Alumni News

Breaking Down the Generations

A phone taking a picture of a meal.
Photo by Alexandra Iakovleva/Getty

In 2017, long before “OK, Boomer” became a thing, BYUradio host and alum Mark T. Wait (BA ’95) had the idea to start a show that would, as he says, “let members of the older generation and the younger generation go head-to-head on some of today’s topics and issues.” Called Act Your Age, the show included discussions and debates on subjects ranging from breakfast foods to budgeting. Here are three excerpts from the show, featuring opinions from guests of a variety of generations:

Generational Labeling

Are Millennials truly the “lazy generation”?

Cameron W. Bronson (BA ’19), Millennial: “When we talk about the Greatest Generation or Baby Boomers, we talk about the events that were happening when they were growing up, things they participated in. But when people talk about Millennials, they are always talking about something we are doing wrong. I have friends who get angry because they feel their generational cohorts are poorly representing their generation. I think because media has put a negative spin on our generation, we start to be blamed for the woes of society.”

Wait, Gen X/Baby Boomer: “Well, the Greatest Generation was labeled as such because of WWII, because of extreme sacrifice. The current generation just doesn’t have that level of hardship.”

Lauren Simpson Wilkey (BS ’18), Millennial: “I think we could be labeled as the most productive generation. I think that could definitely happen. The workload we can handle in eight hours is so much more than it was years ago because of the speed of communication and willingness to work extra to get the job done.”

Food Worship

Nobody cares about the cutesy meal you made, vegan or not . . . or do they?

Wait, Gen X/Baby Boomer: “Millennials love eating healthily, but more than that they love to show that they eat healthily. In our culture nowadays, there are so many cooking shows and even entire channels dedicated to cooking. But on top of that, meals are all over social media. In my opinion it has gotten out of control. It is sort of a food worship.”

K. Sage Smiley (BA ’19), Millennial: “Social media is honestly a big motivator to eating healthily. It is a healthy peer pressure that we have. For me, I’m a vegan because the environmental impact of the meat and dairy industry is enormous. Something I can do to mitigate that impact is to not eat meat or dairy. We live in a world where we can get information about the global impact of our food, and that influences Millennials to make more world-conscious food decisions and then share them with other people. I’m proud when I make a cute and colorful meal; I almost always share it.”

Divisive Devices

Old or young, who needs an all-you-can-eat buffet of information?

BYU comparative arts and letters professor Robert L. Colson, Gen X: “The thing that worries me is that the young people in the workplace aren’t even using their devices consciously. I’ve seen them take it out and interact with it without even being aware. You need to engage with this device consciously and deliberately and not just out of habit. Because it can read as very disrespectful in a church setting, on a date, and especially at work.”

Caroline R. Coppersmith (’20), Millennial: “We got my dad an iPad two years ago, and I feel like I haven’t had a full conversation with him since. He’s on Facebook all the time. He’s 10 times worse than me, and I’m a Millennial. Is this really a generational thing? Or is it something we all struggle with?”

Wait, Gen X/Baby Boomer: “You’re right. It is so amazing that we have access to so much information so easily, but it is almost like sitting there at a buffet of food and not even thinking about it as you’re constantly shoving bite after bite into your mouth. If you are constantly putting things in your mouth without realizing it, there are going to be negative consequences—and this smartphone era is kind of the informational equivalent of that endless buffet.”

MORE: Act Your Age no longer airs, but you can find archived episodes by searching for the show at BYUradio.

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