I was born in 1996 and my brother was born in 1998. 1996 was the Chinese Zodiac’s Year of the Rat; meanwhile, 1998 was the Year of the Tiger. I don't know about y'all but a tiger is much cooler than a rat.
Yet, there is a bigger difference between 1996 and 1998 than two years and a poor allocation in spirit animals. The difference is that I’m part of the Millennial Generation and my brother is part of Generation Z. By definition, the Millennial generation is anyone born in the years 1981 to 1996. So I was born at the rat’s ass end of that generation. Anyone born after 1996 through 2012 was Gen Z.
Growing up, I was told that I was one of the millennials that were ruining everything the Gen Xers (1965-1980) and Boomers (1946-1964) had built. That our way of shit-posting on Facebook via ‘like my status for a TBH’ statuses was detrimental to our mental and social wellbeing. We would not be able to contribute to the working world because we were too glued to our screens.
Then suddenly came the dawn of Gen Z, currently dubbed the Zoomers. At first, Gen Z was only defined by being the children that were glued to their iPads. May I add, the Gen X parents that pushed iPads on their kids so they would be quiet are the same people who criticized Millennials for overusing technology. I’m not bitter.
Anyway, Gen Zers were children until the introduction of a phenomenon so enormous even my grandparents asked me what it was.
At first, Tik Tok was a social media platform that gave Zoomers a voice that was not tainted. It was not tainted by the drowsy millennials, the Karen type Gen Xers and elderly OK boomers. Zoomers could post freely and be as creative or not creative (i.e. Renegade) as their young souls desired. Then the older generations began to trickle in. They trickled in the same way our parents and grandparents joined Facebook. And everyone had to have an opinion about what Gen Z was doing. Most of the elders labeled the videos as cringy, vulgar, or plain weird. Gen Z had taken over the society-disrupting identity the Millennials had once owned.
Enter: the Cuspers.
I’m a Cusper because I was born on the cusp of the generational divide. And even though I’m by definition a Millennial, I find Tik Tok to be quite delightful. I love the creativity and I’m captivated by the story-times and house-related drama.
Unfortunately, this addiction to scrolling videos comes with judgment from others. Judgment from the Gen Z and Millennials alike who think I’m too old for the app and Gen Xers who think I’m going to get all my personal information stolen (if you’re online, it is safe to assume your information is out there anyway – have you seen my Twitter?). I will say, the Boomers don’t care - they are just now trying to infiltrate Instagram anyway.
Now the Cuspers face a dilemma, we are being blamed for two generations instead of one. As millennials, we were just finally forgiven for our usage of cell phones and citing Wikipedia as a source. As Gen Z advocates, we are being blamed for the liberal Tik Toks and funky fashion. To our conservative elders, we are everything wrong in the world.
Here’s the thing. There was once a time where the Boomers were the hip generation. They are the ones who started the fad of watching television after all. They were judged by the ironically named “Silent Generation” (1925-1945). And then they became the ones who judged the generations below them.
The point is as time moves forward, the elder generations will keep criticizing the younger generations. One day, Gen Z will criticize Generation Alpha, who are babies right now. It is healthy to assume the elder generation’s opinion holds merit because of the wisdom. But, it is ignorant to assume that the new generation is wrong because their ideas are novel.
This meshing of wisdom and novel is what brings us forward as a society and the shaming needs to stop. As a Cusper, it is exhausting to take the blame for two generations of novel ideas. Having to belong to a generation and take the blame for its labels is a load of shit.
Generational labeling is good for historical research once the generation has passed on. But, as long as the generation is still alive, it is not good for segregating thought process. Seriously, why are we segregating ourselves based on age?
As a person born in 1996, my only fact I know to be true until the last of my generation leaves this Earth is that being born in the year of the rat sucks.