Friday, January 29, 2016

CultureWatch: GenX, History's Latchkey Kids

So, a developing theme out there in the culture is this Baby Boomers vs. Millennials war. You've probably seen it floating around. It's the kind of thing journalists love to write about and more importantly, try to referee. Pretending they can arbitrate this new generation gap makes journalists feel important. Not much else does these days.

This apparent struggle has emerged as an issue in the workplace, with Boomer management expressing their frustration with Millennial work habits. Millennials in turn have shot back arguing that it was a lot easier to find and keep a job when the Boomers were coming up (in other words, before Globalism began systematically dismantling the middle class) and that life was easier and cheaper back then.  

Indeed, in the fictitious media construct known as the post-Recession recovery, the Baby Boomers were said to have "won" the great struggle in the job market, continuing to hold a larger proportion of plum gigs than their children. I'm not sure how this excuses some of the work habits- or the overall lack of preparation- managers complain about, but hey, it's not my fight.

Some in the media have tried to smooth over the conflict, assuring the two opposing generations that they're more alike than they think, with their idealism and all the rest of it. One study even highlights the two cohorts with the title, Two Special Generations: The Millennials and the Boomers.

As in "Hey everyone, don't fight. You're all in this together. You're all, you're all…special!"

And who gets left out of this equation- again? The not-so-special generation. History's latchkey kids, those born between 1965 and 1984, Generation X.

You know, the ones who had to fend for themselves while their parents were off finding themselves. The generation who were raised on TV dinners while their parents were off at TM class. The latchkey kids left at home while their parents went to key parties. 

The generation that grew up knowing all too well how much better it was for their parents and older siblings.

But it was also the generation that- for ever-so-brief a time- were at the cutting edge of technology and culture. If Generation X had a theme it was chafing at the arbitrary restrictions it saw in not only culture and business but the business of culture and the culture of business. So many of the innovations made in the workplace- that Millennials have come to expect- were put into place by Xers, who in turn were following maverick Boomers.

It was Generation X that embraced the Internet and became its first great wave of both users and entrepreneurs ( I mean, blogging?). So much is said now about video games and the power of the industry but it was Generation X that embraced the medium and became its pioneering engineers and programmers. Having seen the Oculus Rift webinar I can safely say that I didn't see anything shockingly unlike what I'd seen in gaming 20 years ago. Maybe more bells and whistles but the same basic chassis.

It was Generation X that got fed up with the music industry monopoly and built its own scenes- punk, metal, hip hop, jam bands, rave- often dealing with a lot of legal and criminal hassles to do so. The window would be open only a frightfully short time, but long enough to break down a lot of old ways of doing business.

Of course, no one realized that the music business itself was going to be written off as an expendable asset for the mass marketing of cellphones and other consumer electronics- a loss leader, if you will. Least of all, the Xers who thought they could carve out niches for themselves as independent musicians.*

But at the same time there's also a whole range of viable alternatives to corporate pabulum for listeners, and that came in large part out of the independent spirit of the 80s and 90s.

Generation X would make its mark on cinema with the Independent boom in the 1990s, and it would do so not by embracing high art but by reframing the junk culture that babysat it in its latchkey days; X auteurs would use pulp and teen trash as their medium, and in irony of ironies, be embraced by the same kinds of critics who wouldn't give the source material these filmmakers grew up on the time of day.

Which leads me to comics and superheroes. Everything we're seeing now, all the big hit movies and TV shows, owe all their success to the material that Generation X embraced and/or created in the 80s and 90s. There hasn't been anything truly original done of any real thematic significance since that incredibly fertile period. 

All the storytelling conventions we're seeing now were established then. Not during the so-called Silver or Bronze Age and not in the past 20 years either.

And that was also a period when you saw a lot of self-publishing, a lot of self-starting on the retail end. But it would be- and to a shocking extent it remains- Generation X who embraced and supported and militated for that work. Many of them would go on to work in the film and TV industry and fight to get this kind of work on the screen.

I could go on, I mean there's a lot more besides, but you get the picture.

So why do the media care so little about Generation X? Why does all of this seem to be forgotten all of a sudden? Most of what we see are pity stories, despite the fact that many of these writers are themselves Xers. 

Well, maybe it's because of that independent streak, that rebellious nature that formed the Xer stereotype. While you can't generalize about 60+ million people, Generation Xers do tend to be more skeptical of government and authority than Boomers and most certainly more so than the Millennials. 

That tendency towards autonomy is not something that people in power much care for; look no further than the small business tax codes. Hell, look at everything everywhere these days. Autonomy and independent thinking don't seem to be on the menu, do they?

Millennials can't be stereotyped either, but we are seeing many of them embrace all kinds of trends and technologies that are inhibiting personal freedom, individuality, independent thinking and maybe worst of all, complexity. Maybe some of these Millennials-- a vanguard, if you will-- would argue that these are necessary sacrifices, that it's all leading to a more fair and just society. 

To which I'd argue to them, are you sure about that? I mean are you certain?

It's a hell of a thing to be wrong about. Have there ever been any examples were people are lured into giving something- or perhaps, everything- up in exchange for some promised better thing that in fact never actually arrives or comes true?

Or in fact what arrives is actually the opposite of what was expected or promised? Seems to me history may have a few examples of this. Quite a few, if I'm not mistaken.**

Something to ponder.

I'll end this by advising everyone to not count Generation X out yet. You're talking a cohort that grew up with diminished expectations already and has already dealt with two major economic downturns in the adult lives of its senior members. And a cohort whose vanguard made their mark by rewriting the plans laid out for them to their own liking, or at least tried. It may still have a few tricks left up its collective sleeve.

UPDATE: This is interesting.

In this light, it strikes me following in the wake of David Bowie's death how Boomers made him a star but in fact it was Xers who made him a superstar. Bowie would shift his alliance from the Boomers he came up to the Xers who adopted him as their own- a move personified in the tour he did with Nine Inch Nails in 1995 and would later concretize with BowieNet, his dotcom boom-era online service.

**  In fact, Generation X was out in front with the whole campus identity politics movement 25 years or so ago only to find themselves on the wrong end of a major backlash. Already we're seeing history repeat, only there won't be a booming job market to escape into when the reaction sets in. It seriously frightens me to consider what could happen in this dangerously polarized country in the event of a major economic downdraft.


  1. As a Gen-Xer, I have to say Thank you. :)

    Seems like I, and *we* have been written off and regarded as disposable for my whole life, but it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings.

    I know my distrust - not to say *contempt* - for authority rises from being abused, neglected, and lied to by a whole host of people I was supposed to be able to trust. I assume that a lot of Gen-Xers can say the same.

    For the worthless Boomers and feckless Millenials: ain't nobody beaten me yet. What didn't kill me has made me strong. Anna is Undefeated, and you'd best get out of my way. :)

    1. Well, I wouldn't call entire generations worthless or feckless. I think it's all down to the individual. But is individuality going to survive in the years to come?

    2. I do tend to speak to "let the Shoe fit". Perhaps I'm too harsh, but I've learned not to show weakness on the 'net.

      Sometimes I wonder about individuality as well. So many example of group-think and wanting me to get with "the Program". I never seem to be able to fit the groups or follow their Programs.

    3. And we wouldn't want you, and cannot imagine you, any other way Anna!

  2. millennials can't picture a world without mobiles. mobiles and the way the net work now have crystallized into mono-cultures, self re-enforcing grooves that people snap into. We are on re-sold what we already think we want, like those ad's for socks that pop up AFTER one buys a pair on the net. Novelty is not on the menu. It is all grades of porn. Food porn, Car Porn, NFL porn, Cosplay Porn, Journalism porn...

    A sense privacy is the other casualty of the present generation. We could get up to a lot of trouble without getting into trouble back in the day. Now normal human freak outs or misunderstandings that would be forgotten within a week in 1985 can result in 10% of the population shaming and tut-tutting their fellow humans. Kind of a digital medievalism. The good stories and twice told tales are replaced by horrible, horrible viral videos.

    1. Well, I think a lot of Xers have buyers remorse vis a vis the Internet and connectivity and all the rest. I know a lot of important Internet pioneers are not happy with where its all headed. What will stop it, I don't know. Was it all a con? Did ol' Tim Leary sell us a bill of goods yet again?

    2. Couldn't agree more. On that note, saw a great definition of FB the other day: How through a self-presentation based on preening and posturing, one sort of pledges allegiance to the inner emptiness that today's workplace, culture and social politics demand.

      An unlikely voice which, I find, totally captures the GenX perspective - of views and outlooks so utterly "normal" and healthy, yet systematically wiped out post-2000, is Fionola Meredith's column in the Belfast Telegraph. Do check it out. Highly recommended. You will find yourself wondering, "why does someone even need to say this stuff; it's so obvious?", and then realizing, "because these are postcards from a state of mind that is now very nearly extinct!"

  3. Not to generalise, but Boomers are Analogue, Millennial are digital, and Xers are Liminal. We straddle both worlds. Hence the fertility and creativity. But also the rebelliousness. We're young enough to be embracing of new tech and new contexts, but old enough to be pre - digital. Old enough to recognise the gulf between the potential we felt then and the reality we're faced with now. We can remember just how badly we got fucked. The nineties was our sixties in a way. We invented liminality. We invented fluidity and postmodernism. You're welcome. :) Obviously not really, but a useful perspective I think. We Xers can see the hubris, the blindspots. To some degree, for millennial who only know an online, iPad, social media world the System IS the truth. It has to be. Representation then doesn't just record experience, it BECOMES experience. The line between the system and the personal blurs, vanishes even. How can you fight Google, iTunes and Facebook when you ARE Google, iTunes and Facebook? But Xers? You'll have to pry our liminality from our cold dead hands. The kids don't get it. I'm not a gangster. I'm a blackstar. *drops mic* :)

    1. This post, in a way, is the Generation X Files. I like that.

    2. That's awesome, Raj. XD

      "The Generation X-Files". I can rock a blazer & skirt, like Scully. XD

    3. I feel you there RaJ. I was born in October 1964, so I've got the added complication of straddling both generations. My kids are millennials and my wife is an Xer; that, and returning to school has allowed me the luxury of surfing my own generational wave. These days I spend my time with a pretty diverse crowd; age-wise and otherwise.

    4. Spot on Raj. "Old enough to recognise the gulf between the potential we felt then and the reality we're faced with now. We can remember just how badly we got fucked." Seriously, not a day goes by anymore that I don't bear that thought in mind.

      Thank you Chris for another stellar post.

    5. As always, thank you Raj for your keen insights. Interesting that the 90s were our 60s but kind of in reverse. It started off with unrest and economic recession and ended with neo-Camelot and Cool UK. Funny how that worked out. Then of course it all came down around our ears.

    6. Brilliant observations, Raj. I actually sent them to myself via email (so 90s, huh). Seriously, you put a finger on many things I have only sensed or accidentally observed up till now. Our GenX still has a sense of what is real, and what isn't.

  4. No. I reject this absolutely.

    This kind of generational-ism is untrue and unhelpful. It serves no purpose but to feed the media machine who's stories you start your piece by vilifying. It separates people based on when they were born and creates schism in a society that's already so divided that it's practically unable to function.

    When I was younger, I heard the same stories: we did this and that and the other, our parents never got it, you kids don't appreciate it. Now "you kids" are us and we're starting to parrot the same tired talking points. What a waste.

    Sure, that "we protested the war, we changed the world... what do you kids know?" rhetoric was pretty damned tiresome. But I refuse to continue the cycle.

    Boomers, your wisdom and experience has value. Millenials, your energy and enthusiasm is refreshing. Let's all rise up, together, and topple the tables, tear aside the curtains, shake the foundations. We need each other. United we stand, divided is exactly what the powers that be want from us.

    I've said enough.

    1. Things seem to be functioning. If you gots internets and a computarz to make posts with, seems to me there is a house or apartment with food and clothing and electricity attached to it. Someone is doing something on a functional level.

      Now you kids get off my lawn before I call the police. I would tell your parents, but they are younger than me which means they are idiots who don't keep their lawn mowed to HOA standards. I mean, of course they are degenerates, look at you unbehaved kids playing on my lawn. Why aren't you studying for the future?

    2. I agree with your sentiment, Ivy, but nonetheless I feel these are useful ideas and thought experiments to make. Insight and wisdom can be gained from viewing generational differences in such ways. It doesn't mean we're disregarding entire generations. There are clearly differences in mindset depending on when you were born. How could there not be? It doesn't make analysis of such differences exclusionist or derogatory. In my opinion. :)

    3. I'm glad someone else said it. I got my hand bitten off pretty hard last time I disagreed.

      But I fuckin' love Generation X. They produced everything that is foundational to my Millennial way of thinking: individuality, suspicion, alternativism in general. But the thing about posts like this and others in the media is that it's confirmation bias and hindsight being 20/20.

      Oh, millennials have a terrible work ethic? I wonder who they inherited that from... couldn't possibly be Generation X, could it? And did their "terrible work ethic" come because they were lazy and just wanted to watch Scooby Doo? Or is it because they recognized a flawed and unmotivating system for what it is? Is it possible that Millennials feel the crushing weight and seemed-to-be-engineered-to-create hopelessness of the system? Who does shouting at Millennials for all their supposed short comings benefit? Them? Or the same structures that Generation X worked to dismantle? Don't forget that Slackers is a Generation X themed movie for a reason.

      Millennials are having to deal with the worst possible world: collapse lingering at the edges of the world, and everyone who came before just wants to talk about how much hell we'll have to pay because we won't have phones and computers. What? Shouldn't we all be equally directing our ire at the Boomers that laid the foundations of this crumbling world? Or shouldn't we collectively realize, "Well, fuck, you guys are only 50, and the youngest of ours aren't even out of grade school... maybe we should do something about this, or you'll be old people dying in a terrible world, and we'll be young people dying way too early."

      I feel like in 20 years, Millennials will have a reputation for being bootstrappers: all the pre-existing structures loved to hate on us, and government and business being indifferent to the suffering they create, it's either do or die. Either we won't be around to observe the changes that didn't happen, or the world will be in a recovery room of our making.

      Additionally, we have the benefit of being 50 years away from the first Generation X-er and seeing what that amount of development offers up whereas the oldest Millennials are barely 30, barely starting to even be eligible to impact the world of the media and politics. Much like how my Generation X father used to ask, "Why is the world so eager to count us out?" I have to ask, "Why are X-ers so eager to count us out?"

    4. @Hawk - I personally am not faulting Millennials about "work ethic", what *I* am saying is that I have experienced disdain, dismissal, and Dehumanizing insults from many Millennials.

      If Y'all want to change the world, then as a generation, you might want to change your behaviors.

      And, just to forestall the endless B.S. of "Not All" (sigh) ~ if *you* aren't Dehumanizing others, then I'm not talking about you.

    5. Personally, I don't have anything against Boomers or Millennials. I mean, I couldn't give a flying f*ck what age you are, what gender, what colour, what sexual orientation. Either you're a prick or you're basically alright, right? I mean to say, being an asshole is omnidirectional - it transgresses politics, creed and any other labels you care to mention. But there is definitely truth in what Chris writes here. But we've all inherited a fallen, ruined world, yo. If you're alive, and I'm assuming most people reading this blog are, then you're in the world. I don't identify as an Xer. I don't even identify as a black guy, though that's how I'm identified by everyone around me. It's worth exploring though, even though it's not my own identity. So labels aren't really my thing. But fearless musing and speculation on what makes us the same and what makes us different - I'm all about that shit. I'm not gonna speak for Chris, but it seems to me that he's interested in the same thing. Insight. Wisdom. So, Hawk, I for one am not counting you out. Or any Millennials, or Boomers. It's gonna take all of us to save the world. Freedom, baby. I done learned it from the Olders and the Youngers. :)

    6. Horns, your stereotypes (ironic, self-mocking stereotypes, I might add) about GenX come from feature films and TV shows, enterprises that involve thousands of hours of labor, not from Tumblr pages or Tweets. There was an explosion of creative work in the 90s- novels, feature films, records, zines, comics- that belie the stereotype. As to the rest of it, where are you getting this from? Certainly nothing I actually wrote about. I'm not even going to address any of these points you raise because they have absolutely nothing to do with what I actually wrote.

    7. Ivy, I'll say the same to you. Deal with what I actually wrote, not what you think I might be writing in regards to something someone else may have written. I resent your accusations about me allegedly "vilifying" someone and would ask that you rescind that statement if you want to continue commenting here.

    8. I understand that Slackers takes thousands of hours to produce, but my point was that it was obviously how the world around you saw you, and now the same kind of propaganda is being spread about the next generation, and the people you'd hope would be the least susceptible to it have a deep sense of schadenfreude in response. That's not in reference to you per se, but some of my literary and artistic heroes (almost all being X-ers) will talk in grand poetic imagery, but then when you bring up the millennials, the vitriol in their voice is palpable.

      You said, "I'm not sure how this excuses some of the work habits- or the overall lack of preparation- managers complain about, but hey, it's not my fight." while linking to (yet) another article talking about how lazy and unmotivated Millennials are. You say you're familiar with Strauss and Howe's work, but you must have skimmed the part where they painstakingly show the smear campaign brought against X-ers through the media. And it's the same thing again.

      And things like this, "Millennials can't be stereotyped either, but we are seeing many of them embrace all kinds of trends and technologies that are inhibiting personal freedom, individuality, independent thinking and maybe worst of all, complexity," I can only surmise are references to half-baked news stories cooked to make us seem like overly sensitive handwringing mother hens, when in reality things like the Vagina Monologues getting pulled was so that another *more liberal* play could be put in its place. In other words, the Vagina Monologues was too conservative. Or when you hear bout campuses kicking the press out: it's because the press in those areas intentionally misrepresents the facts - a staple industry of this blog in fact: highlighting where the media misinforms and misrepresents.

      And this: "Horns, your stereotypes (ironic, self-mocking stereotypes, I might add) about GenX come from feature films and TV shows, enterprises that involve thousands of hours of labor, not from Tumblr pages or Tweets," no duh it's not a tweet? I'm not even sure what the point there is. I've never sent a tweet (nor have I tumbled), but the difference is pretty blatant... so I'm not even sure why it's a necessary thing to be brought up. Absolutely propaganda has hours invested in it, even when that propaganda is garbage news.

      Last thing I'll say: when I listen to my Gen-X idols talk about the future they envision, it overlaps in an uncanny number of ways (i.e., almost entirely) as the vision I share, and which I see commonly expressed by others my age (which, for what it's worth, my "terrible work ethic" has landed me a family, a child, and a home that I own). Why, then, are Millennials seen as the enemy in all this? It really looks like Gen X and Y are meant to rule, and repair, the world together.

    9. Interesting. OK, you said: "It's the kind of thing journalists love to write about and more importantly, try to referee. Pretending they can arbitrate this new generation gap makes journalists feel important. Not much else does these days."

      I apologize that I read this as vilifying. I happen to think that a lot of modern media is worthy of some vilification and therefore don't want to play into their generation this versus generation that rhetoric.

      But you're right, I shouldn't assume you feel the same way about journalists. I hereby rescind my statement that you were vilifying their stories.

    10. That was by no means a vilification. That was an observation on the tenuous nature of professional journalism in the age of the Internet, a story that's nearing a crisis point for many people in the business. Professional journalists are becoming marginalized for better or worse which is why we're seeing these kinds of behaviors.

    11. Slackers was a film made about a certain subset of Bohemians on the Austin scene, not by "the outside world" but by an insider, who intentionally made a fictional narrative the strangest and most unusual characters he could imagine to make an entertaining film. It had absolutely nothing to do with anything outside that world. Certainly nothing in my experience. It wasn't until the film was released that the term even gained any currency at all. It certainly didn't apply to the people I know and the scenes I was a part of. As to the rest of it, I can't control what's going on out there in the business world. I'm simply reporting on an ongoing conflict that exists whether you think it's fair or not. If you have a problem with anything I wrote I invite you to write about it on your own blog.

    12. And to reiterate, this isn't about Millennials. Yet again, we can't even discuss Generation X's issues, not even on a post about them. Doesn't that just prove my thesis?

    13. XD Just what I've been thinking & saying. Just dismiss Gen-X, Y'all, cos we gotta rush to the Barricades to defend Millennials.

  5. The Who "My Generation"
    Generation X "Your Generation"
    Sham 69 "Whose Generation?"

  6. I'm sorry you feel that way Ivy.

    My perspective is simply that the Boomers
    *and* the Millennials both feel free to treat me with contempt, disinterest, and disdain.

    I am unwilling to be treated in *any* was that devalues me as a human being. If others don't like that, then that's their problem.

    1. Ah, you just summed Generation X's lament...

  7. As someone who cut his early internet teeth on alt.society.generation-x (Go Team '67!), this is close to home.

    I've noticed independently that Millennials tend to make excellent 'curators' but weak 'creators'. You'll meet someone who can name every single obscure Sun Ra or Big Bill Broonzy album, for example, but it's never occurred to them to pick up a guitar and seriously try to make a music of their own.

    The impulse to create something of their own, generationally, just isn't present.

    A few years ago I took to calling them 'the Mudlark Generation'. Picking through the cultural detritus left behind by the receding waters seems to be their essential character (for whatever reason).

    1. Well, the Curator mentality is what really drove me away from Clash fandom- hearing these kids who weren't even born when the band broke up lecture me as to the meaning of it all was particularly insufferable given that their entire knowledge of the band was based in the ridiculous mythology concocted by the record company and management. It is a very positive thing to have a curator generation- things need to kept alive and cared for- but it most definitely has its limitations. Facts are distorted by the passage of time and a lot of historically important things that are no longer fashionable are brushed aside.

  8. You familiar with Strauss and Howe's generational theory? It says almost exactly what you're saying here - we go through cycles of generations throughout American histry. Generation X is reactive (like the Lost Generation before us) - lots of cultural importance early on, then become largely invisible, self-sacrificing elders.

    I was really into their book Generations when I was in college in the 90's - so much so I actually shot a feature film heavily influenced by it.

    1. I am familiar with their work and it was on my mind while writing this, absolutely. The funny thing is that the way the marketeers tried to reach GenX was so absurd and obnoxious I prefer invisibility. Remember OK Cola? What was the film by the way?

    2. Speaking of advertising, boomers should know that X has been in the shadow of their targeted advertising for our entire lives. I'd get into what that means, but I've got to make sure the moment is right.

    3. Oh, I absolutely remember shameless Gen X marketing. OK Cola (at least they gave Clowes and Burns some work) and Bud Dry.

      The movie was called "Earth on Fire." Basically Christ figure wanders around the Inland Empire gathering followers and preaching about generational dynamics. Not my best idea, but seemed really deep when I was 22.

  9. OK, let's see if I can't make my position more clear RE:Millennials.

    Not withstanding that many Millennials sling the hate speech as well as any old duffer, my real problem is the needyness, the dependency they often show. For LGBTs, we often have to make a new "Family of Choice" after we come out and our old fam & friends drop us. (This is one reason why Chris Claremont's "X-Men" comics were so popular with LGBTs, the X-Men are a family-of-choice). I've gathered a few around me, and a few of the youngers *really* needed a Tough Big Sister. Anna is tough, and Anna loves her girls dearly.

    But they were very needy, very dependent, and very *un*-available when tough Anna needed a friend, a hug, a shoulder to cry on.

    I finally had to tell my Girls that I needed a break, a little time to rest. One respected that, and the other - a 30+ year-old Bi woman - hasn't talked to me since. Since April of '15.

    So, that's my perspective on Millennials.

    1. It's true, those ties can be awful tenuous. You find out as you get older how many people you thought you could count on actually weren't so much. It's why more permanent bonds were so important in the first place. It will be interesting to see how it evolves as society changes.

    2. I guess what gets me too is that none of them, fam, friends, or dates, even thought I was worth a "goodbye".

      When I last broke off a long-term relationship, I told them why-&-bye, at least.

    3. The worst part is, the person who didn't bother to say goodbye may not even have had a malicious intent: That's how STARK the Millennial communication is. Almost like a computer command: Information received; transmission ended. If something, no matter how trivial, is 'done' in MY mind, and is no longer affecting ME, then who cares how it affects someone else -- that is the sentiment.

      I try to be a positive and generous presence in my 23yo nephew's life. But whatever I do, buy or organize for him, it always ends then and there. I don't expect servitude or hand-written thank-you notes. But it would totally make my day if once in a blue moon I received a text from him (especially as he's glued to his iPhone 24/7) saying "the shoes we bought are really comfortable", "love the new power bank", or "that was a great restaurant last night". I just want to know he's happy and satisfied and enjoying himself. But nope; no chance; ain't gonna happen. Whatever for: gift received; let's move on. Instant gratification coupled with amnesia.

  10. Raj nailed it. Gen X-Files.

    Which makes me think - those two psychic kids in episode two (no spoilers but, hey, if you're reading this comment on this blog, you've already seen the X-Files) - those two kids, could they be part of that metaphor, maybe it's a stretch - seeing them as sort of 'against the adults', but yea, that's pretty tenuous.

    Chris, great article. I'll have more to say, but I want to share this with you asap since, well, I've been reading your blog more and more and I can see you're one of the right people to make this connection with so that you can make your own connections, and hopefully, share them either here or somewhere -

    What do you make of this -

  11. I don't know what to make of it, to be honest. It's very dangerous to make predictions on dates and such because you never know what is signal and what is noise. And as Bob Marley said it can be very dangerous to prophesy with numerology "because numbers are forever."

  12. I dunno. If I were going to offer Gen-X Anna's Advice on How to Live, it would be:

    1. Don't treat people like crap
    2. Don't people treat *you* like crap
    3. Take action with your life
    4. Learn to be alone
    5. Learn to get along with others
    6. Question authority and "received wisdom".
    7. Be true to yourself and honest with others.

    There isn't anything particularly profound about any of this, but from the amount of people that expect Mama Anna to fix shit for them....

    1. It may not sound profound to you. But to someone who has never heard it before, it can be earth shattering. I've touched a time or two on standardized testing in my writings over at synchrowhathaveu whatchacallitmysticism forums, and it's the progress and education that the upper classes take for granted that are causing any and all slumps educationally and developmentally anywhere in the already developed world.

      Just remember that any information you personally take for granted, someone somewhere in the world could use a tutor. Write it down. Share it. Pass it on. Pay it forward.

    2. Hey Apollyon, thank you. :)

      I'll try and remember what you said. It is so good to learn from and teach things with other people.

    3. :)
      You are teaching me to learn.

  13. I'm liking the video. :)

    A quote: "X-ers resist the Collective, in any way". I agree. I'm a loner, an individual. Perhaps that's what I find annoying about Boomers & Millennials - they seem to *love* all that "We" stuff. Their mindsets, their groups, their stuffs are just not what I want.

    They can be the Borg, I'll be Picard. XD

    1. Or "they can be Locutus, I'll be Picard."

      Oh my God, I can't believe I just said that.

    2. XD No wonder we get along!

      Actually, I have Sisko's temper and Troi's fashion sense. :)

  14. You might be interested in this upcoming series from National Geographic:

    1. Ha! Well, timing is everything, isn't it?

  15. Thank you for this post! Gen-X chiming in here. I remember listening to techno from Berlin (the city, not the band -- maybe now an ambiguity only a Gen-X would need to clarify), having to know a little bit of Unix to log on to the UC campus computer to IRC with a friend in Pennsylvania. The future felt like it was coming, liminal as someone said above, and that it would be beautiful, an adventure into connecting people with music and dance and a new urban culture. But what the hell happened to that future? Was it the gold rush atmosphere into internet-based companies? I was in San Francisco when the dot-bomb hit in 2000-2001. Then it was as if things like Chris mentions -- VR, the Walkman, some other 80s-90s technological fetish items -- disappeared, were mind-wiped from the younger generation, then alter re-introduced to incredible fanfare in a digital medium. I had a discussion with my 19 year old son the other day about why I think IPods and the rest are just not special -- just a lighter Walkman that holds more songs. The expression of horror on his face was unfathomable to me. He truly did not understand why I did not think having 11-billion songs at hand was just not that special. He bought himself some sort of VR mask so you can strap your phone to your head (not Occulus, a competitor). What kind of radiation does that produce, really? I look upon this with un-augmented Gen X eyes and deep suspicion of where this is taking us. Where is the self-awareness of "you look like an idiot with that thing strapped to your head?" Any one of those kids from "The Breakfast Club" would have called that out immediately and subjected such a person to the appropriate scorn and ridicule. Have we lost that self-awareness, too?

    On the other side of the equation, due to the phenomenal stock market crashes and low-interest rate wealth destruction we continue to endure, Boomers continue to cling and cling and cling to the work world. And they continue to elect people based on some sort of gooey blind trust in "this time the 'hope and change' is for real." Of course, this hope and change is freighted with amazingly bad economic understanding that also works as a sort of tax on themselves and rest of us for their failure to really learn how the math of pies and pie slices works. Unfortunately, Millennials also don't know math that well and the word "demagogue" is hard to spell and not part of Common Core. So, again, we are stuck in the middle. Dealing with this s***. Locking the door when we come home. But the TV is not our comfort or babysitter anymore. We turned that thing off long ago. But we think. And we read. Thanks, Chris for always giving us more to think and read about.

    1. All very well put, Frater. of course, I love my iPod but it's just a question of convenience. Maybe all this convenience makes us care less. I seem to remember caring more once upon a time. The Baby Boomers- you gotta hand it to them. They knew their power and they used it and continue to. No one else seems to be able to manage it. We're still pretending technology is going to solve our problems and letting the old bonds that kept shit together fall away, pretending the problems will magically solve themselves. I guess Xers are the least likely to believe that sort of thing. Which makes them hard to market to. Which is really what it all boils down to,

  16. Late again commenting, as usual. I'm an X-er, born in 1969. I tried the loner thing and it just wasn't healthy for me (literally.....the more alone I made myself, the more health issues cropped up). I was not a latch key kid either though, my father worked and my mother stayed home until I was about 13 or 14. It's interesting, because with many of my friends that wasn't the case. Many of them had step parents, my parents are still married and have never been with anyone else (aside from a couple of boy friends for my mom back in the late 50's, but those days everything was pretty platonic..well, for my mom anyway).

    So I always felt more like a boomer than an Xer. Always felt I should have come of age in the 60's, not the 80's and 90's. Of course, that can be chalked up to the lack of trust in authority and "go your own way" mentality so many of us had/have. Of course now I look on the world the we and the boomers have created with horror. We aren't blameless of course, because many Xer's, including me, cut ourselves off from the real world to immerse ourselves in personal exploration and discovery. When I came up for air and started looking around and paying attention to the outside world, it was already 1997 and "the good ol' days" were just about to end.

    I try to keep myself from becoming the adult that I didn't trust in my younger days. I always felt that the biggest problem with the world and nation was that young people weren't given enough of a voice, weren't taken seriously, largely because they didn't have the wisdom that years bring. Now I have (some) of that, and I hate it when I shake my head at the behaviors of current young people. Change is hard, but I try to embrace it where it makes sense to (I finally got a cell phone last year, first one ever).

    So yeah, good post and great comments. You and Gorden seem to have cornered the market on great blog commenters :-)

  17. Love the post. You would have to be an X-er to write it, because no other group would give a shit! ;)
    It makes me think about The Lost Generation, around the world wars, and reading those lists of significant people in history, and how there were basically none,( and no USA Presidents?) from this generation.
    I agree with Horns that the Millennials work ethic thing is partly made up, and partly a knock on effect from watching and learning from 'us X-ers'.
    Lots of us were told if we played the game, we could get all the Boomers had. I came late to the party, so I only bought this briefly, but this is true of most X-ers. The Millennials, it seems, are a bit more, " Dude, I still live with my parents. If you don't like it, fire me!"
    Sweeping generallisations here, but because I am an '81 drop, I know a few. Their defiance is more Ghandi than Gnostic, at times.

  18. I dunno, I guess you can draw those lines pretty deeply in the sand from each camp of Boomers, Xers, and Millennials, but I never felt much connection with any of it. I was born in 1961 but it seems many of my age group was marginalized between groups that identify strongly with those prototypes. I can't honestly say that I feel overly dramatic about anyone's particular zeitgeist, yet I can appreciate the different points of view and I can see why you would feel the way you do. I was also a military brat growing up abroad on bases in foreign soil during the hottest period of the Cold War, so that in itself opens up another unique category if you are looking to fill slots and tick boxes next to. From that viewpoint, I would look at *all* of you as either civilian kids or kids from The Fortress, with that distinction being the higher order of social reference. It still, after all these years, colors my worldview because of it, but that being said---I still can't help but see it from a bigger, larger picture these so-called lines of demarcation that gives the appearance of separation, but are just degrees of progression. I mean, I don't hate Millennial's because of their different work ethics or dislike Xers because they loved Punk Rock or vote one way or the other. It's just where you happen to be as your consciousness developed at that particular point in time, you had certain advantages and disadvantages unique to your experience that shaped and formed your outlook because you shared a similar place in that time. As I continue to stumble into my dotage, I feel less and less concerned with what makes us different and more to the point of what we all share. And as critical as you can be with the differences between us, you can be just as critical with the similarities if you care to flip the perspective lens. I think I will choose to love the mysteries and celebrate the diversity rather than goosestep to the beat of my own droning anthem that I tote around like a float in the Rose Bowl parade. Love you guys---excellent commentary and amazing blog, Chris. Appreciate all the things you do and share.