennials have noticed how withdrawn they are. The average member won't initiate anything, whether social (getting to know new people) or mechanical (that bamboo is starting to look gnarly in the back yard, better clear it out).

This has lead casual observers to describe the generation as passive, but that term really means that the person will pitch in and perform various tasks once someone else — the initiator or instigator — has gotten the ball rolling first. They are willing, perhaps even eager to join in an activity — they just can't start it.

Yet Millennials are not only incapable of kicking something off, they fumble the ball once it has been perfectly thrown to them. Beyond being anxious about introducing themselves to new people, they don't know how to respond to someone else introducing themselves first, let alone how to keep the back-and-forth going so that the result is a relationship rather than a mere encounter.

They don't know how to act, but they don't know how to react either. They're just plain awkward, and it keeps them from developing a normal system of relationships.

"Passive" would actually be a better description of the average Gen X-er. As long as there's an instigator around, X-ers are perfectly comfortable joining in the mischief. Or accepting a subordinate role in a hierarchy, under a leader, mentor, or guide. Do you want to go bowling? "If you guys are going, sure." Where do you want to go tonight? "I dunno, I'm cool with whatever." Yeah, me too.

It normally doesn't devolve into the blind leading the blind because despite the majority tendency, there's always at least one leader or instigator in their social circle.

That leaves the Boomers as the assertive ones. There's a lot more playful, half-serious ribbing and joshing among them because they're all trying to assert themselves and have the others in the group be subordinate. They're more willing to be creators, while Gen X prefers to be fans.

You see this clearly in stereotypes about husbands. The stereotypical Boomer husband was cheating on his wife with a secretary or waitress, endangering his marriage to assert his libido. Gen X husbands are more likely than Boomers to see their role as the dopey dad and the henpecked husband, whether they resent that role or are cool with it, y'know, as long as the wife is cool with it.

The stereotypical Millennial husband is neither an assertive nor a passive partner in the marriage. Millennial husbands and wives are more like gender-non-specific housemates who occasionally have genderless sex. None of the household tasks get taken care of because neither is capable of being the leader or the follower in getting them done. Maybe if we both ignore the bamboo jungle in the back yard, it will be nice and just go away to infest some other home.

What underlies these differences seems to be how much of their social development, say ages 5 to 25, took place in an outgoing (1955-1990) vs. a cocooning period (since 1990). Boomers, particularly the later ones, developed entirely within an outgoing climate, which allowed them to reach an adult level of assertiveness.

Gen X developed partly during an outgoing climate, but also during a cocooning climate in early adulthood or even adolescence. That allowed them to mature beyond childish awkwardness, although still retaining more of an adolescent approach of "I'm up for it if you are". That effect is more pronounced among the later births in the generation.

The poor Millennials who grew up entirely in cocooning times, under helicopter parents no less, never even made it to the adolescent stage. Now that they're nearing 30, they realize that they're supposed to be able to take part in the back-and-forth, following either an assertive or passive role, and some of them are making a conscious effort to practice. But at a gut level, their instinct is still to just stand there and go, "OK, so now I guess we, uh.... well, this is awkward..."

45 comments:

  1. Some Millennial5/21/15, 7:33 AM

    Kind of a lame example, but I've run the same Dungeons and Dragons adventure for two different groups of people: (1) a group of my 36+ coworkers, and (2) a group of 26 year old acquaintances from high school. If you're unfamiliar, think of it as a choose-your-own adventure book where the outcome is determined by a group rather than one reader. As you may imagine, there's serious potential for an activity like that to go socially awry if no one makes decisions, or if they can't agree on what to do.

    And that's exactly what happened with the Millennial group; they spent the vast majority of their time bickering over small details of their character's personalities, which is beside the point of the game. Individual player would occasionally monologue, heedless of whether anyone cared or that they were wasting others' play time. The group was crippled by indecision and seemed to actively avoid engaging the plot. When they did engage anything, they would rely entirely on violence to solve the story's conflicts. They avoided diplomatic solutions even to fictional problems. After extreme prodding in my role as judge of the game, they completed the adventure after two get-togethers, for a total of 8 hours of play. All of them had played the game many times before.

    The Gen-X group required no special prodding to move the story along, and none of them had ever played the game. They needed all the rules explained to them from scratch. They completed the adventure in a single night after 3 hours of play. This group was far more conscientious of the other players' time, and occasionally noted that their game characters would go ahead try a course of action, rather than needlessly discuss it further. No one "took the spotlight" too much; they seemed to go out of their way to ensure everyone had an equal share of "screen time" in the story.

    I'm left to wonder what a Boomer group would look like.

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  2. What you say about the Boomers being more jocular is spot-on from what I've seen. I also agree that Gen X appears more passive, but helpful, moreso the later cohort like you mentioned.

    Strauss and Howe claimed off-handedly that miltiary brass considered Gen-Xers to be the best soldiers, which fits in with Gen-Xers being obedient and diligent. The retro Gen X equivalent, the G.I. Generation(including the Flaming Youth), showed those same qualities in WW II - especially the late Greatest Generation born in the early 20s. The late Gen Xers fought much of the early War on Terror. (as a sidenote, Gen-Xers were stereotyped as pursuing graduate degrees, which is more evidence that they are more institutionalized and obedient).

    That being said, is the Gen X personality really the result of social stunting? Seems like it serves a purpose, as the G.I Generation was called upon to do important things their elders couldn't. In this case, it might not be social stunting, but something more like a different hormonal profile that kicks in to compensate for a more aggressive older generation. You need some people who are less rambunctious.

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  3. "Some Millenial", Dungeons and Dragons did seem like more of a Gen X phenomenon. It was "face to face", and does seem to have taken a lot of work and creativity. And it also took a lot of nerve to do something like that back in the 70s and 80s - nowadays computer and roleplaying games are mainstream.

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  4. "Strauss and Howe claimed off-handedly that miltiary brass considered Gen-Xers to be the best soldiers"

    We see that the Boomers fought a different type of war in Vietnam than the one the GI Generation fought in WWII, with rampant disorganization, a broken chain of command, drug use, atrocities, etc.

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  5. Lots of blanket statements in this post, more than usual. It reads like a horoscope, where anyone could find bits of characteristics they relate to from any of your descriptions. Do you interact with couples from multiple generations? I do, and apart from certain gender roles (household chores, mainly), I see no overall patterns. Some Boomer couples fit your description here, some don't, and some Gen X and Millennial couples fit the Boomer description as well. Same goes for the rest.

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  6. Where would you place people born in 1979-1980? Gen X or Millenial? I've called it "Generation XY" (due to Millenials being named Generation Y for a while) but your thoughts on where they fall?

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  7. "It reads like a horoscope, where anyone could find bits of characteristics they relate to from any of your descriptions."

    Are you a woman or a gay? Honest question -- you're taking a statement about group averages and making it 100% personal.

    White people at times feel impulsive and violent, and have even acted on it. Black people sometimes feel like solving problems politely and diplomatically. But still, blacks are more violent and impulsive than whites.

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  8. "Where would you place people born in 1979-1980? ... I've called it "Generation XY" (due to Millenials being named Generation Y for a while)"

    They're late Gen X. You can slice groups up into sub-sub-sub-generations for better accuracy, but then you miss all the big-picture stuff.

    The idea is to form groups that are big enough for generalizations to be worth making (no point in "generalizing" about five people), but not so big that the group loses coherence and generalizations fail.

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  9. "I also agree that Gen X appears more passive, but helpful, moreso the later cohort like you mentioned. ...That being said, is the Gen X personality really the result of social stunting? Seems like it serves a purpose"

    It does seem like a stunting, although not so severe that they are child-like. It can be put to good use, as they'll be better team players, better "helpers at the nest," and so on.

    But it does constrain their ability to form socially mature relationships. They prefer staying in the adolescent / young adult world, where they're part of a social circle of peers -- highly similar in age, and half or more of them willing to date new people (or currently not attached at all).

    It's not that X-ers haven't paired off and/or had children, although they delayed family formation pretty late. The biological imperative is too strong for that not to happen.

    But when you look at the rest of their social lives, they aren't very involved with their parents or aunts/uncles, they don't know or interact with old or elderly people in the broader neighborhood and community (at most, in a formal office setting). And at the other end, they don't know any of the other kids in the area, don't host them at their own kids' sleepovers, don't have them hanging around throughout the school week or on the weekends.

    All their friends and acquaintances are the same age, and they prefer young-adult activities to share, like hanging out at a bar, taking Outfit of the Day selfies while out shopping, and piling into the man-cave to play retro video games.

    So, even the X-ers who have started families are remaining as socially young-adult as possible, on average. In a way, it's like an adolescent peer clique where most of the members were involved in a teenage pregnancy. It's striking how most X-ers are raising their kids as though they were serving as the older brother/sister who's babysitting (albeit for a very long time), frantically winging it, and getting stressed out from the clash between their young-adult orientation and the grown-up demands.

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  10. Gen X parents as adolescent older-sibling babysitters:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hW6xkoFiHX4

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PqPugdTvCM

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  11. "All their friends and acquaintances are the same age, and they prefer young-adult activities to share, like hanging out at a bar, taking Outfit of the Day selfies while out shopping, and piling into the man-cave to play retro video games."

    And how much has this rubbed off onto their kids? Not that Millennials needed much of a "bad" influence to make them dorky anyway. If you saw Sandlot, do you remember the scene where the dad tells his Boomer son to go outside, make some friends, maybe even get into trouble, but not too much trouble? Course, this was the 60's when people were starting to get out more often and parents were beginning to get more comfortable with the idea of having lives distinct from their kids. And distinct from kiddie/adolescent entertainment.

    Thank god my Boomer parents were too busy working, socializing, and partying to insist on "quality" (read: helicopter) time with the kids. My Boomer mom and her Boomer friends were having a get together out in the sticks one time where they lived and us kids (who ranged from about 9-14 in age) ended up partying with them. The youngest one actually drove a Ford Explorer through the back fields while the tipsy parents cheered him on.

    When I/my brother would go to our dad's place for weekend visitation, in the warmer months he'd throw lunch money at us and leave for work around 10 in the morning. And then we often wouldn't see him until about 9 at night.

    Lots of "what were they thinking" parenting moments involving bikes, four wheelers, fireworks, trampolines, and so on.

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  12. "But when you look at the rest of their social lives, they aren't very involved with their parents or aunts/uncles, they don't know or interact with old or elderly people in the broader neighborhood and community (at most, in a formal office setting). And at the other end, they don't know any of the other kids in the area, don't host them at their own kids' sleepovers, don't have them hanging around throughout the school week or on the weekends."

    My parents had a open door policy for the most part in terms of how they related to me and my brother's friends regardless of where we lived or what age we were. And in the neighborhood I grew up in the 80's/early 90's, it was basically a free for all in terms of most parents accepting frequent visits/sleepovers with local kids.

    Some would put down the drastic decline in neighborliness to greater ethnic or perhaps economic diversity, but it does sound like the main factor is the generational traits of parents.

    X-er parents are so nervous about everything that they just can't be as amiable and carefree about kids (or really, people in general) experiencing a wide variety of unstructured places and situations. Nope, we've gotta stick to a basic and played out path. Cuz there's too many thorns and poison ivy lurking in the wild.

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  13. Rings true to what I get from the media where the Millennials tend to not really be easy to engage or lead and not themselves engaging or leading, while Gen X are more easily led, but tend to fall into apathy without leaders, while Boomers all want to lead and so tend to be engaged, but rather isolated in some ways due to a lack of ability to accept true peers.

    I wonder if this is why Gen X has a minority trend where people in that generation profess to hate "sheep"? If there's lots of examples all around them, and a kind of self loathing thing. Probably why corporates might quite like them as employees, despite the perspective of them as world weary cynics - they basically do as they're told in the end, don't have that distance where they go off message and go "Um... uh... you... have fun with that? I'm not really feeling it".

    Re: back and forths, I can see why that might fit with the Millennial text message style of communication, which is naturally going to be a bit more slow paced and deliberate (I'm not really too keen on that as I like context and facial features and more cues).

    Somewhat true for me on the borderline of "passive" to "awkward".

    On the other hand, not true for any of my younger Millennial coworkers in their early twenties, who are all pretty much actually, literally monotone vocal fryers (lots of emo in the grammar and vocab, not much emo in the tone), but are also seem really socially engaging and engaged. They still have that slightly bratty fragile optimism thing more than I have. I don't really get that vibe that much from the groups of kids and folks in their early twenties I see wandering around the shopping centre opposite my work every day either. They don't really seem awkward in a way where they're ever going "Uh...." mentally or verbally.

    I don't have much experience with younger Millennials who live on their own and household chores - only my little sister who is either hardcore into washing and cleaning everything in her flat (sometimes I think she has mild OCD), or she's out spending days at a time hanging around with her mates and going out to gigs and events so doesn't bother to do anything. The younger Millennial girls at work tend to have tidy and neat desks.

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  14. Team players aren't sheep, that's just the misanthropic minority of X-ers groping for an excuse not to have to join a social group.

    "Ugh, sheeple," meaning "Ugh, relationships" :returns to MMORPG where he does the exact same thing as everyone else in the nerd hive:

    Back-and-forth doesn't take place between the shepherd and his flock, unless he's herding cats. Gen X passivity is more like the "response" role of a "call and response" performance. It takes two to tango, not just one dragging the other around like a rag doll.

    "not true for any of my younger Millennial coworkers in their early twenties, who...also seem really socially engaging and engaged."

    Then again what was your cohort like in their early 20s? That would have been around 2005 to 2008 -- that was a much more outgoing and wild time compared to now. Not coincidentally coinciding with a major '80s revival.

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  15. "2005 to 2008"

    I;ve always maintained it was more from 2001-2005, calming down by 2006, but it may have varied depending on where you were in the country.

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  16. Another part of most of the generation wanting somebody else to start things up, and then going along with it, is that it produces more instigators. There's this strongly felt need, in a group setting, that *someone* has to get the ball rolling, and only then will the rest pile on.

    Boomers aren't afraid of speaking their mind or acting provocatively, but it's usually just to steal the spotlight or to get a rise out of people. The instigator is trying to provoke the audience, but more like stirring up a mob and being on their side. There's a pro-social goal, albeit half-anarchic.

    It's like being the objector in one of those Solomon Asch conformity experiments. If everyone else gives a wacko response, you're likely to parrot their wacko response. You're asked which of two lines is longer, and everyone says the short line is longer, and you go along even though you can tell the long line is longer. However, if there's just one other person who says the right thing, it shatters the conformity effect, and you'll always say the right thing too. The Emperor's New Clothes effect.

    You ever notice how the top trolls are almost all Gen X? It's not like Boomers don't know how to use the internet, and in any case they could have been trolling using any pre-internet medium in the pre-internet age. George Carlin wasn't trying to work up a mob, or say out loud that the emperor is wearing no clothes. His act was more ego-driven.

    Reagan was good at trolling, though -- "I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born." Too bad the local news didn't animate a pair of sunglasses dropping onto a freeze frame of Ronnie. Of course he was a Greatest Gen member, like both of my grandparents who were / are inveterate instigators (well into old age).

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  17. cocooning probably contributes to lack of initiative in other ways. lack of experience means that the younger generation have a much smaller knowledge base. even if they had the will to set off on a new venture, there aren't opportunities to learn how to do it. or, lack of experience means that their identity is too ill-formed to formulate desires. passivity can be caused by ignorance.

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  18. "lack of experience means that the younger generation have a much smaller knowledge base. even if they had the will to set off on a new venture, there aren't opportunities to learn how to do it. or, lack of experience means that their identity is too ill-formed to formulate desires. passivity can be caused by ignorance."

    As cocooning lifts we'll see how late Gen X-ers do when they return to the greater activity of their youth. It will be even more interesting to see how Millennials do given that only a minority of early Millennials can even remember a more outgoing period.

    Remember that the 60's and 70's were the heyday of late Silents/Early Boomers (those born from about '40-'55) hitchhiking and in the process, sometimes getting robbed, raped, or worse. I think that a combination of reckless bravado and a relatively safe childhood/early adolescence leads to lots of dumb risk taking. So perhaps late Millennials/early Home Generation(?) born from about 2000-2015 will be the next cohort to heavily inhabit shallow graves when the next crime boom takes off circa the mid 2020's.

    Note that earlier Millennials are just about as naive as later Millennials. The difference in their life outcomes is predicated on the fact that earlier Millennials will be relatively old/wise by the 2020's while very young later Millennials/those from the following gen. will still be young and stupid when danger grows in the 2020's.

    It's analogous to earlier Silent gen. douchebags like John McCain ('36) having the good fortune to be in or nearly in their 30's when danger soared in the late 60's. Had he been born just 5 years later he would've been more likely to do bad drugs, accept a ride a from a whacko or have some other kind of youthful misadventure in the later 60's/70's bedlam.

    The Silent Gen. has really been let off the hook for their "contributions" to the 60's/70's unraveling.

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  19. "But when you look at the rest of their social lives, they aren't very involved with their parents or aunts/uncles, they don't know or interact with old or elderly people in the broader neighborhood and community (at most, in a formal office setting). And at the other end, they don't know any of the other kids in the area, don't host them at their own kids' sleepovers, don't have them hanging around throughout the school week or on the weekends."

    What are you basing these assertions on? Personal experience? Gen X characters in movies? As a Gen X parent for 22 years, your description here is utterly foreign to me and most parents my age that I interact with.

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  20. Personal experience through family (ranging from the earliest X-ers to borderline Millennials like my brother), friends (closer to me, late X-ers), parents around the neighborhood wherever I've lived.

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  21. OK, then going by our apparently different experiences with Gen X parents, it's pretty obvious that blanket statements don't carry much water.

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  22. "George Carlin wasn't trying to work up a mob, or say out loud that the emperor is wearing no clothes. His act was more ego-driven."

    I've been thinking the last few days about how virtually all prominent/talented Gen X people were born in the mid-late 60's with a few early 70's stragglers. I wiki'd all the Gen X comedians I could think of and none were born in the 70's.

    Are 70's births really so withdrawn that they just don't have much of a connection with other people? Particulary in things that demand an intimate connection with the audience (like being a rock front man or a comedian). Maybe the last great rock front man to be born was Pantera's Phil Anselmo (in '68).

    Others: Layne Staley ('67)
    Gwen Stefani ('69)
    I seem to remember you bring up Lisa Loeb in terms of sincere artists. She's from '68.

    Maybe 70's/early 80's Gen X-ers had their opportunities to learn how to develop charisma cut short by the 90's.

    And yeah, I know that there are some later X-er celebs. But how many of them can resonate as well as Boomers or early X-ers? Maybe we also could blame declining testosterone levels, given how a lack of male hormones makes you a kill joy. Who wants to spend time with soft man children and petulant chicks?

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  23. "OK, then going by our apparently different experiences with Gen X parents, it's pretty obvious that blanket statements don't carry much water."

    It means you live in an unusual environment (upper middle class, Midwestern, or something like that).

    The disconnect between parents and neighborhood children is easily and unambiguously seen on Halloween, where kids don't go trick-or-treating anymore, and where the adults buy candy for themselves, figuring no one will show up (they're right).

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  24. "Are 70's births really so withdrawn that they just don't have much of a connection with other people? Particulary in things that demand an intimate connection with the audience (like being a rock front man or a comedian)."

    Passive / reactive isn't withdrawn -- that's the awkward Millennials. It just means not inclined to get the ball rolling first, but waiting for someone else to start it and then pile on.

    Performing before an audience is not intimate. You said "charismatic" later, which is closer to what's going on. Look at how Obama could work a crowd -- but he's painfully awkward in a one-to-one setting.

    Lots of performers are like that -- shy models, seemingly tongue-tied comics like real-life Seinfeld. Michael Hutchence from INXS was incredibly charismatic, but almost shy in the interviews / behind the scenes that I've seen.

    There are plenty of instigator / performers born in the '70s, they just don't pursue the ego-driven paths of lead singer, stand-up comic, etc. They're the trolls on Twitter mocking the SJWs, or Ken M pushing the buttons of high-strung and thin-skinned internet people.

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  25. Perhaps a clearer term is "latent extravert" or "dormant extravert" to describe what I've been calling passive or reactive people like typical Gen X-ers.

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  26. "OK, then going by our apparently different experiences with Gen X parents, it's pretty obvious that blanket statements don't carry much water."

    I see this bad behavior on blogs everywhere - where some commenter comes in and gets offended that somebody is generalizing at all about any group.

    Who goes to the trouble of writing these stupid comments? Is this a Jew thing?

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  27. "I see this bad behavior on blogs everywhere - where some commenter comes in and gets offended that somebody is generalizing at all about any group.

    Who goes to the trouble of writing these stupid comments? Is this a Jew thing?"

    It's autistics and hardcore liberals (but I repeat myself) who get uppity about labeling groups of people, since, after all, if enough white gentiles believe that a group of people is innately different we're gonna have the (pick one) the 50's, the Jim Crow South, or even the holocaust all over again.

    We're supposed to accept that since the possiblility exists that a Jew, an Asian, A Mexican, etc. does not fit the "stereotype" then we should refuse to assign a set of characteristics (and judgements of those characteristics) to a given ethnic group.

    It doesn't matter that 999/1000 Asians are taciturn; we mustn't consider them taciturn.

    It doesn't matter that 99/100 Jews are fanatical leftists consistently hostile towards traditional gentile culture; we can't hold them to account for this and we can't suggest that gentiles are stronger without them.

    It doesn't matter that 99/100 Mexicans have no civic values; we can't point out that areas overrun by Mexicans become culturally/socially/physically desolate.

    There's also the tendency of swpl/striver/young & stupid S.J. Warriors to go on anti-stereotype crusades so as to gain status points. Some of the most outlandish claims (blacks are not more violent, trannys aren't crazy) aren't really sincerely believed by a lot of these people.

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  28. On the topic of generational differences in temperament, you would not be able to see this sort of behavior in a modern convenience store: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYbe-35_BaA

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  29. I dunno. Is it really bad for the GenXers to be somewhat less assertive? The Boomers are a generation of cholerics, and the result was decades of status-striving and exploitation of the younger generation. Rather than being stunted, Gen X just represented a different way to approach life.

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  30. "The disconnect between parents and neighborhood children is easily and unambiguously seen on Halloween, where kids don't go trick-or-treating anymore, and where the adults buy candy for themselves, figuring no one will show up (they're right)."

    I've been a parent in various neighborhoods (working and middle class) in commie pinko Bay Area and the Sacramento area, and in 22 years, we've never had a non-busy Halloween, even in the apartment complex we lived at in 1997-98. In our current town, we lived in the older downtown neighborhood at first, lots of Hispanic and working class families. TONS of kids out on Halloween. We now live in a fairly affluent neighborhood, with probably even more kids out in costume. Where do you live that you don't see kids in costume out on Halloween night? An urban area maybe? I have to say I haven't lived in a city as a parent, so I can't speak to that. But in all the suburbs and exburbs I've been a parent in, with all types of demographics, I've yet to see empty streets.

    I know that malls and merchants in downtown areas, including ours, sponsor "safe" Halloween nights. I've always found those offensive, but they are well attended, which is fine. But I haven't seen those impact neighborhood trick or treating. There are probably more parents walking with their kids then in the 70s and 80s, but that peters off when kids reach middle school. We've let our kids head out with friend unattended when they reach 6th grade.

    Again, this is my personal experience, but I don't live in a bubble, I'm not rich and have been a parent in many types of neighborhoods. Is it your personal experience that "kids don't go trick-or-treating anymore"? Have you actually manned the front door during a recent Halloween and no kids rang the doorbell?

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  31. "Is it your personal experience that "kids don't go trick-or-treating anymore"? Have you actually manned the front door during a recent Halloween and no kids rang the doorbell?"

    Yes, and it's been in several different places (East Coast, Mountain states), as well as asking my friends and family if I was the only one -- I wasn't (they included even more regions). I usually comment on the trend on Halloween, with the usual "update" that hardly anyone showed, followed by more or less the same story from readers.

    I noticed it already in the mid-to-late '90s, when I was too old to go myself and figured I'd man the door instead. Hardly any kids went out compared to the '80s, and those who did go out were always accompanied by parents.

    By now you're lucky if there are a handful of teenagers who show up -- way too old to count as trick-or-treaters in any case.

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  32. ". Is it really bad for the GenXers to be somewhat less assertive? The Boomers are a generation of cholerics, and the result was decades of status-striving and exploitation of the younger generation."

    Let's not forget that equally choleric (but melancholy) Silents are nearly as responsible as Boomers for the mess we're in. Maybe it's the small number of Silents, maybe it's being relatively low key, maybe it's how annoying Boomer are. For whatever the reason, people born from about 1926-1940 are just not held to account for their misdeeds.

    There was a huge spike in serial killer births around 1930, which finally began to level off around 1960. Late 20's and early 60's births are somewhat better adjusted but not as empathetic as those born before 1925 and after 1965.

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  33. I'd never really thought about classifying generations by the humors but I think it's a good idea.

    Greatest Gen: phlegmatic and sanguine (The best combo? Brave, selfless, unpretentious, and very likeable)

    Silent Gen: choleric and melancholy (possibly the worst combo, selfish/mean as well aloof and dour. This sort of gen. arguably produces a lot of tough guys, too bad that a lot of them become thugs. Read any sort of crime history of the 50's-70's. There's tons of Silent sociopaths.)

    Boomers: choleric and sanguine (Terrific performers and artists. Fun to be around when things are going well but miserable when things take a turn for the worse. Unpredictable and adventurous for good or for ill, note how frequently Boomers change their religion, occupation, and political affilation, always hoping to find utopia. They sure like to create and experiment but they don't like cleaning up messes, even their own.)

    Gen X: phlegmatic and melancholy (Not much to say, caring but cynical, reasonable, cautious. Easy to trust and respect, but can be hard to read and a bit standoffish).

    Millennials: phlegmatic and sanguine. Yes, I know, some will quibble about giving them the same traits as the Greatest Gen. Keep in mind that the Greatest Gen was much whiter and had the good fortune to reach adolescence or young adulthood during a time of increasing fairness and civic mindedness (the 1920's and 1930's). So they get a lot of credit for the good faith and equity of the 20's-50's.

    On the other hand, Millennials have spent their whole lives in a highly corrupt period (the 80's - 2010's). Idealistic sanguine gens seem to get (unfairly at times) blamed for the nasty stuff of the era they live in, like how brash Boomers have been raked over the coals while Silents prowl around like the cat burglars they are. The Greatest gen had the good fortune to be teens and adults when equality rose from 1920-1970 and crime fell from 1935-1955. So they often are regarded as a peerless group whose beautiful world was tarnished by idiots born in the 40's and 50's. The Greatest Gen gets too much credit while Silents don't get enough blame.

    Homeland Gen.?: On track to be choleric and melancholy. We'll get a better idea of the traits of 2000's births in the years ahead. If the ones born around say, 2005 are noticeably more cynical and callous, then we can agree that the last Millennials were born in the early 2000's. Who knows? When things shake up in the 2020's, perhaps a lot the worst psychos will be in their very late teens and early 20s. If so, then we can safely say that Millennials were born from about 1982-2000. Millennials have too much of a conscience to be good criminals, choleric gens. make much better thugs.

    It seems that two consecutive generations are choleric or phlegmatic before the next two switches, while there is consistent alternating between being either melancholy or sanguine.

    It stands to reason that two consecutive choleric gens will exploit the next two phlegmatic gens. Unfortunately, the level of exploitation is reaching historically bad levels because modern tech and medicine is enabling 30's and 40's births to live absurdly long lives. In previous eras, such reckless cohorts would've died much faster.

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  34. I've been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. Typically the speakers are born somewhere between 1965-1985. The ones born around 1983 seem to be noticeably more excitable and upbeat. I'm beginning to think that Strauss and Howe were right about when Millennials started ('82 by their account). Though I'd still question '61-'64 people being called X-ers. Early 60's people strike as being too upbeat, too naive, and too self-centered, not at all like the voices of the modest and cautious '65-'81 people I hear on podcasts.

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  35. There are other factors too, like what level of psychological maturity. So, as "Face to Face" explains, you can say that people are being childlike, adolescent, young adult, or mature.

    Yet, once again, you can't explain cocooning by saying that people are childlike. The hippies were childlike also, but more like healthy, active children. The problem with cocooning generations is not that they are children but are dysfunctional children.

    i don't believe that the more phlegmatic or sanguine, go-along nature of Gen Xers is a bad thing if they are more healthy.

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  36. "The hippies were childlike also, but more like healthy, active children."

    That is quite debatable. Quite a few of them got really hurt by being young and naive in the anything goes climate that was "in" from about 1965-1979. The only real reason some of them cleaned up their act in the 80's was because they got older and slightly wiser. How do you suppose the Boomers got such a bad rap, anyway? Aloof Silents were for the most part too old and too mistrustful to be as reckless as the Boomers were in the 60's/70's. So Silents dodged a lot of the blame for the churning of society in the 60's. Be that as it may, the Silents were actually laying the groundwork for the cronyism, opportunism, and basic self absorption that have increasingly dominated the West since the mid 70's.

    This would not have been possible if the Greatest Gen had both modern medicine and the temperament to hold the fort. But the Greatest gen in the 70's and 80's stepped aside due to often fatal health problems, a desire to gracefully retire with one's dignity intact, and/or belief that the next gen ought to have the torch passed to them.

    Alas, this was to have horrific consequences as decades of uninterrupted rule by choleric type A generations means a constant survival of the most ruthless climate that grinds people of all kinds up.

    I'm not being hard on X-ers. Small numbers and the omnipotence of Silents/early Boomers equals being left in the cold, powerless to effect a shift in the cycle that would've occured years ago had modern medicine not extended longevity. The lax temperament of Gen X-ers of course doesn't help. Late Silents and Boomers were wishing their elders dead as they defiantly made it known that they knew better and deserved more. X-ers on the other hand, insist on being patient and giving a fair shake to everyone.

    It's like people born since the mid 60's have developed a taboo on being derisive towards their elders. How often do you hear the "respect your elders" nonsense from everybody? Respect for what, exactly? Breathing? Running up the debt to historic levels? Disdaining manual (i.e. honest) labor? Cowardly avoiding military service than starting shit with dozens of countries and ethnic groups? Flooding America with aliens? You've got 2 very prideful generations who refuse self-sacrifice being enabled by X-ers and Millennials who bend over backwards not to offend anyone.

    My Mom's oldest sister (born around '55) still reminisces about all the great stuff that happened in the 60's. There's virtually no respect accorded to the values and accomplishments of anyone born before 1930.

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  37. The good news is that the Homeland gen that began at some point in the 2000's and is being born right now won't take the same kind of shit that X-ers and Millennials have heroically endured for decades. They won't just say bye bye to the Me Gen, but they will actively instigate a changing of the guard.

    The bad news is that the Homeland Gen. will suffer from the same kinds of neuroses as the Silents. What can you say?

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  38. With regard to Silent arrogance and blundering-
    Ted Kennedy (a '32 birth) was no older than 33 when he led the charge for the '65 immigration bill, possibly the worst legislation in American history (with honorable mention towards laws which failed to stop the entry of slave blacks into America or failed to send them back to Africa). At least towards anyone who believes that America ought to be a country of people who honor and advance Western civilization.

    From Wikipedia:

    "He was a leader in pushing through the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended a quota system based upon national origin."

    "despite Kennedy's predictions, would have a profound effect on the demographic makeup of the United States.["

    Silent and Boomer morons like Kennedy did more to change America (usually for the worse) in early adulthood than Gen X-ers have done into middle age.

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  39. "The ones born around 1983 seem to be noticeably more excitable and upbeat."

    It's more like they have addictive personalities. The non-depressed ones come off as frenetic and spastic, and the depressed ones as joyless opiate chewers.

    JonTron and Pete Dorr are great examples of the two flavors that Millennial addictive personalities come in.

    (The only podcasts or YouTube series I keep in touch with are video game-related. I got bored with video games 15-20 years ago, but they're such a huge medium that I need to pay attention to them if I want to keep my finger on the pop cultural pulse.)

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  40. Part of what you're sensing about X-ers is that they can feel satiety, relief, catharsis, etc., rather than constantly chasing after one kind of rush or another due to feeling unsatisfied.

    That goes along with X-ers being more corporeal (negative feedback after some kind of peak, returns the body / senses to a baseline state), and Millennials being more mental, so to speak (the realm of thought having no such negative feedback leading to a refractory state and satiety).

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  41. Maybe X-ers get defensive about the whole angst thing and would rather have their introspection and caution be though of as just that, rather than undue worrying.

    I think it's a high or low activity/energy thing. We alternate from one to the other with each generation. But it's got little to do with integrity or value. Silents being more even keel doesn't change that fact they still fundamentally are self centered assholes. X-ers are similarly low activity but at least they've got a heart.

    Millennials may come off as pushy or spastic but they do generally mean well, even if they can be so obnoxious that you just want them to be go away. The bold Boomers, like I say, got a lot of shit from day one, but not always for the right reasons. And some of that blame should've gone to people born in the 30's and early 40's.

    I still think that the real terrors are being born right now. Millennials are easy to spook, headstrong Boomers on the other hand are stubborn about refusing to sit down and listen. The Homeland gen might be similar about wanting their way.

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  42. I do agree with you guys about how periods influence the character of a generation. But I think that's part of it rather than the only thing that matters.

    Basically, there's the inherent temperament/values of a generation and then there's the climate that a generation grows up. On second thought, I'm not so sure that the Homeland gen. will be as screwed up as Silents. Though the two generations have a similar temperament, the Silents grew up totally in a cocooning period while the Homeland generation will be the first generation since the Boomers to come of age partly or totally in a outgoing period.

    Perhaps Homelands won't be as pervy and psychopathic as Silents.

    It's possible that the coolest people are phlegmatic/sanguine generations who grow up in outgoing/rising equality periods. The Greatest Gen always came off as unpretentious, selfless, and happy.

    On the other hand, Boomers initially were a serious headache in the 60's and 70's since they chafed at elders who didn't want greater competitiveness and upheaval.

    After the Greatest Gen. faded away in the 80's, Boomers had a lot more fun since there was no one around to tell them to behave themselves. Perhaps Boomers are superficially more mature and more willing to take the bull by the horns partly due to growing up in an outgoing era, but I think they would be aggressive no matter what. They are passionate, confident, and self gratification oriented. I suppose these traits would be less pronounced and Boomers would be more petulant and kiddie if they had grown up in a less outgoing era. But Boomers would still be ass kickers to some degree.

    Meanwhile, stolid X-ers, even the ones born in the mid 60's (hence, they spent 2-2 1/2 decades in an outgoing period), were much less inclined to be in your face. Phlegmatic/Melancholy generations, even if they grew up in outgoing periods, still have some degree of humility and caution guiding their behavior.

    Agnostic is saying that X-ers have a sort of Zen like "coming down" from their activities. I dunno, I think sanguine generations like the Boomers and Millennials are apt to (mis?)read this state as undue self consciousness or woe is me slacking. It doesn't have to be one or the other; I think it depends on the X-er and the mood their in.

    I often get the impression that a lot of X-ers are nervous about being seen as too cocky, too conceited, too hyper, etc. They seem to be nervous about others (esp. generation mates) slapping them down for going too far. Just compare the vocal styles of late Boomers (shamelessly enthusiastic), to 60's X-ers (a tad more reserved but still energetic) to 70's X-ers (much more flat and often self aware sounding).

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  43. "(The only podcasts or YouTube series I keep in touch with are video game-related. I got bored with video games 15-20 years ago, but they're such a huge medium that I need to pay attention to them if I want to keep my finger on the pop cultural pulse.)"

    I've turned to podcasts since I can only listen to so much 80's music before I lament how shitty post 1992 culture is. I did used to listen to mainstream talk radio, but I (and a lot of other people) have gotten so tired of Boomers goofing off and preaching that I don't want to enable the mainstream media anymore.

    Back in the 90's, I thought that the middle aged people I saw on TV and heard on the radio would eventually be replaced by shiny new models who would be relevant to America's future. But nope, we're going to be stuck Groundhog Day style in Boomer land until we knock the bullhorn from their hands and choke them out.

    Do the Me Gen putzes running the media realize that Millennials and X-ers are finally calling their bluff? Outside of some cool movies and music, late Silents and Boomers have done nothing but crap where everyone eats over the last 50 years. Do they really believe that younger people would tolerate this indefinitely?

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  44. Millenials are also more choleric, but not as effective. they are amateur versions of the Boomers - want to rebel, but not experienced enough to do it.

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  45. "Millenials are also more choleric, but not as effective. they are amateur versions of the Boomers - want to rebel, but not experienced enough to do it."

    It depends on what you mean by rebel. Boomers and Silents hated the "dull" establishment, though Silents weren't as brash about it. Growing up in a period of high equality/prosperity and relative safety (the late Boomers, not so much), they acted defiantly snotty about the very things that made that prosperity possible. Now they've destroyed everything that the G.I. Gen. fought for. Some "rebellion" (by a bunch of over privileged fools).

    X-er's have understandably hated Boomer nostalgia and having to deal with a society wrecked by the Me Generation. Yet they've kept a wary distance, perhaps intellectually rebelling but basically sitting things out. They've just bided their time, perhaps naively, in no particular hurry to move things along.

    I think it's in the nature of human cultural cycles for a generation like the X-ers to think that eventually things would move along. Because in prior eras, things did transition on account of disease and infirmity doing the job for younger generations.

    As for Millennials being amatuer Boomers. Well, they do have a similar antsy-ness to do stuff. The benign difference is that Millennials are more empathetic and less interested in shooting first and asking questions later. I still believe that with the nature of modern tech/medicine, it is going to take a truly choleric generation to instigate change. Which will be late Millennials/the Homeland gen. that's born from about 2000-2020.

    Homelanders will be the first gen since the Silents to openly diss their elders. The good news is that unlike Silents/Boomers, they've got very good reasons to be pissed off. Also, unlike Silents they will reach or be in adolescence/young adulthood during an outgoing time period. Which ought to be good for socialization.

    It doesn't really make sense to single out Millennials for ineffectual rebellion when X-ers haven't done much either. Both gens have kept their composure for the most part as jobs got crappier, education became more of a racket, banks/insurance companies got skeezier, and so on.

    Boomers, on the other hand, got worked up over everything when they were young. And still do. To the detriment of innocent people, too, since Boomers don't know when to draw the line.

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