Researchers have lots of theories about the Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials, but they don’t know much about the post-millennial generation yet. I propose that Snapchat will be the defining technology for the next generation.
According to the Pew Research Center, Baby Boomers were born between 1946-1954, Generation X was born between 1965-1980 and millennials were born between 1981-1997. That would mean current college juniors are the last of the millennials to be born, and current sophomores and freshmen are the first group of adults in the post-millennial generation. But why make the cutoff at 1997? What separates those born before and after that year?
|Year||Event||Seniors (Born 1996)||Juniors (Born 1997)||Sophomores (Born 1998)||Freshmen (Born 1999)|
|2007||iPhone invented||age 11||age 10||age 9||age 8|
|2011||Snapchat||age 15||age 14||age 13||age 12|
It could be argued that the rise of smartphones should define this new generation. Smartphones took the world by storm after 2007 when the first iPhone was released. Most college students were ages 8, 9, 10 and 11 when the iPhone was invented.
We all had the shared experience of coming of age with an iPhone. But compare this to the invention of Snapchat.
Snapchat was invented in 2011 when most college students were ages 12, 13, 14, and 15. Adolescence is full of rapid changes, so there’s a huge difference between a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old. Between these ages, we begin to develop identities and world views. As we began to understand the world, we looked at it through a filter -and for those born in 1998 or later, that would have been a Snapchat filter.
Although it was invented in 2011, Snapchat really started to become popular in 2012 and 2013. This means current sophomores and freshmen experienced all of high school with Snapchat, and current juniors and seniors did not. This is what separates the millennials from the post-millennials.
How does Snapchat define us? Well, Snapchat gave us instant picture messaging. Snapchat is visual and temporary. It allows us to store hundreds of images or lose them in an instant if we don’t hit “Save.” It allows us to show the world the little details of our lives, whether we’re on the toilet or at a concert. It allows us to quantify our best relationships by the lengths of our “streaks” with those people.
Snapchat stories are so popular that other social media sites like Instagram and Facebook decided to copy the idea. Every single event in our lives can now be instantly shared with our followers-friends and complete strangers alike. Think about how strongly this app would effect anyone who began using it during their formative teen years.
Thus, the post-millennial generation can be defined by those born in 1998 or later. This may be good news to some who would prefer not to be defined as a millennial. But then again, some of you might prefer not to be defined by your generation at all.