Something interesting emerged in this discussion over at NSFWCorp about millenials' generational identity (it's locked for subscribers, but it's also $3 a month, so you should totally remedy that).
Simply put, with a few notable exceptions — socially liberal, used to the internet, economically precarious — I feel largely removed from the popular story about millenials that's developed. No one in my social circle lives with their parents. They all have a ridiculous work ethic and pull long hours at whatever jobs they can find. Rather than delusionally entitled, they're realistic to the point of bleak cynicism.
All generational identities are massive generalizations to begin with, riddled with exceptions. But something has shifted, perhaps to the point where a Baby Boomer-style common culture is impossible.
Previous sweeping "generations" — the Lost, the Greatest, the Silent, the Boomers — came of age in eras of less inequality, broader social institutions, and a more cohesive mass media. Today, generational identity as we know it is probably dead.
This isn't to say that almost everyone 18-30 isn't shaped by some similar experiences, but it's easier to have a common perspective when there are three television channels, a tycoon's son still has to go for a draft physical, or when the entire country goes to war. That world is gone.
Hell, in 1930 12 percent of American men were part of the Freemasons; it's impossible to imagine any single organization today commanding that kind of influence.
Instead, the media environment keeps fragmenting, meaning parts of the same age group are exposed to widely varying cultures depending on their own interests. The increasing class divide further segregates the scions of the better-off into their own universes. The wealthy have always led different lives, of course, but the chasm has widened to the point their young are divorced from the experiences of others.
I've hoped for a strong millenial identity, partly as a counter to the get-thee-to-a-fracking field scoldings we often receive. But maybe the landscape is far too fragmented now for that to ever occur. The cultures that emerge won't have a common identity in any but the broadest sense.
Instead, they will be different shards, adapting to the world facing them in a thousand ways, or heading to hell purely by their own compass.