Let’s talk about generations. A generation is a vast social enclosure that sets limits on where you can go, what you can say/do, establishes guidelines for behavior in all contexts, and the like. Think of it like pinball. You are the ball and you are free to roam about within the confines of the machine (your generation). There will be instances where you are forcibly hurled into some circumstance, by way of a cantankerous active bumper or a heedless flipper stroke. Otherwise, you are free to roam around and make friends with bash toys and twirl spinners. I’m getting lost inside my analogy…the point is the generation you are born into is a major factor in determining the parameters of your life.
A chilling parameter is taking form across the country right now — abortion bans. How will that affect the generation at reproductive age currently? (Mostly Millennials, some Gen Xers). Generation Z will be there soon — they will be the first generation to fully experience this egregious affront to women’s rights. Consequently, the generation begotten by Gen Z might be gnarly — full of despondent kids whose parents found out they were pregnant, couldn’t get an abortion, so checked out.
In other words, those generations will be constrained on that far-reaching and pervasive bit of legislation.
I bring this discussion to you today not to argue for abortion, but to share my frustration at being in a protean generational twilight. You see, I was born in the year 1980. This places me at the end/beginning of Generation X/Millennials, respectively.
WHAT is a Millennial? WHAT is a Generation X? WHAT is your favorite color? And so on. It has always been my understanding that X came to a close in the late seventies. At that point Generation Y (now defunct) takes over. Indeed, THIS ARTICLE asserts that the Gen X cutoff is 1979.
The space cadet HERE says X lasted until 1984. Thus, Millennials weren’t manufactured until 1985.
The article cited HERE posits that X lasted until 1982.
Here’s the thing, interwebs — that last article was published in 2009. The article before that in 2017; and the first referenced work was published in 2014. I understand that our… understanding of history frequently changes, but this one is playing fast and loose with what I consider to be a cornerstone of the foundation of my worldview. Indeed, “The problem marketers often tackle is that not everyone identifies with the label chosen for their generation.” NPR’s Samantha Raphelson reports.
It’s time for some compare/contrast Generation X (men) style. I’ve produced a mesa en el Excel listing the key characteristics attributed to those nefarious Baby Boomers, Generation Equis and Generation formerly known as Generation Y (if I turn out to have more in common with the generation now called “Millennials”, I’m not f*ckin calling myself a f*ckin “Millennial”), and Generation Z.
Of particular interest in the above mesa, mi gente, is the “DEFINING EVENTS” variable. It is often the case where some pivotal moment sets the tone for a generation whereby the attitude and disposition of that generation become identified with… what is this sentence? It started off with promise but devolved into pretentious goobly gock — sorry, readers.
In short, an extraordinary occurrence comes to influence the thoughts and behaviors of that generation and, as a result, that generation is identified with that mood. Indeed, subsequent generations often find meaning in opposition to the prevailing mood of the previous generation. For instance, I identify with Gen X because of the “whatever” attitude borne out of a nonchalance honed on the yuppie mentality of success and consumerism. Point for Gen X.
As concerns the major events for Gen X — I do recall the Berlin Wall coming down. My memory of that event centers around an exhibit at a museum in Oklahoma City called “The Omniplex” — at least it was when I went (pretty sure the name has changed). Here is the portion of that impressively oppressive (ompressive/ly?) bulwark from that fateful day -
Meh-llennials Meh-ddling: The Case For a New Generation
I had a wonderful conversation with my younger sister, Chelsey, who is also in the generational purgatory between Millennial and Generation X. I feel a poem coming on. Here’s a summary of our conversation in verse -
We spoke of social responsibility.
We spoke of apathetic malaise
We spoke of losing sensibility.
We spoke of offering praise
She gave form and direction,
An attitude that reflects
The lack of connection
Among members of Gen X.
In response I said
How very essential,
How common and widespread,
Was social duty to a millennial.
“I try not to pry”
She did say to me
“I don’t know why
That we should be
Part of a group
That cares so much;
And I don’t give a poop,
About politics and such.”
I sensed her dismay
That doesn’t make you evil
Unto her, I did say
That makes you a “‘Meh’-llinneal”
What is a “‘Meh’-llinneal”? Well, If you genuinely want to know, you are likely not a ‘Meh’-llinneal. If you are reading this thinking just get to the point! I’ve already read this far, the heart of a ‘Meh’-llinneal beats in your intensely indifferent chest. That is, you know somewhere deep down in that passionately dispassionate heart of yours that you should care, but you don’t/it’d take too much effort.
That shouldn’t suggest that you’re unmotivated. The ‘Meh’-llinneal is an expert “‘meh’-ddler”. That is to say, t the ‘Meh’-llineal is a Millennial insofar as he/she will will seek out good company/worthwhile activities, but that is where the Millennial ends. If you were to ask this champion why he/she is party to such activities,, the answer will be arbitrary and joyless. Some examples –
- “I didn’t have anything else to do”
- “Because I was bored”
- “Ugh, whatever” *stupendous eye roll*
Come to think of it, those responses will work with any “why” question
I’ve produced a superficial blueprint of “Generation X: Pinball Edition”
See anything familiar? I’ll point out a few now and the rest next week. As a member of Generation X/The Millennials, I was 20, starting my third year at Oklahoma State University on Sept. 11th, 2001. Like so many of you, dear readers, I can still give a detailed account of my experience that day, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that only a few such impressions are stamped into the memory of a human person over the course of a lifetime (I would assume).
And who can forget the soap opera that was the life of O.J. Simpson? From the white Ford Bronco to the glove that didn’t fit. This all started in mid-1994 and wouldn’t wrap up, most controversially, until October of the following year. I was 13 going on 41 at the time, I was a stuffy, boring kid. I’ll only say three things about that year, besides not knowing what “acquit” meant –
1. I got glasses that year, I remember this because…
2. …my English/history teacher, who was also my kindergarten teacher, wanted to see them when she first saw me with them. So I handed them to her and, so help me, she handed me hers. We spent the next five to ten minutes talking about the ups and downs of nearsightedness while closely examining the other person’s glasses (I said I was stuffy and boring as a kid right?).
- I don’t know if I’d call it regret, but even then I knew ANY length of time spent talking about glasses while studying the glasses of ANYONE, let alone your teacher in middle school who was also your kindergarten teacher, was too long. I lost something that day…
3. I had my first experience with a bully. I was the last remaining male in a class spelling bee (did I mention I was a stuffy, boring kid?). The bully, I’ll call him “Bozo” commented that we need “more men” in the spelling bee. A sweet little girl, I think her name was Julie replied “Jarrett’s up there”. Without a moment’s hesitation, he quipped “I said men”. Oh, middle school…I think Dennis Miller said it best when he suggested that, instead of middle school, we just pack 13-year-olds into a warehouse, embarrass them in front of their friends, then send them on up to high school.
I’ve shamelessly digressed…
Back to the pinball machine! You’ll also see some stuffed animals, “living tissue over a metal endoskeleton”, a statue that was very reluctant to fall over (I bet WMDs would’ve done the trick, but where will we find them?), a gun from an infamous massacre (it’s very, very, very small), a weather event that kicked up a whirlwind of drama about race and a previously mentioned obstruction.
So, Millennial or Generation X? I’m going to be a maverick like Sarah Palin (I should stick her on” Generation X 2 (12?): Pinball Edition, The Sequel”) and say neither — ‘Meh’-llineal all the way — I know I should be concerned with what you think about my choice, but whatever.
From Pinball Machine Image