Are You Gen X, a Millennial, or Gen Z?: Exploring the Generations

Posted: April 12, 2019 9:00:00 AM CDT

You hear the terms flying around. Maybe they were used in relation to avocado toast, Tide pods, or even Oregon Trail. I’m talkin’ ‘bout my generation (well, not MINE alone, I just couldn’t resist referencing the song by The Who).

I’m actually talking about generations X, Y, and Z, more commonly known as Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. According to the Pew Research Center, these three generations (and a few others) are broken down like so:

  • Silent - born 1928-45 (ages 74-91);
  • Boomers - born 1946-64 (ages 55-73),
  • Generation X - born 1965-80 (ages 39-54),
  • Millennials - born 1981-96 (ages 23-38),
  • Generation Z - born 1997-2012 (ages 7-22*).*No chronological endpoint has been set for this group.

 

I (Trisha) have been interested in these generational divides, and the fact that the media encourages (if not inspires) further discrepancies between the behavior of one generation over another. I find myself wondering if understanding these differences (and similarities) can serve a bigger purpose (bigger than learning that Millennials are killing the diamond industry…because apparently, we are).

Naturally, I started my research where most “hmm” research begins, I Googled it. I was finding “What generation are you” quizzes left and right, so I decided for today's exploration (because that is pretty much what this is...and what all research really is), I was going to grab representatives from these three generations and test out a few of the quizzes.

Joining me and representing Gen X is Jennifer Anderson, Department Head of User Engagement and Assessment, I (Trisha Hernandez) will represent Millennials, and our student assistant Emma will represent Gen Z.

All three of us took the following quizzes (feel free to join the fun and take them as well):

Which Living Generation Do You Actually Belong In? – Buzzfeed

Meet Generation C – Circles of Innovation: Valencia College

Which Generation Are You at Heart – USA Today

Below, you’ll find our results and some commentary on the quizzes themselves and the whole generational divide. Enjoy!

Which Living Generation Do You Actually Belong In? – Buzzfeedgenerationbuzzfeed.jpg

Jennifer/X: A solid Gen X for me. While I feel pretty comfortable with this, I was wondering about some of the questions...I’m curious about how my restaurant habits help make this distinction!

Trisha/Mill: My results show that I am in fact a “Millennial (aka Gen Y) born between 1981 and 1997.” Well done, Buzzfeed, well done. While I’m sure this quiz was “scientifically” created, I’m interested in what the quizzes found through an educational website would say. My favorite question from this quiz was, “Which of the following scenarios are you most scared of?” I read through and related to a few, then I got to “Dying in a plane crash or in a shooting.” Well…yeah being surrounded by strangers may trigger my anxiety but it will NEVER be worse than dying!! That seemed a little unbalanced…but who knows, maybe someone wouldn’t choose “dying.”

Emma/Z: This quiz is spot on. It says I am Generation Z (born between 1998 and 2010) which is correct. While this quiz included some stereotypes it also seemed to have some research or knowledge behind the questions and the answer choices. I have taken Buzzfeed quizzes before, so to be honest I didn’t think that there would be much science or facts behind the questions because they can tend to be a little random. However, I really thought that whoever made this quiz must have done at least a little research on the different generations because I have read articles with the same types of information or claims. I really enjoyed this quiz and found it fun to take. It was interesting to see what they thought was important in determining my generation. I never thought about the type of food I like to eat at a restaurant being a result of my generation. The “what are you most scared of” question was really interesting and made me think more than the others because to be honest all the choices scared me. But for me personally everyone hating me truly sounded horrible.

Meet Generation C – Circles of Innovation: Valencia College

generationc.pngJennifer/X: Nope, still Gen X here...I didn’t cross any boundaries (which doesn’t surprise me) The interface on this one makes me less interested in the results. The quality and preponderance of links and other distractions is a turn off.

Trisha/Mill: Apparently, I am not part of Generation C, but I am between a Millennial and Z…I wonder if it’s my social media habits that tipped me towards Gen Z. After taking this quiz, which I thought was going to be more heavily research based, I honestly liked the Buzzfeed quiz better. While the selections in the Buzzfeed quiz were generalized (potentially stereotypes) of the different generations, they seemed a little more (ironically) study based. I have read many articles that speak to a number of behaviors listed in the Buzzfeed quiz.

Emma/Z: This quiz was definitely interesting. There was an article that accompanied this quiz and spoke about Generation C, which is not an age demographic but a way of life focusing on connection, community, creation and curation (guiding principles for this particular university). I was interested to find out that I am a part of Generation C; though I was less surprised once I learned a little bit more about what that meant. These questions were focused on technology and social media, and asked things like “which phone do you use to communicate [with] others?” (I said smartphone but didn’t select “latest generation smartphone”), “What does social mean to you?” (I said that I spend quite a bit of time on Facebook and other social media sites), and “which of the following best describes your entertainment preferences?” (I answered that I prefer streamed or on-demand content from Netflix, Hulu, or some other provider). I think this quiz was accurate but didn’t seem all that research based. It was more of a “how much do you use the internet” quiz than a generation quiz. It was very fun and definitely made me think a little.

Which Generation Are You at Heart – USA Todaygenerationusa.png

Unfortunately, this quiz doesn’t include Gen Z, but we figured we’d test it out anyways since a popular news publication decided to create a generation quiz.

Jennifer/X: That’s interesting…”a general lack of trust in government and a John Hughes-esque malaise…” 14% Silent Generation, 34% Boomer, 36% Gen X and 16% Millennial. A little surprised that the Boomer number is so high, but wait...no, it’s not really surprising at all!

Trisha/Mill: These results keep me in the Millennial world but, whereas the previous quiz had me between Millennial and Z, this has me between X and Millennial (though the results primarily focused on Gen X). It reads, “You are 35% Gen X. Congratulations, you’re from Gen X! According to Pew, you’re between 34 and 49 with a general lack of trust in government and a John Hughes-esque malaise. You were originally pegged as slackers but are now considered responsible, family-oriented folks.” I’m going to say it’s because I picked Pretty in Pink for my Netflix movie. I also received 35% Millennial: “You were tweeting while taking this quiz”; 24% Silent Generation: “You know the value of a dollar” (I’m guessing this is because I chose Frank Sinatra); and 6% Boomer: “You’re ready to take on The Man on protest at a time.”  This quiz was created in 2014, so it’s not surprising that it doesn’t include Gen Z (they weren't a presence in the higher education/work world quite yet). Also, while this quiz had a few pitfalls, I found it interesting that it used percentages. Yes, there is the likelihood that you will lean towards one generation more than the other; but, according to this quiz, there is the possibility of some overlap.

Emma/Z: This quiz surprised me. It doesn't include Gen Z so I knew it wasn’t going to be 100% accurate but I assumed it would classify me as a Millennial since that is closest to me. However, this quiz said I am 45% Gen X “According to Pew, you’re between 34-49 with a general lack of trust in government…” My first major issue is it says I have a general lack of trust in the government but it never asked anything regarding politics or government; so, I guess this quiz is using the stereotype that all Gen Xers distrust the government which makes me question the validity of the entire question. There were only 8 questions to this quiz and I think only 2 of my answers would put me into this category those were “when you think of Clint Eastwood, you think….” and I said “king of westerns” because growing up my dad loved his movies. The second question was “Google Glass is” and I said goofy-looking, but come on?! I think that is something all generations can sort of agree with?! They look a little funny. All my other answers seemed like they would point to Millennial for example I said Beyonce tugs on my heart strings, my Netflix queue is more likely to contain Pretty in Pink, and Ellen Degeneres gives the best advice. This quiz also said I am 26% Millennial, 24% Boomer, and 5% Silent Generation. This quiz was interesting and fun but I don’t think it is that accurate or definitive because while I guess you can have different aspects of multiple generations technically you only belong to one, right?

Overall/Final Thoughts

generationcomplain.jpgJennifer/X: I don’t typically take online quizzes. There’s some tiny (well the Boomer part of me is not so tiny) that wonders where the information goes, what it connects me too, and what is going to come in the mail because I clicked that box...sigh. It is entertaining, but for me there’s not much to go on, the number of questions and the type of questions seem to rule out any statistical merit or reliable analysis...It’s a colorful distraction that I don’t usually indulge in.

Trisha/Mill: Let’s be real, ultimately these quizzes mean very little...I mean if they did, then I’m Winter Soldier based on this quiz and Cinderella based on this one. They truly are meant for amusement purposes only, but they never cease to draw me in. Interestingly, I was sassing the Buzzfeed quiz and questioning its validity, but I feel like it was the more researched-based quiz (well...loosely researched at least). As for the generational differences, I believe that there ARE distinct characteristics and behaviors that can closely be associated with specific generations. Whether this is due to environmental factors or the zeitgeist we grew up in, they do exist. However, I think that there is plenty of crossover/overlap amongst the generations. Yes, there are guiding principles, but it doesn’t mean one generation can’t adapt to embrace a stereotype of another generation (for example, I've been in a number of medical offices where there is a room full of Baby Boomers glued to their smartphone screens). I do think it’s important to be aware of some of the prominent generational differences (based on actual research...not just online quizzes). I have seen communication difficulties arise between generations...which, could be avoided if the generations were more open to exploring those differences. As a Millennial, I also have to assure everyone, we are not lazy (at least not more so than any other generation), we are not purposefully destroying the economy (let’s be real, that was messed up before we had any part in it), but yes avocado toast is delicious (for those who don’t mind the taste/texture of avocados at least...which isn’t all of us, FYI).

Emma/Z:  These quizzes are quite entertaining and always catch my attention, but I think we can all agree that they aren’t all that accurate. These questions tend to be guided more by stereotypes than facts or research. Take the USA Today quiz for example, since I knew Clint Eastwood as an actor in old western movies, they assumed that I was Gen X despite all my other answers. They also just assumed that because I was Gen X I didn’t trust the government, which seemed like a huge leap considering they asked questions about movies and music. These tests seem to run based on what people assume about the generations despite what might actually be true. I did like how the USA Today quiz took account for the fact that we can have aspects from multiple generations by giving us percentages. When going to take these tests I thought the Valencia College quiz would be the most research based but it seemed to be the most stereotypically based. I feel like the Buzzfeed quiz had more factual based questions which definitely surprised me because when I think about Buzzfeed quizzes I don’t necessarily expect anything remotely serious, especially when the next quiz that came up said it could tell me what dog I was. While these quizzes are fun, I think it is important to remember that these are just for fun and not to take them too seriously.

Other Resources to Learn More About the Different Generations

Bonus: All of these resources were discovered using the Bell Library’s Quick Search!!

Generational Differences Are Real and Useful

Generational Differences in the Workplace

Generations Do Differ: Best Practices in Leading Traditionalists, Boomers, and Generations X, Y, and Z

Generations in Flux: How Gen Z Will Continue to Transform Higher Education Space

How Generation Z's Reliance on Digital Communication Can Affect Future Workplace Relationships

Improve Interactions with Millennials on Your Campus by Considering Research‐Based Insight into Trends, Myths

Y and Z Generations at Workplaces

 

Happy Friday!!

Trisha, Jennifer, and Emma

 

 

By: Trisha Hernandez, Jennifer Anderson, Emma

Category: Library Randomness