First, let me say that I fully understand that our division of society into discreet generations is mostly arbitrary and to some degree ridiculous. Nevertheless, it’s pretty easy to spot clear, if somewhat fuzzy, lines separating different age cohorts in the US. Everybody knows what a Boomer is, for instance.
The two most recent named generations are the Millenials and GenZ (sometimes referred to, amusingly, as “iGen”). They are fairly clearly separated by the rise of the Internet; GenZ can’t remember a world without it; Millenials can, but barely. Both cohorts are routinely maligned as ineffectual and overly fragile. In Greg Lukianoff’s and Jon Haidt’s excellent book The Coddling of the American Mind the case is made that the GenZ kids, who entered university around the time the world started falling apart in earnest around 2014, are responsible for the decline in free speech values and the stifling of academic discourse in the US. Lukianoff and Haidt argued that these students were severely harmed by their (GenX?) parents’ overprotection, leading to their tendency to form cancel culture mobs to expurgate any uncomfortable thoughts from their vicinity.
I think the iGen is unfairly blamed here. My own experience is that the younger you go, the less support you find for these radically woke leftist doctrines. The alt-right trolls who turned the 2016 election into a real-life comedy routine were (probably) mostly iGen memelords, for instance. The world’s most popular YouTuber, PewDiePie, gets 2358710357 views every time he subtly trolls Woke sensibilities. And this article from harassed, unWoke professor Samuel Abrams of Sarah Lawrence College shows that in the youngest cohort there is a strong desire for viewpoint diversity and a culture of open dissent, at least in some colleges.
My own anecdotal experience with the cancel culture mob has been pretty clear — iGen is mostly uninterested in politics, and is more disgusted by the terroristic tactics of extremists on both sides of the divide than they are by Donald Trump. 100% of my harassers have been Millenials. In some cases they are able to mobilize small numbers of activist students to act as their pawns, but there’s always a Millenial in the background pulling the strings. It’s only Millenials that pantomime quivering fear over my presence, and it’s only Millenials that have pushed for me to be fired. Of course, the vast majority of Millenials don’t want anything to do with this sort of nonsense — but of the people who DO join hate mobs, in my experience these people are mostly Millenials.
Truthfully, there is a part of me that feels sorry for the Millenial Mob. They truly seem to believe they are in mortal danger from libertarian college professors who reject the Woke Faith. Something is deeply screwed up in these poor people, and it’s a shame — one wonders what uniquely horrible trend passed through society during the 2000s that made this generation so much weaker than the ones before and after. But that doesn’t change the fact that the grown-ups who participate in these behaviors are destructive, childish bigots, and everyone on Earth who believes in science and learning has a duty to oppose them.