Everybody loves to define a generation, it’s the foundation of thousands of management consultancy and creative agency slides trying to help the client understand the characteristics of the people they’re trying to sell to and engage with.
And just as the printer ink is still fresh on the Generation Alpha slide along comes another new generation to think about - Generation M
Let’s take a walk down memory lane to explore the current crop of generations that are relevant for today.
Generation X: born 1965 to 1980
With a decline in birth rates in 1965 came Generation X, which demographers generally say lasted until 1980. Gen X is also called the “baby bust” because of its smaller post-boom numbers. It’s often a forgotten generation too - I myself sit squarely in here but nobody targets me for any of the cool shit because I’m clearly too old to understand how this newfangled technology all works.
Let me programme the VCR, just don’t ask me to use IFTTT.
Xennials: born 1977 to 1983
Squeezed in next was a “micro-generation” of Xennials born in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Also known as the “Oregon Trail generation,” Xennials had an analogue childhood and digital adulthood. Which sounds a lot like Gen-X anyway but you know, analysts and agencies love to make up new stuff.
Millennials: born 1981 to 1996
According to Pew Research Center, Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996. The older segment of the demographic is well into adulthood. Millennials are also called Generation Y for following Generation X, and as the children of boomers, they’re sometimes called “echo boomers.” Oddly they get blamed for everything, including climate change because of avocados and beard oil.
Generation Z: born 1997 or after
Then came Gen Z, or iGen, which roughly starts with people born in 1997. This was the generation born with an iPhone in their hand or something.
Generations and generational differences are intriguing and inherently appealing concepts. As such, the media will keep on reporting on them, academics will publish, pundits will talk, and consultants will sell to whoever is buying, but the science says that, despite their popularity, generations simply aren’t a thing.
It is important to be clear what not a thing means. It does not mean that people today are the same as people 80 years ago or that anything else is static. Times change and so do people. However, the idea that distinct generations capture and represent these changes is unsupported.
Generation Alpha: born 2010 or after
What comes after Gen Z? Some researchers are using the name Generation Alpha for kids born since 2010. This is the generation most likely to hate the rest of us because we failed miserably at stopping things like Juicero from being funded.
Of course, everyone has their own opinion on dates, traits, habits etc, they’re not a hard and fast rule here for this blog because I want to talk about what’s coming after Alpha.
One of the biggest experiences shared by a generation is the technology it grew up with.
No, it’s not Beta - sounds too much like a software release to me.
It’s Generation M.
Generation M, or Gen-M for short, is the generation born from the mid-2020s through to 2040 who will be growing up with the metaverse. It makes perfect sense - where we’ve had digital natives or digitally savvy citizens of Earth in earlier generations this particular one will become natives of the metaverse.
From early childhood, they’ll engage and immerse themselves completely in a 3D world online in the same way we interact with 2D websites.
Their currency is crypto, NFTs, distributed funding models.
They’ll understand metanomics
- the economy of the metaverse.
Virtual goods, brands and experiences are more valuable to them than their physical equivalents.
They’ll base their career choices around what paths are available to them to be part of the metaverse - whether that’s building it or building a business in it.
They will drive and own the new creator economy.
Their cultural genre will be Metapunk, much like Cyberpunk that came before it.
They might still buy avocados but they’ll be virtual. Hell, there’s nothing stopping them from building Avocado World - because they can**.**
Get ready for Generation M.
They know the planet is a mess, they know not drinking from plastic straws was a distraction technique everyone fell for, and they know that the worlds within the metaverse hold more promise, engagement and opportunity for them than the world outside.
It’s time to start thinking ahead.