No, I do not mean Generation Y, that group of people who come between Generation X and that dubbed the Millenials. Rather I refer to my generation, the aforementioned Xers. Earlier today on Facebook I bemoaned all the writing we have been doing about ourselves. I guess this makes me a bit of a hypocrite but I am sick of reading all I have been about how supposedly maligned we are. So I give you this article: Generation Why. As in, “why don’t they just shut up already?”
Don’t get me wrong, I think I have established fairly well that I am a fan of free speech. They have every right to speak, I just wish they wouldn’t. They make us all look like assholes. The thing is, I don’t think we are assholes. I know too many of our generation personally, even if I prefer the company of Millenials, to write us off. I also am more than aware that today’s writers, these bloggers, these giants of genuflections and gesturing, thrive off polemics, so of course they have to make it out to be this great conflict. How else are they going to get you to read?
They complain that we are maligned as slackers and whiners. I think every previous generation levels the former at the new one, I know we have with the Millenials (and again, I have witnessed first hand how that is so much bullshit.) As for the whiner bit, well, they prove their point. We have been doing it since we graduated high school. I remember working on Jerry Brown’s ’92 bid for the Democratic nomination for President he pandered quite nicely to the notion so many of us believed (though, and I know this will sound like denial, I never believed this part of his schtick) that we were going to be the first generation of Americans to have it worse than our parents.
I beg your pardon? Really? I am pretty sure my grandmother, who would be 102 years old this year if she was with us today, would have something to say about that. Her generation came of age during the Great Depression. So suck it up oh ye children of the Atari 2600. We grew up in a society with safety nets, and some remnants of the post WW2 prosperity. We were raised on gluttony and glamor, and when we realized there was actual ugliness in the world we had the temerity to act like we were the ones to discover it.
Now I have to sit here, on the internet (OK, I guess I don’t HAVE to) and read people like Ted Rall bitch about how our generation got the shaft. He implies that we were passed over when we were young for being immature and are being passed over by Millenials for being too old. Funny thing that. I know plenty of people in management in our generation. I know, personally, CEO’s of companies my age. So somehow, I don’t think we got passed over. The real funny thing is, I remember the Boomers making the same complaint with far greater validity.
They were the first children of the Information Age but they were raised in the institutions and culture of the Industrial One. They were ill-equipped to run things, outside of law and politics, in the rapidly changing world. Our education was built around this shift in culture and capability. We were raised ready to use the personal computer and given the basis to master its progeny. We are the first children RAISED for the Information Age. They were victims of the shift from one age to the next, we just like to play the victim card.
Hey, I know things are tough all over, and there is some validity to our crying foul at every critique of our generation. Some of the older folks think we are immature, some of the young folks think we are relics. Guess what? We thought the boomers were relics, and some of us still do, and think the Millenials are immature. Circle of life kiddies. I do not begrudge a little reflection on this issue. Since the blooming of the aforementioned Information Age, each milestone for each generation seems to be cause for endless analysis.
The so-called Greatest Generation (you know, the one that had to be dragged kicking and screaming into a fight with a mad man and into programs that made their lives easier) retired and we all wondered what that meant. Generation X, the first TRUE children of this new media drenched world are middle-aged now. What does that mean?
I do begrudge the endless whining I have been reading from anyone else presuming to speak for us. We need a voice besides those folks, and not just mine (I am too much of a crabby bastard to speak for anyone.) So fellow Gen Xers, the next time you hear one of us acting like a whiny stereotype of our set, please, slap them upside the head. Or, you know, just point out the irony of them whining about us being called whiners.