Millennials: A Generation?

I got off track with my #500WordsEveryDay Challenge. On Monday, I went to Amsterdam with Jackie, and we returned Thursday evening (I’ll write a new travel post in a few days!), and after a whirlwind week, I hadn’t been able to post my response to each prompt. I am picking up today with the following prompt (Day 9):

Write a review—a review for writers—of your favorite recent blog post or article. What ideas draw you into the article? But, more than the ideas, what writing choices did the author make that made it so good? What tools of representation—words, jokes, descriptions, metaphors, hyperbole, informal voice, call to action, etc.—did the author use that you also might use someday?

This prompt sent me searching for a blog post that really got me thinking. Since I graduated, and I have been out of the classroom I am starting to miss the educational setting and especially really good class discussions. When I was looking through recent blog posts, I found an interesting one that I imagine would have fit nicely into the Sociology discussions I miss. Philip Cohen examines how a generation is defined in his recent blog post, “The word ‘generation’, I don’t think it means what you think it means”. He examines how recent news coverage and studies are categorizing Millennials as a generation, sharing characteristics and even reportedly outnumbering the Baby Boomer generation (from NPR, which just launched a new series about Millennials called the “New Boom”). Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion about the Millennial generation, and the characteristics we possess that are beginning to rule the world, and continue to do so for some time. Cohen talks about how the general population is a little misguided about what “generation” actually means. Baby Boomers is the generation when the birth rate grew the fastest in recorded American history, right after World War II, and didn’t return to the average rate until 1965. The years 1946-1965 are the birth years of Baby Boomers, simply because of these events. But Millennials don’t exactly have those start and end events as bookends. Oftentimes Millennials are defined as being born from 1980-2000, and most generations match the approximate 20 year period of the Baby Boomers. Cohen points out that we are starting to confuse cohorts (“a group of people sharing a common demographic experience”, in this case birth during the same period) with generations.

This article was an interesting read that helped to evaluate some recent media coverage. It was informative and backed by recent studies and graphics from reliable sources. While the post is a little condescending at some points, his point is well thought out. Cohen spent most of the article tearing down what our preconceived idea of a generation is and devoted the last section with evidence and studies that he believed properly defined a generation, like the example from the Pew Research Group. Cohen’s voice was informative, yet readable. What made his post relatable was the research and references he used in his writing. For me and my writing, research is essential to get your reader to get on board with what you are saying. While my writing is typically not as scientific, the background research still has to be present in my writing. For example, if I am writing about a forest, I should know exactly what trees are in that forest, their color, the location (would these trees really be in this forest?), the season (do they have leaves, or have they shed their leaves?), etc. Cohen’s post is a great example of a developed argument, supportive evidence, and relatable content. Hopefully, I can incorporate these elements into my writing!

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