It all comes back to 1991.
I have to title this post “Tales For An Accelerated Culture” because if I simply called it “Generation X” you’d more than likely assume I was speaking of the generation… my generation… rather than the actual book.
I usually don’t show it, but secretly I groan at the term “Generation Y”. Somehow it seems to imply to me that Generation X is some sort of failed prototype for what we should have been. If we’re the failed soda recipe 6–UP, Gen Y is 7–UP.
I guess Generation Y would simply explain it as simply an alphabetical progression. The next generation would be called Generation Z no doubt. Though Generation Y has no clue what the X stood for.
The X stands for nothing… unknown, unexplained, uncategorized and as many of our parents made plain… unwanted.
We’re like Seinfeld. The generation about nothing. Even on Star Trek it was simply The Next Generation.
Back in 1991 Strauss and Howe wrote the legendary Generational Bible “Generations: The History Of America’s Future 1584 to 2069”. According to Strauss and Howe, the actual sociological name for Generation Y is “Millennial”.
Strauss and Howe just called us a number. The “Thirteenth Generation”. The generation with no name that grew up in that gap between the creation of double income families and the creation of after school care. (For confused Gen Y people… the key was under the mat.)
At least Strauss and Howe got us though.
“Our 13er reader knows perfectly well what your elders seldom admit: Yours is an ill timed life-cycle.” (Pg12)
Born after everything that was important happened. Born too late to be yuppies, but told to head to college get into debt and a world of opportunity would exist for us. We graduated college and mostly ended up working retail in the stores the yuppies shopped in. Dressed like penguins and served oysters to those that could afford it.
The problem wasn’t that unemployment was 9%. The problem was that unemployment in my college educated peer group was 60%. So…
Would you like fries with that?
Or as Coupland called them: McJobs.
Born before everything that was important happened. Before the Internet, before cell phones, before Google and Amazon and eBay, before cable had a zillion channels.
It’s 1991 and we’re home alone with MTV. Or at least the dream of MTV trapped in New Zealand. We get 30 minutes of Ready To Roll at 6pm on Saturdays on TV One and it’s about as close to mandatory as anything ever could be.
With the Lights out it’s less dangerous
Here we are now entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now entertain us
It’s 1991 and we’ll never have a Tom Brokaw calling us the Greatest Generation in any retrospect because Operation Desert Storm lasts the blink of an eye and more people die in inner city gang violence than in combat. Plus the whole thing isn’t remotely noble, we all know it’s about oil. And Saddam proclaims victory like the whole thing is a cliff hanger for B-Movie and we know the sequel will be coming to theaters near you soon.
In 1991 Douglas Coupland wrote “Generation X: Tales For An Accelerated Culture”. Thats right children, we’re named after a book, and the moniker just stuck.
Seriously I try, try, try not to think about Generation X stuff at all. But this blog has been endlessly blaring on about Generation Y for weeks now and I can’t stop picking at the scabs covering the wounds of my early twenties. So I go onto Amazon and just sure as sure can be, I can get the book my generation gets it’s name from for a single penny plus shipping.
It arrived today in the mail.
I’ve completely forgotten the story, but the book feels so familiar. Like an old friend that hung himself of the end off the end of Petone Wharf in the early hours of a Tuesday morning. (You attempt suicide on a Friday night because you want people to stop you. You attempt suicide on a Tuesday morning because you don’t.)
I flip it open at random and the quirky quotes line the outer edges of the book just as I remember. It still seems cool. Like the book was a webpage before webpages existed.
“Or for that matter, do you really think we enjoy hearing about your brand new million-dollar home when we can barely afford to eat Kraft Dinner sandwiches in our own grimy little shoe boxes and we’re pushing thirty? A home you won in a genetic lottery, I might add, sheerly by dint of your having been born at the right time in history? You’d last about ten minutes if you were my age these days, Martin. And I have to endure pinheads like you rusting above me for the rest of my life, always grabbing the best piece of cake first and then putting a barbed wire fence around the rest. You really make me sick.” (pg21)
And thats enough for today. I close the book but remember page 21 because I know I’ll either spend two hours reading it tonight, or two hours writing about it. I think writing about it might be better for me. I should just put the book on a shelf somewhere and forget about it.
I might not. Pick pick pick. I’m bleeding.
It all comes back to 1991.
I’m taken with the notion
To love you with the sweetest of devotion
I met my wife in 1991. I had to have her. She was dating someone else and I just broke them up on purpose and didn’t give a damn about manners. She just smelled good and I’d not have killed him, but certainly tore him up good if required. Long distance for three years before we married. Snail mail across the Pacific arriving in random order whenever it felt like it.
I retrained to be a nurse – the best paying McJob possible that would never leave me unemployed again. If you don’t think nursing is a McJob, then you need to spend some quality time with thirty people with various forms of dementia with access to call bells, telephones and a sense of entitlement.
I’ve done shift work for eons so I can be home with the kids while my wife works and vice versa. Our kids aren’t clothed in bubble wrap, but that’s only because Wal-Mart doesn’t sell it.
There will be no social security for us. The Locust Generation will have eaten that before we get there.
Selling real estate and making serious money…
…that’s the dream that there is a way out.
A way to live a life where we go to bed together every night of the week.