All of us will guide next generations

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I’m an X, I work with Ys and all that really matters are the Zs.

We are living at the end of the alphabet these days, and those letters define many of us more than we would like to admit.

No definitive explanation exists for why the labels that now define the three youngest living generations seem to alphabetically come to end. Nor does anyone know what a generation of unborn babies may one day be called. Generation A, maybe?

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But it all started with the troublemakers from my era — Generation X.

We were born between the years of 1965 and 1981, and the origins of our generational name — though it was first used years before our birth — refer to a group of young people without a clear identity who face an uncertain future.

At the time Gen X was labeled, we were the earth’s youngest.

Gen X was the first set of video-game babies with divorced parents and a lot of angst.

We still have angst today — ask my younger, happier co-workers about me — but we have found our direction now and are by-and-large productive employees in the workplace.

Things aren’t so cut and dry for the next generation down — Gen Y.

Also called the Millennials, this group is too young to really have found their footing.

Coddled in childhood, they are grasping now to find themselves outside of mom’s protective nest. They are job-hopping, socializing and delaying life as much as possible.

But they aren’t the babies. That’s Generation Z — those under age 18 today.

No one knows much about this generation yet, except that they are totally dependent on technology and likely smarter than you or I ever will be.

So why do X, Y and Z matter?

Most of you — based purely on numbers — are probably baby boomers. A few more of you represent either the Silent Generation or the Greatest Generation.

Your generations — the three oldest on earth — have laid the framework for X, Y and Z.

And soon — after the last of the boomers empty out that nest — the only remaining task on the generational to-do list for all of you is to sit back and complain about all of us youngsters.

But your complaints must acknowledge that X, Y and Z are not the end — despite the names — but really the beginning of a new era.

In another 40 to 80 years, X, Y and Z will become the oldest generations, the generations that set the tone for the next century on earth.

Maybe your to-do list is nearly done, but realize your should-do list is just beginning.

You see, boomers, silents and greatests, we — X, Y and Z — still need you. We need to learn your lessons, hear your stories and share your experiences.

You’ve been awesome, and we’ve just begun. It’s together that we’ll ensure greatness for 80 years to come.

Every generation is crucial to the next, and everyone living today is — in a way — a part of one giant generation.

Read more about “Generation Us” in Profile 2012, our annual special section that highlights the community’s stories. The section will publish next Sunday, Feb. 26, inside your copy of The Natchez Democrat.


Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or