Wednesday, January 8, 2014

There Is No Generation X

I didn’t have a meltdown the other day, and neither did Michael Bay. He was on my television for no good reason and for lots of money. Beneath my television sat a box of non-perishable food I was about to run over to the local Methodist Church. Bay’s teleprompter malfunctioned and so he stammered, failed to adlib, apologized, and walked away from the giant curved television he was supposed to pretend to like. Then I walked to the car to drive food out for the homeless
This is what we have in common.
Unless you like Beta Ray Bill.

The real news story is that CES has celebrities pitching 100-inch televisions that cost $5,000 on the same day that Obama arm-wrestled the Senate over unemployment benefits. This is one of the great examples of our union barely being united, and the notion of a “generation” being meaningless. It’s not about Haves and Have-Nots, which is a blisteringly false dichotomy. It’s about difficulty pretending we’re all one.

It pings off a recent screed that “Generation X is Tired of Your Bullshit.” As though there is a Generation X. Generation X has as many bullshit-producers and -profiteers as any previous generation – perhaps more, with technology and secularism providing more pulpits.

There is staggering disparity of experience among my generation, and more in the generation that followed. Some of the children I grew up with make six figures on Wall Street. Some can’t afford the internet and sleep in parks. Some are dead.

What does any generation have in common? Being born within a few of the same decades before life happened to them? Genes, economic background, religion, sex and gender and sexuality, and the experience of all those items is wildly disparate. Most of my generation doesn't know what it's liked to be pulled over at 2:00 AM for driving too nice a car, yet my generation contains both the profiled and the profilers. Half of Generations X and Y never opened a book last year, and more of Generations X and Y have published books than any in American history. These generations are in the Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party, Anonymous, political lobby firms, the unemployment line, the military, and the living room on X-Box Live.
The first non-ironic version of Ascent of Man you've seen in years.
We have this in common!
It’s beautiful and ugly and irreconcilable It’s why I can read Avarind Adiga while my brother watches Howard Stern clips on Youtube, both of us busy while my sister bakes cupcakes shaped like snowmen. That’s why Facebook walls are full of political memes that three people Like and eighteen people roll their eyes at and scroll past. That’s why the media says the media is lying. By disregarding the monolith, more people have opportunities at satisfaction. And more people means less in common.

If you’re waiting for me to say that I hate or love this, you’ll be disappointed. I experience both of those emotions towards this issue, and other emotions. It’s a complicated response that has changed and will likely change again. If I, one person, occupy so shifty a node on so obvious an issue, how are we supposed to pretend that New Yorkers, white people, Americans or Homo sapiens sapiens think one thing?


  1. Some serious polar opposites going there. No wonder we don't all see the same thing.
    Watched the Michael Bay clip. That was pathetic. Dude, you're a director. At the very least, you could talk about how your movies would look on that television.

  2. I have a theory (which is mine, and belongs to me) that the last generation defined by their birthdays was the baby boomers. And really they were defined by their parents, the Greatest Generation.

    And the Greatest Generation was defined because they were in a freaking world war.

    With no sweeping equaliser, like a world war, there is no defining generational era. And that leads to all they things you very astutely identified.

  3. Wonderful post. We don't all think the same thing, we can't all think the same thing. Which is good, and bad, and needs to be accepted. It just is.
    I am one of the last of the baby boomers, and my brothers among the first. And we are so very different. Chalk and cheese might be more similar. And I am sure that I am not alone.


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