I’m now in my mid-30s, at the coccygeal end of Generation X. (I do not consider myself as part of Generation Y. This is non-negotiable.)
I studied a lot of occult, metaphysical subjects such as astrology back in the day, and many of the books on these subjects were written in the ’70s, at a time when Baby Boomers were coming of age and having kids of their own. When some of the astrological texts described the characteristics of planetary placements shared by our generation (especially the outer plants–Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto), they painted an almost-utopian picture of how the present generation being born at that time was going to be truly visionary and revolutionary. Apparently were were going to move and shake the earth when we got older.
So, I had high hopes for my generation. I had felt the aftershocks of self-centered “me-first” “counterculture” of the Baby Boomers, the remnants of which still lingered, ripe for a correction. As a teenager, I observed how most of my classmates were a bit earthier and more sober (i.e. realistic) than our parents had been. Kids born to hippies had been somewhat critical of their parents, and had been ashamed (or at least self-conscious) of the hippie names their parents had given them.
While the Boomers had broken some new ground, some of that ground was shaky and the land-blasting had penetrated a bit too deeply in some places, and we were the generation that was going to come along and make it right. We were smarter. We’d seen our parents’ mistakes. We’d sometimes been the victims of their excesses. We weren’t going to make the same mistakes. We were going to learn from them. We were going to bring everything back into balance.
Obe Wan Kanobi, we were my only hope.
Boy was I wrong. Not only did we fail to compensate for our parents’ wayward philosophies and lifestyles, we took them to new levels. The self-centeredness took on a new pretentious tone, becoming blatant, overt, and shameless. The helicopter parenting ascended to new heights. Like the telomeres of a cell fixing to replicate, we congregated to opposite ends of multiple spectra (political, religious, philosophical, socioeconomic, sexual, dietary, etc), inventing new extremes and gravitating toward them, almost hostilly so, to the exclusion of all others and the militant assertion that we–and we alone–are right.
So much for balance. So much for practicality. So much for earthiness. So much for a return to normal.
We traded our ’80s new wave materialism and our ’90s dressed-down grungy angst for his-‘n-hers SUVs, sub-prime mortgages (so that we could overbuy overvalued property at too young an age and too early a career), reality TV drama, and the idea that not only is it not insane but rather perfectly acceptable to take both eyes off the road completely to send that oh-so-important text while freaking driving.
And we are no better as parents, either. Now we have legally-mandated “school zones” on busy streets during peak traffic hours, an abundance of wastebasket-diagnosed and over-medicated “special needs” offspring whom we demand be “mainstreamed” to the inconvenience (and occasionally peril) of everyone else around us, and an upcoming generation that may likely graduate high school not ever having been told “NO” by their parents.
Yikes. I’m not sure I want to live in a world in which a teacher couldn’t grade papers with a red pen because it might cause an undue stress response in their students, or a school system that fails to teach an age-appropriate curriculum for fear of dashing a kid’s unearned over-inflated “self-esteem”, or in which the majority of kids had never held (or maybe never even heard of) a summer or after-school job. Some of today’s kids don’t even know what a library is. Many can’t form a complex (or even simple sentences). They’re completely unaware of their history. They say “ek-cetera”. Etc.
I had such high hopes. We were going to be open-minded, but I was hoping we’d apply some common sense, not be so open-minded that our brains fell out of their skulls. I’m glad to see state-initiated inroads into areas such as same-sex marriage/unions and marijuana decriminalization. I’m happy to see more anti-vaccination sentiments, demands for gluten-free or allergen-friendly menu options, and a stronger homeschooling movement. I’m irritated, however, at how a stay-at-home mom laments that her job is “soooo haarrrrd” and yet all she does during the hours her children are in school involves simple everyday tasks common to every single functional household in a developed nation, tasks that even us working serfs have to perform so that our household can function, too.
I think it comes down to laziness. It started with the Boomers – many of them had after school jobs and cultivated a good work ethic, but due to various factors such as a lack of jobs available for every Boomer or impaired working skills due to substance abuse or what-have-you, there were many other Boomers that found themselves without jobs. And they survived. And reproduced. And some of their kids failed to develop any work ethic to speak of as well.
As usual, the government is also somewhat to blame. They’ve created a perfect storm in several ways – dumbing down public school curricula (and giving other important activities the axe, such as Phy Ed, the arts, and many after-school activities), creating more poverty and enslavement by subsidizing the former, and allowing the public schools to interfere with parenting (such as by demanding that a creative or energetic child be placed on medication before being allowed to return to school next year).
Come on, Generation X. Smarten up, wouldja? Stop whining, start working. The world does not stop at the end of your nose; in fact, that’s where the rest of this (very large) world begins – so look beyond your 18 inches of fiercely-guarded personal space. Spank your kids (light-to-moderate, of course), as an intermediate resort, to get their attention and show them that as long as they’re minors, you’re the “alpha” and what you say goes.
Realize that some of the Boomers’ excesses killed them and fucked up much of our generation, and don’t repeat the cycle. “Wait till your father gets home” is a phrase of a dying breed, but it can be resurrected.
Put down the iPhone; the text can wait, at least until you pull into your driveway. Be that rebel, be that visionary.
Think critically for yourself, notice the world around you, develop the insight to perceive it properly, and take some action….some kind of action other than having another (or heaven forbid, your first) kid at my age.
With precious few bright shiny exceptions, most of Generations X and Y are already lost; maybe Generation Z will be better.