To Infinity And Beyond: Generation Alpha

Generation Alpha My mother hates it when I refer to myself as an “American” because I am, first and foremost, Bengali. Well, someone has to be American, right? Its no longer “white people” and it never really was. Generations X,Y and Z are differentiated according to pop culture, technology, and mentality- each churning our melting pot a bit more.  Born between the start of the 80's and the Clinton scandal, I belong in Generation Y. Anyone before Y is either a Baby Boomer, or their child: Generation X.

There isn’t much analytical research on this (not online at least) so the specific cut offs for the generations vary. Its easier to distinguish each of these unique time periods with labels for the varying characteristics and motives.

Generation X 1965-1979

Generation Y 1980-1997

Generation Z 1997-2010

Generation AA 2010-…

Generation X has a subculture rooted against the norm. They caught up on music and even fashion from MTV, knew the importance of higher education, and like my parents, felt America to be the model society. They left home, liberated society, and made progress a major goal.

I feel lucky to have been born in the time frame for Generation Y. Computers shrunk before my eyes, one of the greatest Presidents was involved in a scandal, history was made with the attacks of 9/11, the King of Pop died, our first African American President was elected and social networking became a hobby-this list is beyond extensive. “No Surprises” would best fit this Generation because we have dealt with an intensive amount of change.

The children in our current society are already an intriguing biproduct of America’s melting pot, exponential progression in technology and societal views. Both Generation Y and Z are crucial targets for the media and advertising because they were inherently raised to keep up with the times. Generation Z has a major head start on everything-using technology, making their own social rules, and accepting change. While Generation Y is a part of the main workforce, Generation Z will be graduating high school and discovering the limits to all that we are accustomed to now.

The past decade has included murmurs about the bad side effects of extended cell phone usage, our role in global warming, loss of traditional values and major changes in human communication. Traditional structures of family no longer apply-children born out of wedlock and divorces are becoming alarmingly common. These are all issues we face but what does it mean for Generation A, my offspring?

Generation A will be born accepting the desire for the highest formal education- attending college will probably be required for any profession. Technology will likely have a base in everyday functions. The internet paired with smartphones have already facilitated getting directions, mass spread of knowledge to even picking a place for lunch. I read and know everything just on Twitter at least minutes before it airs on any news channel. The constant need to keep up, progress further, and establish a mark will be the greatest and toughest aspect of Generation A. It’s a little daunting to think that social networking, smaller families, text etiquette, etc. will passage into a life style rather than mere choice.

Of course, these are only my predictions. As a Bengali-American, I feel like I’m a part of the experiment group. I juggle two cultures, languages-all in the midst of practicing a faith in a society that is based on constant change. Different cultures and backgrounds are still fascinating in America but will they be once the cultures Generation Z and A, B, etc. are only defined as American? Perhaps Generation A will grow weary of the race to the future and strive to head back to their roots. Maybe my children will be more curious about their ancestral roots and opt out of a semi-real society based on the Internet. Maybe the Kindle will seem like a joke to them and paperback books will once again be cherished. Generation A may become economically savvy to contrast its parent, Generation Y, who has spent more in a time of recession than any other. I personally feel that there will be a great backlash against our current culture into a focus on simpler goals and traditional values. Ideally, Generation A will reignite a movement similar to the renaissance and take more political initiative- finally putting original definition to "American".

Generation A will be a pivotal outcome of all that we have placed importance on today. They have no option but to be pioneers for greater social, cultural, and technological changes. And with our greater life expectancy, we should all be alive to see it.