The Lost Generation, G.I., Baby Boomers, Generation X, Y, Z … well, almost all the generations sound familiar. Even G.I. and Baby Boomers aren’t far from introduction. What about the Silent Generation then? Is it the one that is low on familiarity? Well, may be so. But let us tell you that this generation is one that is the wealthiest and technologically advanced.
The TIME magazine was the one to come up with the name of ‘Silent Generation.’ Henceforth, the name has always been in use.
Uniformity adds typicality to a mass, a generation as a whole. We have heard of many typical generations like progressive generation, rebellious generation, knowledgeable generation, et al. Up next, we shall know about the Silent Generation. Though this is a generation that has long passed, yet we have something more that is unique about this generation which sets them apart, and there is still room for knowing about it in this article. Let us first begin by knowing more about its name.
So, how is a name given? Perhaps, the prevailing circumstances is one of the deciding factors that gives a characteristic name to an entity, and then lends it an identity that is borne by the identity. So, is it that the generation, i.e., the Silent Generation is called “silent” because of the then-prevalent circumstances, which molded the behavior and personality of that generation? Well, YES. So, let us first evaluate the circumstances that propelled the formation of a generation that is remembered because of its silence.
Why Is It Called the Silent Generation?
One’s economic condition and social status are directly proportional. This is the first and clear key to understanding the conditions of the Silent Generation. The noteworthy factor of this condition was a mass identity for all the people, rather than a distinct identity. This led to the formation of an egalitarian society of sorts, where the class system was banished.
But, what in the first place led to all of these? Great Depression, war, or was it the fever of McCarthyism? Well, all the three per se.
• Joseph McCarthy was the father of McCarthyism. He is still remembered because of the fervor that he created in an attempt to banish communism soon after WWII came to a stop.
• He scrutinized everyone with the aim of limiting the advent of communism in America. He was an American senator, more famous because of his anti-communist bent of mind.
• He almost crippled the American society in his persuasion to achieve a non-communist America.
• The Korean war had already taken a toll on America. Also, there was this ongoing Cold War between the Soviet and the US.
• Communism was, by far, a Russian concept, which was, hence, a thing to despise. Therefore, McCarthy resolved to stop all signs of communism in America, the biggest threat being those communist Americans who were doubted about their integrity and counted as Russian spies.
• McCarthyism is just an extension of fear, and an anti-communist extravaganza. It curbed the media and the power to express. Films and books that McCarthy considered, which bore ideals of communism, were held back and not released.
• With an aim to restrict communism, McCarthyism rather put unnecessary restrictions on the lifestyle of the citizens.
• The generation was so much under this fear, that the freedom and right to free expression took a backseat. The generation was, thus, silent, and hence the name.
• The Great Depression that engulfed most of the industrialized civilization into the massive economic downturn also loomed large in America, and facilitated the formation of the Silent Generation.
• It started after the stock market crashed in 1929, and was there until the completion of a decade.
• Unemployment was one of the most prominent outcomes of the depression. Banks failed miserably, investors were lost from the market, production ceased, and the number of unsold goods in the market rose higher. Chaos ruled over.
Characteristics of the Silent Generation
• The Silent Generation existed from 1925 – 1945.
• The members in this generation were born amidst stark and unrewarding economic conditions.
• They were not fortunate enough to bear the fruits of luxury. It is hard to comment on the spending habits of the Silent Generation because there was no prominent expenditure in the first place.
• They craved to attain power. They wanted to achieve the maximum in minimum time.
• They were not economically affluent. Therefore, the more one was economically backward, the higher was his desire to reach the helm.
• They were aspiring to secure a decent job that would support their livelihood, rather than initiating self-induced ventures.
• They weren’t risk takers, but were stern believers in the government policies.
• They had faith in the New Deal programs, which were driven to eliminate the effects of the Great Depression. They envisioned for Relief, Recovery, and Reform.
• The people of this generation were participants in the second world war, or were born during this period.
• The size of the population was relatively small. It was approximately about 55 million.
• Their characteristic feature was to be safe for the future, keeping away from wastage. They also believed in fewer wants.
• They were guided by the principle of patriotism, good team contribution, stern family values, and traditions. These were some of the core values of the Silent Generation.
• They were either born in the face of dearth, or faced it some time during their life. But they were also the beneficiaries of prosperity.
• The children of this era didn’t show traits of enthusiasm or adventure. They believed in working silently, rather than creating a stir, which would otherwise make them prominent.
• These people were not rebellious. They didn’t instigate any protest against anything. They accepted everything in silence without any qualms.
• Hence, this value-laden generation is rightly called the Traditional Generation.
• They are also counted as the most well-to-do generation as the competition among them was not much, owing to the decreased population size.
Though this generation was plagued by the mishaps as already discussed in the paragraphs above, they were amongst the ones who have been fortunate to save and care for the future. Their present was pleasant, and their future was secured. They were also the ones who maintained good health.