Karen here, Generation X.
The other day I was busy boosting the elevation of my bob with a can of Aqua Net when I saw this: Gen Z is Calling Gen X the Karen Generation.
Karen was mad. Let me tell you, Karen wanted to call the manager over this one. But then I realized — up to now, pretty much no one has ever listened to me. So, I’m super-stoked to be the spokesperson for my generation.
First off, that whole thing about us being a racist-homophobic-transphobic-manager-calling nihilists? No. Just, no. I mean probably some of the Xers are, but we don’t invite them to the meetings.
We were the first generation to grow up on Mr. Rogers. We wore high-waisted jeans before you ever thought of them. And yes, they were acid washed, but what else works so well with neon? We watched Reagan villainize the unions and make a virtue of greed. We graduated to closed factories. We lost our 401ks in the dot-com bust and your tuition in the housing crash. We’re sorry about college.
We’re not asking you to feel sorry for us, we do a good job of that ourselves. And why are we complaining — while we grew up in the vague shadow of the threat of nuclear war, you’ve been doing active shooter drills since kindergarten. By the time you’re all in the workforce, 401ks will be outlawed and all our major cities will have washed away in catastrophic storms.
Which is why for the moment I want to put aside the misogyny of making a caricature of feminine anger by way of the Karen meme. Let’s talk about something else instead.
Look — the powers that be would like nothing more than to have us sitting around ordering Prime and circulating divisive memes that fracture us across generation, race, gender identity, and politics. But we’ve got problems.
Instead of denouncing Xers, let’s denounce homophobia. Instead of shaming boomers, let’s embrace a $15 minimum wage. Let’s talk about how to keep students from being crippled by student debt for their entire adult lives.
And most important of all, let’s talk about climate change, because it scares #*&@ out of me and quite frankly I’m sick of waking up in the middle of the night in a shaking panic.
Corporations lobby to rollback environmental protections, hydro-fluorocarbons got un-banned, the EPA scrapped their planned regulations on sewage waste, regulations that prevented coal companies from polluting waterways were gutted, protections against mercury pollution are being phased out, and the Department of the Interior approved offshore drilling in the Arctic.
What I’m saying is — it’s high time someone talked to the manager.
We get it — you’re mad. We haven’t done much. We’ll cop to a little bit of nihilism. We never got over River Phoenix/ Kurt Cobain/Tupac/David Foster Wallace/Chris Cornell. The Zoloft is only just now kicking in. But let’s quit with the name-calling and get busy fixing this mess.
While we’re on the subject, we’re glad you showed up. And yes, I’m talking to you, Greta. And Malala. And anyone badass enough to be known by their first name before attaining legal drinking age. Also you, Parkland kids, Yara Shahidi, Jamie Margolin, Isra Hirsi, Marley Diaz, Desmond is Amazing, and other every fierce and talented activist among you.
We’re sorry about Jeff Bezos and the Alex P. Keatons of our generation who watched Gordon Gekko on Wall Street and thought ‘yeah, me too’, before going on to blow up the stock market on subprime loans.
From now on, let’s leave stereotypes to those who embrace using the article ‘the’ when referring to different races or sexual orientations.
As to the rest of us — let’s get busy fixing this.