“And their music, it’s just noise!”

World O’ Words: Juvenoia, and the ongoing generation trust gap

Shortly before this lockdown business stopped all the wars of words between us (except on Facebook), a new word came into the lexicon which summed up much of the current state of affairs.

Juvenoia is a term coined by American sociologist David Finkelhor way back in 2010. At that time, the word described the exaggerated fear of the effects of social change on youth. This was right at the advent of the smart phone. So in only a couple of years, that exaggerated fear applied to the effects of the new technologies on youth, particularly the effects of staring at a screen for all one’s waking hours.

And a couple of years after that, as the age of Trump got underway, the word, or the feelings it represents, became part of the culture wars. Juvenoia has also come to be defined as the fear one generation holds towards the younger generations succeeding them. Or, rather, the disdain one generation holds towards the younger.

You see it all over Facebook, where all intelligent, thoughtful discourse happens — the Trolls versus the Snowflakes, trotting out insults with no real basis in logic. “Snowflake Millennials,” they will sneer, referring to members of “Generation Y.” Finding everything offensive.”

“Okay, Boomer,” the Gen Y’ers will respond, words dripping with contempt.

Thus, Juvenoia has taken on a nasty semantic, fitting for our times.

Though Juvenoia is a new word, the sentiment is age-old. It would be natural, one supposes, for one generation to distrust another, for the older generation to look down on the younger for its comparative lack of experience, for the advantages the older generation did not have access to — or indeed created for that younger generation — and for the younger generation to show disregard and disrespect for the older generation’s touchstones. And it would be natural for a younger generation to reject the traditions and experiences of an older generation as being outworn and irrelevant to the younger generation.

However, the trust gap between the generations, as they call it, is seen to be widening. This is according to a Ipsos Mori poll from 2013, so you can bet that gap is even wider now. Makes one think of that other great period of Juvenoia, the 1960s — where “the Generation Gap” and “Never Trust Anyone Over 30” came into parlance. That particular generational impasse was between the Baby Boomers and their parents, the so-called “Greatest Generation” (see below).

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, as they say.

Who are all these generations, with all their gaps in trust and understanding? Let’s list them:

• The Lost Generation, born between 1883 and 1900, who fought in the First World War and partied hard during the 1920s. The writer Gertrude Stein coined this term.

• The Greatest Generation, mentioned above, born between 1900-1924, who fought in the Second World War. Journalist Tom Brokaw coined this term.

• The Silent Generation, born between 1925 and 1948. This generation is comparatively small, because of the financial insecurities of the 1930s and the war, which led people to have fewer children.

• The famous Baby Boomers (“Me Generation,” or “Boomers”), born between 1946 to 1964*, a large influential demographic who gave us that great decade of the 1960s.

• Generation X (or “GenX”), born between 1964 and 1985.

• Generation Y, or the Millennials, or GenY, born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s to early 2000s. According to this loose time range, as of 2019 there are now more Millennials than Baby Boomers in the world.

• Generation Z, or GenZ, born in the mid-1990s, with 2012 as the generally accepted cutoff.

• Generation Alpha, those born after 2012, in whom I am placing my trust to save us all from ourselves.

* As to the Baby Boomer definition, I myself technically fall in that category. However, those of us born between 1960 and 1964 generally reject the definition of Baby Boomer for ourselves. There is a specific term for us, a sub-generation known as “Generation Jones.” We members of Generation Jones got neither the advantages and power of the Baby Boomers before us nor the technical savvy and cool factor of Generation X after us. We are the greatest aficianados of the music of the 1970s, and we have nothing but love and respect for all generations before or after us. So Peace Out, everybody.

With information from the Christian Science Monitor, Wikipedia and urbandictionary.com

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