The problem with kids these days is that they keep getting older and becoming, well, not kids, which makes it difficult to know just whose poor decisions we should be clutching our pearls over. Most of the tongue clucking over millennials has subsided, as the generation sometimes known as Y now comprises adults who are over 30, jobless, and laden with debt, making them virtually indistinguishable from Generation X-ers. Clearly, it’s time to define another group at which we can direct our ire and disapproval. According to Time, MTV has done just that, with the help of the whippersnappers themselves.
Apparently, there are high school-age people who don’t want to be lumped into the same group as the sad-sack barista who makes their lattes (and advertising executives who are desperate for another demographic to pander to), so a few labels for the aughts kids have been bandied about in recent years. So far, people who probably aren’t part of this particular age group have referred to it as Gen Z, iGen, Posts, Homeland Generation, ReGen, and Plurals. But, despite the fact that someone clearly dug deep for that Gen Z label, today’s teens haven’t been receptive to those unimaginative monikers.
So in March 2015, MTV asked 1,000 people born after December 2000 what they would like to be called. Because who better to help define a generation than the network whose name was once synonymous with a previous generation, right? And the youngsters revealed their high collective self-esteem by suggesting such names as the Navigators, the Regenerators, the Builders, and the Bridge Generation. The winning name out of a possible 544 was The Founders, which is a little presumptuous, but at least it’s not an Instagram filter.
The name is reportedly rooted in the obligation that the new generation feels to fix the mess created by all their jerk predecessors. MTV president Sean Atkins told Time, “They have this self-awareness that systems have been broken. But they can’t be the generation that says we’ll break it even more.” The soon-to-be Founders are supposedly more “pragmatic and independent” than millennials. They’re also the most diverse generation yet, which is presumably why MTV (and just about everyone else) is trying to figure out how to cater to it. The network acknowledges that the name might not stick, and is probably standing by with something like The Cord-Cutters to take its place.