Gen Zed? Climate Crusaders? Jury still out on generational name for young cohort

By Jonah Grignon

Gen Zed? Climate Crusaders? Jury still out on generational name for young cohort
Tisza Pal, at a climate strike last year.

Of all the memes and jokes that ran their courses in 2019, one is still very much proving its relevance: The succinct “OK Boomer” put-down.

Although the passive humour it provided may have been quickly killed by corporate entities and middle-aged politicians, “OK Boomer’s” cultural impact remains, inciting ongoing internet feuds, and leading to what Maclean’s magazine has called a “corrosive generational blame game.”

And with the safety of older generations being called into question as the country prepares for re-opening in the wake of COVID-19, the generational drama is far from over.

Funny, how after years of  blaming (“you’ll just have to work harder, like I did”) being thrown at those born after 1990, it takes a two-word internet joke directed at Baby Boomers to create a “toxic conflict wherein both sides share equal blame,” according to Maclean’s, but that’s neither here nor there. Among the frustration however, this conflict has raised certain questions about the younger generations.

As someone born between 1995 and 2015, I fall into the still-emerging, yet-to-be-named new generation, I’ve been left with only one thing on my mind: What should I be called?

In the wake of this generational tussle, it seems common for anyone above the age of 40 to be classified as a ‘Boomer’ and any under the age of 35 as a Millennial.

This of course, is not the case.

The generation known as the Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1965, following the Second World War. They would be followed by Generation X, born 1965-1981. After this came the infamous Millennials, arriving from 1981-1996, earlier than most believe. And then… there’s us.

My generation has been hard to pin down, notably because nobody is really sure what to call us. As I mentioned, past gens have derived titles from various sources: generational milestones, books, significant dates.

So far, we’ve only been offered a handful of options: The first, most popular option is Generation Zed, continuing the Gen X lineage, directly following Generation Y, a less-used term for Millennials.

Next is ‘Zoomers,’ a problematic title that seems like a response to ‘Boomer’ becoming an insult. Last would be iGen, most offensive in my opinion. Where others have had their titles derived from historically significant events, such as the rebuilding of families after the Second World War or the turn of the millennium, or in one case a work of literature (Douglas Copeland’s Generation X), we got the titular equivalent of “You kids are on your phone machines too much.”

So, the question is: What can my generation do to establish an identity that is not derived from following another generation or a narrow-minded view of our obsession with technology? To me, it all comes down to what we as a group can recognize as a unifying factor for everyone our age.

Living in such a pivotal time as we do, what can we see as the common denominator of our age group? What has marked this generation as significant?

Considering that our era started with 9/11 and went on to cover the 2008 financial crisis and the rise of Donald Trump in the US, I would vote we avoid the “significant events” route. Personally, I’ve always believed that this generation is united by a common, unifying evil: climate change.

Teens and young adults across the globe are coming together to place pressure on governments to take action against the degradation of the earth’s environment, which we will eventually be left to live in.

So, what do we go with? Climate Crusaders? Greenhouse Generation? Ozoners? Well, if there’s one thing this crisis has given us, it’s passion.

Perhaps even excessive anger. But in this case, burning passion may just be exactly what we need, to make the world a better place for modern and future generations. We’re the burning generation. Burning internally, with a drive for justice, and externally… well, with fire.

‘Cause the whole world is, you know, kind of ablaze at the moment. And we’ll keep on burning until the flame has been extinguished, not out of abandonment or neglect, but because we’ll have no more need for it.

OK, Boomer?

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