Generation Z: Another Generational Caricature

One of my favourite quotes is by Soren Kierkegaard:

“Once you label me you negate me.”

I’ve previously posted about our labelling of the Millenials (Generation Y).

Shortly after I wrote that post I read an article in the New York Times about Generation Z which made me sigh – Make Way for Generation Z.

(At least we are now at the end of the alphabet and someone will have to do something a bit more interesting than just labelling the next generation as an increment from the last one. Perhaps we’ll move to special characters, how about Generation #?)

I was going to write something about why this article made me sigh, but then I came across someone who had done a better job – Generalization Z: The Times reduces generation Z to a caricature by Josh Bernoff in without bullshit:

While generalization in writing is a sin, drawing broad conclusions about a whole generation is far worse. Alexandra Levit’s piece about Generation Z in the New York Times is a great – that is, awful – example.

The sin of generalization has three basic flavors: generalizations hedged with weasel words; unsupported broad, sweeping statements; and generalization from one or two examples. They’re all lame, and you shouldn’t believe any of them.

Josh Bernoff goes on to explain in more detail where the original article fails. It’s a master lesson to all of us who write and the reconstructed article on Google Docs is great.

(If you would like to you can submit some BS to the site for analysis – now where was that email from finance?)

One thought on “Generation Z: Another Generational Caricature”

  1. Even more interesting was the comment from the author of this article on my blog. She claims the New York Times prevented her from including her own research in the article. I’m dubious about generalizations about generations, just as you are, but without data they’re totally meaningless.


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