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What's a generation? 30-20-10-7?

Going, going, gone

In 1936, the Oxford Universal Dictionary defined a generation as "the whole body of individuals born about the same period (usually computed at 30 years)." Author Richard Blow says that today "it's impossible to speak of people 10 years apart as if they were a coherent entity."

He divides people in their twenties into two groups, "the twentysomethings, aged roughly 25 to 30, and the group aged 18 to 25, which I call the twenty-ish."

The upper range of "our" generation in this feature is probably 19, overlapping a little with Blow's twentyishers. It includes 13 or 14 year old teenagers, but certainly doesn't seem to include those under 11.

Blow's groups are distinctly defined and definable: twenty-somethings generally have feelings of "uncertainty and a reluctance to be pinned down," along with "apathy, cynicism, alienation, ambivalence, pessimism and lowered expectation." The twenty-ish are "optimistic, idealistic, energetic, and sure of themselves."

These mini-generations seem to be travelling in a cycle. The generation I see around me isn't part of the twenty-ishers, but they seem to reflect similar life view with the twentysomethings -- only worse. As noted in an accompanying sidebar by Meredith Davies, a fellow member of "our" generation, the next group to enter their teen years seems to also be "optimistic, idealistic, energetic, and sure of themselves."

I'm tempted to close with a '50s comment, "Let's hope so," but I'll take one from a '40s cynic Kurt Vonnegut, "So it goes."