A nice thought about today’s two youngest generations, from the Toronto Star, 20 June 2006.
It’s time for Gen X to start reminiscing about the good old days, as a new generation comes of age, by Jen Gerson
As useful as Generation X has been at popularizing piercing, caffeine addiction and a self-satisfied sense of superiority born out of a love for charity rock concerts, it’s about time it moved on to make room for the next beacons of youth culture — Generation Y.
It’s our turn. Remember when the Xers wanted to shove the baby boomers aside? Payback’s a bitch.
By now, we know who the Xers really are. And other than Molly Ringwald and sarcasm, what have they done for the world lately? Have you seen what they’re pumping out on cable?
Generation X became the moniker for yet another lost generation: the whiny, the entitled, and at first, the underemployed. The Xers remain loosely defined as the forgotten children born after the glut of baby boomers between 1965 and 1980.
Although their adulthood began in earnest with a great deal of railing against the boomers in lieu of their missed opportunities, soon their lives became like the TBS lineup: continuous episodes of Friends by day, Sex and the City by night.
As the first wave of Gen Xers start selling off their condos and moving into the suburb years, the next generation of tastemakers and trendsetters are coming of age. And while a plethora of aging academics and boomer naysayers have analyzed our Net, work and social habits ad nauseam, there’s no voice coming from inside to stake our claim, to say, “This is what makes us different.”
Give us time. Gen Y came immediately after the 1980s, and floats in its infancy. Gen Y is forming its identity apart from its generational older siblings. The Gen Xers are flailing in their attempts to maintain their domination of all things young and cool.
So while the line between the generations is still being drawn, how does one tell the two cohorts apart? For your convenience, it’s Gen X vs. Gen Y: A Spotter’s Guide.
CDs vs. MP3
The easiest way to spot a Gen Xer is to examine his dwelling. If upon entering, you spot a pristine CD rack stacked with 100 or more purchased albums with original artwork, you’ve stumbled upon the lair of someone who spent the ’90s in coffee shops, not public school.
Gen Yers came of age amid the Napster frenzy. File-friendly music is our domain, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely over the CD just yet. We just don’t buy new. In hunting Gen Yers, know that most have a soft-cover CD case. Look for the iPod, yes, but more telling is a mixed blank CD labelled with Sharpies.
Walkman vs. iPod
Remember when Sony was all the rage and Apple was a ragtag computer company with a cool commercial? Me neither. I’m on my second iPod.
While most Gen Xers — after finding that Walkmans break faster than Humpty Dumpty on crack — are migrating to the iPod, it is with a fond nostalgia for gadgets past. Transferring those walls of albums into MP3s is arduous work.
Nirvana vs. Eminem
They were edgy. They were raw. They challenged the mores of their time: Eminem with his crass lyrics, homophobia, sexism, racism, violence and gratuitous substance abuse; Kurt Cobain with heroin, angst and suicide. If you’re a Gen Xer, Kurt’s death marked the end of your youth. You mourned him and vowed to lay off the smack, hypothetically.
If you’re from Gen Y, you got in trouble for singing the lyrics to one of Eminem’s songs — yet probably still have trouble spelling the artist’s name. Within the next decade our most lovable misfit will either kill himself, or get killed in a hip-hop-gang-related shoot-out that will unite the urban music community against violence, bringing about the genre’s ultimate downfall.
Fall of the Berlin Wall vs. Sept. 11.
Every generation has its political awakening, a moment that will define its understanding of the world. This event should be significant enough to wake the masses from apathetic stupor and, at least for a week or two, inspire them to understand the world beyond their subdivision.
Generation Xers mark the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 as the symbolic end of the Cold War, in which the U.S. and its allies emerged as economic superpowers ready to lead the world into the new decade of freedom, McDonald’s and Nike.
Gen Yers were just coming of age when the twin towers fell. For us, it marked the end of the peaceful world, as we knew it.
Seinfeld vs. Survivor
If Seinfeld represented the peak of the sitcom, Survivor spelled the beginning of the end of TV as we knew it. Both employed Kafkaesque terminology in their marketing shticks. Seinfeld was the show about nothing. Survivor redefined reality by being a fictional show playing at reality, hence, “reality TV.” It would spawn a genre that would become increasingly surreal and boring. It’s post-post modernism vs. post-post-post modernism. We need a new term. Popopomo?
Pam vs. Paris
In his analysis of Pamela Anderson, Chuck Klosterman in Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs defined the now-aging bombshell as everything we love to hate about what we love. Big breasts, blonde hair, running on a beach. Simple, mindless sex.
Paris Hilton is Pam’s anorexic, shopaholic, generational equivalent. She is the person we hate to admit we wish we were. She is celebritum absurdium. You cannot ponder Hilton’s success without coming to Zen-like clarity on the nature of fame.
Whining vs. Blogging
While Xers would suffer through dead-end jobs (or unemployment) and whine about it over unadorned espresso, Yers get mediocre jobs and complain about them on blogs and MySpace — then get fired. This paradigm is known as a lack of ambition versus a lack of propriety.
Unlike their previous counterparts — who are content to embrace liberalism and blame the system for their lack of success — Yers may be reaching for the stars. They just don’t know when to shut up about it.
Atari vs. NES
The revolutionary graphics of Super Mario remain the domain of the Y Generation. Sorry, Xers. Be content with the impressive saga of 8-bit colour games that include Frogger, Space Invaders and Pac Man. The ones us younguns are playing on our cell phones.
Keep in mind, with its oldest members turning 24, Gen Y has only just begun to take over the world. Here’s hoping there will be something left of it to hand over to Generation Z.
Source: Toronto Star