Echo Boomers

From Thomas Barnett’s seminal book “Blueprint For Action”

As 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft put it in his profile of the cohort, “Echo boomers are the most watched-over generation in history. Most have never ridden a bike without a helmet, ridden in a car without a seat belt, or eaten in a cafeteria that serves peanut butter.” As a result, they are naturally team-oriented overachievers who, unlike previous recent generations, trust the government, hold traditional values, and emulate their parents instinctively.

The Echo Boomers, or the huge 80-million-plus generation of Americans born between 1980 and 1995 (the largest generation this country has ever known), … come the year 2025, they’ll be the cohort (age thirty to forty-five) that’s doing the most moving and shaking in our economy and political scene.

The Echo Boomers are also natural networkers. They build their own Web sites, burn their own CDs, and edit their own DVDs. They distrust slick packaging and mainstream media, preferring to share information among themselves to a degree never witnessed before. They are the ultimate word-of-mouth generation.

Natural multitaskers because they grew up in conditions of universal connectivity (the oldest came of age right as the Internet blossomed into a global phenomenon), the Echo Boomers are, in the words of one demographic study, “totally plugged-in citizens of a worldwide community.” As such, they know multiculturalism not as something to be accepted, but as simply a fact of life, since over a third of this generation is nonwhite. Probably the least “churched” generation in U.S. history, they are nonetheless deeply interested in making the world a better place. As historian Neil Howe describes Echo Boomers, they are far closer in outlook to the “greatest generation” from World War II than their egocentric Baby Boomer parents. In short, they’re “more interested in building things up than tearing them down.”

This generation is far enough removed from the sensibilities of their parents that “the bomb” is their slang for cool, and “gay” has mutated into an all-purpose put-down for nerds and geeks. But like Pearl Harbor served as a wake-up call for their grandparents’ generation, 9/11 is their historical touchstone. And like their parents’ fixation on the Vietnam War, their sense of the world is being dramatically shaped by the global war on terrorism.

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