Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Lamest Generation

Josh the Pilot is going to be 25 in two weeks (shut up.) He thinks we are both Generation X; I told him that I'm GenX but he's GenY. His definition of what a generation is depends on who the parents are: If your parents were baby boomers, you are a GenXer. If your parents are the children of baby boomers, you are GenY. That sounded overly broad at first, but once I ate a few fries and thought about it, this makes sense to me. He and I are only four years apart, and while that seems like a big deal now in in our 20's, it's exceedingly lame to ascribe to totally different generations people born so close together in the broad frame of time.

Then again, my parents (vintage 1941) aren't really baby boomers, so I suppose I should schedule an identity crisis for myself sometime next week.

I minored in history (because, that's why) and therefore take a longer view of this. How can we charactarize a generation that hasn't made its mark yet (GenY)? We're called GenX solely because people didn't know how we're going to shape the world. Well... no crap, we were on our Sit 'n' Spins at the time.

Others have called us "the MTV generation," which I hereby greet with a hearty BOOOOOOOOOO. I refuse to live out my days associated with Pat Bennetar's hair and a cable station now desperately grasping for relevance ("Here... it's another episode of The Real World! Aren't we cool, kids? Huh? Huh? Hey... get back here!")

I think our society is eager to bust out its plastic labelmaker on everything and analyze it practically as it happens as a product of the 24-hour news cycle. For instance, we have no business declaring Presidential administrations that just ended (or are still going on) as a "success" or "failure" because the effects simply haven't had time to unfold yet. I would say we can only just now start to unpack everything that went on with, for instance, LBJ. It will be decades more before we fully understand the impact of the Smurfs.

It appears that Jim The Small Child Nephew already has a generation assigned to him: The New Silent Generation. Which... no. The child is a portable sonic boom in Cookie Monster sneakers. Can we wait until he understands that the kittycat does not like to go in the dryer before burdening him with generational expectations, please?

smurfette had a wicked wardrobe at: mb@blondechampagne.com


Attitude Amy said...

The second time I got into big trouble at school was during Show and Tell. Most people show but I decided to tell...a joke. Very risky at the time. This was pre-MTV movement. The joke was as follows:

"What do you call a Smurf when his pants fall down? A blue moon."

It was very controversial at the time. There were gasps, cries of shock and looks of horror from the teacher (mixed in with muffled giggles of children). They cancelled Show and Tell after that. I had finally made my mark in the world, and I did it before Madonna. I, at a tender age and in the 2nd grade was responsible for political change. Show and Tell was no more.

I don't think it is just some coincidence that soon after the events of 2nd grade, Madonna started making waves in the news. If anything, I would say the Smurfs had more of an impact on society than MTV. The Smurfs only had one woman, and she was rather scantily-clad. I'm certain that had a direct effect on the teen pregnancy rate, not to mention the STD's. Sheild your nephew's eyes the next time smurfette walks on screen. But, let him watch all the Real World he wants. I'm sure he'll turn out juuuuuuuust fine.

better get that itchy burning sensation checked out at your next doctor visit @attitudeamy.blogspot.com

Heh heh.

I thought we were the microwave generation or the information age?

MB said...

Nnnooooo... clearly, we're the "psychologically marred by Hanna-Barbara age."

I'm very proud of you.

mike the longterm reader said...

Hear, hear. I find generational assignments to be little more than sociological pseudo-science and intellectual ego-stroking. Especially in the link at the bottom of the post, which has some generational subdivisions lasting for as little as five years. Five years? That's not a generation! Say what you want about the frequency of teenage pregnancies, but I don't see too many five-year olds having kids. So as far as that goes, I think Josh's metric is right.

But the reason why "Generation X" was so named was, in part, because they had no historical event which defined them: no Gold Rush, no Depression, no World War. Thus, they had no real sociological identity. September 11 is the closest thing to a cultural paradigm shift we've had since Elvis and The Beatles, but even then, the difference in lifestyles amongst people born from 1976-1983 (who would all have been 18-25 years old on 9/11) is staggering.

As worthless as generational demarcations are given all that, that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the intergenerational intertwining you can see if you look hard enough. I know grandparents who use e-mail and cell phones; I also know teenagers who can hand-knit an afghan. This doesn't make Alfred and Mabel members of Generation Y or Tré and Brittany honorary Baby Boomers. It just means society has interwoven into so many layers that to single out a cross-section based solely on date of birth is quickly becoming a futile exercise in pointlessness.

So am I Generation X? Generation Y? Who the hell cares. I'm exactly three days younger than Jessica Simpson, and all I possibly care about is the hope that it's scientifically impossible to find a single similarity between us.

I think if we really try, we can find a more constructive use of our time than attempting to use one data point to try to define who we are. For example, posting on someone's blog at damn near 5 AM.

Anonymous said...

At 25, JTP may be past his most trainable years - those habits are here to stay - so perhaps you should look for someone a bit younger.

my kidz mom said...

ALL kids are portable sonic booms in Cookie Monster/Power Puff Girls sneakers! What dead-on insight. MB, you will make an awesome mom someday. Just remember the truth of the ol' biological clock. It knows whereof it ticks. You will need all the energy your "yoot" can muster.

Jcat2323 said...

History minor -because! I love it and I can relate to that. I have a Computer Science degree with a psychology minor. You can imagine the kind of questions I've been asked in interviews.

Jcat2323 said...

And on the smurfs: I officially felt old a couple years ago. I was babysitting a friend's kid who had eaten a blue popsicle. I remarked that she looked like she had kissed a smurf. I was met with a blank stare followed by "What's a smurf?" Nooooo! At least they still know who Scooby-Do is. And the Care Bears. Though my all time favorite She-ra (that's right, the Princess of Power, she kicked ass - in heels!), is still widely unknown. (Sniff.)

red pill junkie said...

I remember She-ra, she was hot!!

Gen X was widely used by MTV to portray grunge, so if you digged Nirvana or Soundgarden, you were a Gen-Xer.

I on the other hand, think it's better to label generations based on the first video-game console you owned. This way our dads are the PONG generation, I and all the 30-somethings are part of the ATARI generation, 20-somethings are the NINTENDO generation, and teenagers are the PLAYSTATION generation. See? it works!! ;-)

tamar said...

My parents were cheap (like me) :) so I am in my 20's but still a member of the Atari generation.

Remember when you could rent Nintendo's from the video store?

Russell The Reader said...

Studying Higher Education, as I do, we've learned that generational demarcations are more about personality and attitude than actual age/parentage.

The current "generation" of incoming college students (The Millennials) have overly-involved parents, prefer instant gratification, desire constant individual encouragement (participation ribbons anyone?), and generally expect the world to be handed to them on a silver platter in ten minutes or less. Even if you're 28 with this attitude, you'd still be a millennial. And if you're 15 and expect a corner office at 22 you're definitely one. Of course, that's just what my professors and their crazy research articles tell me. Research, bah.

MB said...

Russell... you've met some of my students, haven't you?

joshthepilot said...

Hey Anon, what habits are you talking about? None of my habits are mentioned in the post, so what are you referring to?

Russell the Reader said...

Dearest MB, not only have I met your students, if you taught here I would have admitted them and oriented them to the university...and that's the most frightening thing of all.

Anonymous said...

JTP, if you have to ask ... I am sure that MB could work up a short list of self-improvement goals for you.

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