I have one critique of your generation which you seem to point to in the first part of your article. Your generation more than any other seems to view life in an either or sort of way. For example, you are either unique or you are
“ A functioning cog in some great machinery
Serving something beyond me.”
My generation, in general, thought of ourselves as unique functioning cogs. No two of us are exactly the same hence unique. We all have something to contribute to the something bigger than ourselves. I have worked in management for a long time and one thing I learned is that each of my staff that is worth keeping, all has to have/learn the skills necessary to do their jobs competently, but each staff also brings their own unique personality, perspectives, and ideas to their job. The combination of the unique parts are the difference between a good crew and a great crew.
Football provides us with an excellent example of this. There are often teams that pull in a lot of big name stars during the off-season. These teams look excellent on paper but perform moderate to poor at best. Since Jimmy Johnson was their coach the Cowboys have struggled to make the playoffs despite pulling in quality talent. They have competence at a lot of positions, they look good on paper, they are predicted to succeed but struggle because they do not have the intangibles.
In this age of Science the intangibles that are difficult or impossible to measure seem to get overlooked or poked fun at.