I have been obsessed since I was young with generational events: single events that have a major domino effect over a whole generation.
We are talking about a single moment that people of a generation will remember as the first major event which re-shaped the world of their parents into their own.
At the begining of the century, the Assassination of ArchDuke Ferdinand was one such event: The world had been escalating in a militarized build-up and over-complexifying alliances and that build-up over a whole generation unwound at that particular moment which kicked off The Great Was (we now know as World War I).
Less and a generation later, the Black Friday which triggered the great depression and later, the rise of Hitler and World War 2 was another of such generational events.
Notice how both events occurred on a single day but caused decades of hardship and changes.
The Baby Boomers
As it so happen, the next generation is those we now call the Baby Boomers.
What is their generational event?
- JFK's Assassination?
- The Vietnam war?
Of course not, you probably know that one: The first walk on the moon.
The 3 above are important and marked their generation but didn't transform it.
The first walk on the moon on the other hand, caused a major technological race between the USSR and the USA which the latter convincingly won.
That technological race continued with better industrialization, computerization and general productivity gains.
The Baby Boomers grew up with a positive outlook on life thanks to this victory compared to the previous generation.
My generation was looking for our Walk on the Moon. We also ended up with multiple candidates:
- The Birth of the Internet
- The Challenger Shuttle explosion
- The Fall of the Berlin Wall
But once again, while the Birth of the Internet tranformed the world, it didn't shape our generation that much: some of us (me included) were transformed by many of us are barely online. It's a generation later when our kids joined the Internet that many of us truly connected.
The Challenger Shuttle explosion mostly touched the Baby Boomers who saw it as the end of the US supremacy on space exploration.
The most serious contender is the Fall of the Berlin Wall which ended the cold war, but I have an even better on: The Chernobyl explosion.
Gorbatchev himself credits the explosion of the nuclear plant as cause of the fall of the Soviet Union: it as the straw that broke the camels back or rather, the little boy who say the Emperor had no clothes.
The fall of the Berlin Wall 1989, while massive in effect, would simply be the consequence of the explosion 3 years earlier.
This one is both obvious and not. Their generational event is massive: it's like a Black Hole that pulls all of the attention to itself.
It's the only event that everyone knows by date. The only date that really marked the calender: Even D-Day or Pearl Harbor are referred to by their name.
I am talking of course, about September 11th's terrorist Attacks in the USA.
Why is it not obvious? Because many of the millenials were simply too young! This event occured too early in their generation with the latest ones being mere babies.
But it's clear that the travel restrictions, lost civil liberties and the curbing of the Internet that began in 2001 was a clear shift.
We do not have a clear name for my daugther's generation so we use Zoomers are lot. They were called Generation Z, hence Zoomers.
I think it's obvious that we are right now going thru their own generation event: the Covid19 pandemic.
For them, the single day event will be the day they were sent home from school for the rest of the year. It's not the same day across the globe, but it's the same cause, the same event.
What will be tranformed? That yet to be seen. We didn't know what the Walk on the Moon would cause, what Chernobyl would do or that September 11th would see a reduction in civil liberties. It's in hindsight that we can begin to understand them.
Will it finally cause a great ecological revolution? Will it cause another great depression? A massive telecommuting shift?
The death of globalization?
It's hard to say, but this new generation will not be living in the same world as we did, like every new generation before them.