Why do I think we have it worse than the other generations?

I brushed over this question early on, but I think it deserves a better answer than I gave it.  On some level I do believe that.  Not, as I have said earlier, in any sort of woe is me way, but because what study on generations has been done points in that direction.  Plus someone sent me this MSN article that summarizes some of our troubles.

In about 1998, I read Generations by Strauss and Howe.  It seemed to make sense, and though it’s been criticized, they sort of predicted all the terrible stuff that’s gone down recently.  You can get a general idea of what they say from the Wikipedia page, but the basic theory is that there are four types of generations that continually repeat in a predictable pattern.  Ours is the one that always gets the shaft: at each point in our lifecycle, we are at the exact worst point to be.  And I suppose I’m writing this blog on the assumption that their theory is correct.  I’ll get into specific details like the stock market and the housing collapse in later posts.

Now even if this model is correct, there are some basic assumptions inherent within it: like Western Civilization continuing indefinitely.  That certainly looks less likely than, say, when Ronald Reagan was running for reelection.  But if we take this generational theory seriously, maybe the best recent comparison is how Americans felt in the months leading up to D day.  A few years later, Americans were celebrating the young men who got us through that time.  And it seems like we are on a precipice now, but if history repeats itself some new era will be coming in the next few years, something that the youth will get credit for.  And as this time comes about, our generation will be represented by someone like Dwight Eisenhower, who might not get the credit for what he does until the turbulent times that follow afterwards.

I don’t mind that at all.  It’s better than the alternative.  The alternative is that this really is the end, and that our entire civilization is on the brink of destruction.  If that is the case, we are almost certainly going to be the oldest generation that experiences it.  I’d rather do all the work and have someone else get the credit than to have that happen.

And there is one other possibility, though it seems less likely now.  The only time a generation got skipped was during the Civil War.  Go read the book for more on that, though they don’t really have that good of an explanation either.

If you don’t like this theory, come back tomorrow and I’ll see what I can do to tear it apart.


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