Monday, January 22, 2007

I'm a piece of white chocolate

I attended a seminar on language and media last weekend and opinions were raised regarding the preferences of language style of different generations. The assumption was that elderly people don’t really like reading English words in the news paper, slang or expressions like rofl. About midways in the debate, I started reflecting on which generation dwelling I confess to (I’m born 1978). Am I a Generation X:er (people born 1965-1978)? Or do I belong to the Generation Y (1979-1999) or even the MTV Generation (1974-1985)? At times, I feel like I belong to Generation Y, that is net-savvy folks brought up in an wired world where a natural source of news is the online version of the local newspaper. But then again, I don’t really feel like I match the description (although I was fortunate enough to have a commodore 64 in my room with the splendid game Boulderdash). I feel like I’m a piece of white chocolate, which is referred to as chocolate, but contains neither cocoa beans nor caffeine. It is not real chocolate, close but no cigar, kind of. Shortly, I feel like I’m too old for the net generation category but too young to tick the generation X box. I’m somewhere in between two distinct generations.

So I started listing what stands out for people, born like me in 1978 and teeter-tottering between Generation X and Generation Y. This is a highly non-scientific, statistically non-significant but indeed a subjective identification of a pattern: Many of my friends in my age value friends and family (as opposed to the job), money (ironically enough considering the earlier parenthesis), sharing and connectedness. They tend to think in terms of chains instead of hyper links. They are net-savvy and wired, but still don’t give the possibility of leveling in WoW higher priority than strolling around in the park a beautiful, sunny winter’s day. Right about here, a label for this group of people came to mind: Generation W. The “W” would be ideal, not due to the evolution of www (the web) while we were young and neither due to our life being pretty wired, but because of the typography. The W is basically two V:s in one, which symbolizes a fellowship, a togetherness. Depending on the font used, the first V is mirrored, that is identical but yet different. And because it is mirrored, it’s easy for another letter to take over (like WW). That reflects the sense for justice and thinking in terms of chains. The letter W also, depending on the font, resembles a pot which of course makes one associate to inclusiveness, togetherness.

Excited about my “new” notion, I googled it to see in what contexts it has been used and whether it is a widely used term. Apparently, there’s a tv-series with this name aired in the late 1990’s. But other than that, I did not manage to get a clear picture of what “Generation W” stands for, or who it comprises. According to one source, it’s been applied to persons born in 1980-2000 (the W stands for web perhaps). Another blogger writes about the war generation, in other words kids born or brought up while Bush is in the White house. If any of you readers are familiar with the field of generation research and how the notion of generation w is used, please let me know!

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