Thursday, January 12, 2017

Generation X to Major Millennial

Dear Millennials:

GenX here. Hi.

First of all, it's "millennials" with two ls and two ns. Whether you're a member of the demographic or a smug-ass critic of it, learn to spell it correctly. Because the surest way for any generation to be defined as ignorant is to demonstrate ignorance. The internet didn't exist until I was in my 20s, but I still remember the burning shame of having a respected professor correct my spelling of "millennium" on a test. Now, when you spell it incorrectly, 20 million people see it online.

Talkin' 'bout your generation.

Millennials, here's what I'd like to tell you, honestly and sincerely. I realize my generation invented cloying, annoying irony, but I'm pushing 50 now, so I can be cranky and candid.

I've read with interest the various media assessments of you millennials. Namely, that you're "slackers." That you "live in your parents' basement." That you "have no social conscience" and "care only about yourselves." That you're only interested in "casual sex and casual drugs" and lack interest in "having a family" and "creating a legacy."

Those assessments make me feel so fucking young. They're exactly the same judgments passed upon me and my fellow GenXers back in the 90s. The Baby Boomers - born in the 40s and 50s, fired in the crucible of post-WWII prosperity and moral certitude - thought that we would bring about the ruination of the great US of A. Because of birth control and grunge and social activism and all that crap that the Boomers fervently believed had become irrelevant once they started to have prostate troubles  and 401(k) payments to keep up with.

We just wanted to embrace social conscience and apron dresses and straight hair. Not because we represented the dregs of American freedoms, but because we longed for an alternative to Vietnamization and Reaganomics. Even if it was flawed, we wanted to vote for someone who represented us.

That's why I voted for Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, AND Ralph Nader between 1992 and 2000.

And now GenX has become middle-aged. Some of us have retained our youthful ideas of equality and socioeconomic autonomy. Some have drunk the Kool-Aid of "game the system to your personal advantage and screw the rest of America."

In other words, we've become a generation of fragmented ideals and diverse expectations. Almost like a real American demographic not defined by media-friendly labels.

Crazy, right?

So here I am, at the grand old age of 48. White, middle-class, divorced, left-leaning, active voter.

I wish I could divorce all of my generational peers in the same way..

But I can't.

Because people who graduated from high school with me are not all white, not all middle-class. Some are single, some divorced, some celebrating decades of marriage. Certainly we cover the political spectrum, from damn far left to damn far right. And some simply want to turn up their headphones and forget about politics altogether.

We are all GenX, by virtue of our birth. But that's where the similarities end.

Amazing, huh?

I give millennials the same benefit of the doubt. Because I know what it's like to be unfairly categorized as one thing when the truth is entirely another thing.

GenX is now middle-aged. For some that means financial security and social complacency, for others it means fighting to gain a place in a crowded society that wants us dead and irrelevant.

I would love to be a suburban homeowner who cares about property taxes and whether Christmas decorations follow societal norms.

Some of my peers are just that. Good for them.

Others aren't.

I count myself among the aren't. I was a suburban homeowner for 20 years but now am an apartment-dwelling single parent trying to get her daughter into a good university, preferably not on my dime.

GenX is not one thing, you see.

And I believe millennials are not one thing.

Generations are made up of people, not easily classified sheep.

I'm not sure how GenX - the generation of supposedly woke people - forgot that.

I guess every generation eventually becomes old and complacent.

Yes, even millennials will face the same fate.

Just warning you guys.

This GenXer plans to remain an unreasonable idealistic post-hippie until death. Just saying. I acknowledge that some of my peers voted for Trump and oppose gay marriage.

I am who I am. who you are. Through middle age and beyond. If you can grow older without drinking the Kool-Aid of social norms, you can be proud of your generation.

Or you can obsess over fractional points in the financial markets and preserving centuries-old societal conventions.

It's up to you.

This Generation X person has made her choice.

Make yours, millennials.

I love you.


  1. As a fellow GenXer I feel there’s a profound revelation in this. Our ideas, beliefs, and positions change over the course of our lives. No community is monolithic because every community is composed of individual, and as individuals we all contain multitudes.


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