Falling through the generational cracks

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Maetenloch at Ace of Spades HQ has linked a short USA Today quiz on generational identification. For each question, you pick one answer among six, choosing the cultural experience that comes closest to your own (the hot toy of childhood, first major news event you remember, the big movie of your teen years, etc.). Then the program guesses your birth year based on your answer.

What I noticed on each question was a big gap where my experiences should have been. For first major news event, they had the RFK assassination (1968 -- I was four and didn't hear about it) and Chuck and Di's wedding (1981), but not the moon landing (1969 -- every kid remembered that) or Nixon's resignation (1974). For major sports figure you could pick from Joe Namath (won the 1969 Super Bowl) and Larry Bird (with the Celtics in 1980), but not Hank Aaron (broke Ruth's career home run record in 1974) or Mark Spitz (won a record number of medals at the 1972 Olympics). For technological advances the choices included color TV (1965) and cell phones (1983), but not the Walkman (1979), Pong, or digital watches. They had picks that would have worked for boomers and or for Gen X, but not for those of us born in the first half of the '60s, on the cusp between the two generations.

Based on my answers they guessed I was born in 1952. I'm guessing that was influenced by picks like Joe Namath and Tonka trucks, both of which were on the wane when I was growing up, but were still around. (I knew about Namath more as a celebrity who did Noxzema ads and wore pantyhose than as an active football player.) The next available picks chronologically were too late on my personal timeline to be good answers.

It's interesting to see that, using USA Today's generational boundaries, not only do I fall into a Gap, so do my parents, who were born just before WW II: too late to know the depression, but too early to be considered Boomers. (Interestingly, the Beatles fall into that same crack.)

Speaking of Namath and Noxzema:

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singleton Author Profile Page said:

They got me within one year (or maybe one month). They said 1942 and I was born in January 43

Albert said:

But do you remember Hai Karate?

I certainly do! I got a bottle in our kindergarten gift exchange. If memory serves, for our class Christmas party, we each brought a small gift for an unnamed classmate, and that's what I wound up with. It didn't seem to have the advertised effect.

Paul said:

They guessed that I was born around 1964, which exactly correct. They vary the questions and possible answers from test to test. The first time I took the quiz, I saw nothing about RFK, Charles & Di, Nixon, the lunar landing, Tonka trucks, or Joe Namath.

So I took the quiz a second time, responding as follows:

Toy: Rubik's Cube

Technology: the first Mac

Song: YMCA, The Village People

TV show: The Muppets (Dallas was my selection the first time I took the quiz, but wasn't an option the second time.)

Fashion: Mullet hair style

They guessed 1965 from my second set of responses.

On the first take, I chose Pong for the toy. I chose Chris Evert for the sports figure, although I think Mark Spitz was another option. There were no questions about a song or fashion the first time I took the quiz, and no question about a major news event either time I took it.

XonOFF said:

Sugarrrr Prumm!!

Thanks, Paul. So it looks like there were better answers in the database, but I got a bad draw on most of the questions.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 28, 2010 12:08 AM.

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