Monday, October 12, 1998

Week of 10/12/1998

Target: Generation Y
Are The Boomers’ Progeny Ready For Prime Time?
- by David Matthews 2

Take heed, my fellow members of Generation X, our replacements in the pop scene have been discovered!

It seems like it was just yesterday that we were at the forefront of popular culture. We were the anti-Boomers. We were conformists when the Boomers were activists, and activists when the Boomers were conforming to authority. While Boomers were fighting for peace, we were fighting for the right to "PARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR-TY!"

Anyone remember how we got the name "Generation X" in the first place? We got the moniker "X" because the sociologists couldn’t come up with a single term that best described our generation! We weren’t like the post-World War II Baby Boomers. There was no war to mark us like the "War Babies" of my parent’s generation, or a world depression like there was in the early 1930’s. Nope, nothing monumental that could mark us. So we were the "generic" generation.. Generation X.

Well now the torch has been passed to the children of the Baby Boomers. The sons and daughters who comprise of…. Generation Y?

I’m serious, fellow X-ers, I didn’t make that title up! Apparently the social experts who tracked us were too lazy to come up with an original moniker for the next generation. They simply moved up one letter.

And from the response from the media, the world seems ready for the new blood to take over the cutting edge from us. They deem Generation Y to be optimistic, eager to spend their money on new goodies, and activists on all the right causes.

Of course, they still have every right to be optimistic and idealistic about life. The oldest of the Gen-Y breed are just starting to venture out from the house. The college-bound have yet to suffer college-loan shock for a few more years. The job market is healthy.. for now. They have a few years of disposable money before getting hit with the burden of bills. Things look optimistic for them.. at least for now.

Of course, part of the reason why Generation X got such a bad rap was because the Boomers, not just Madison Avenue, couldn’t understand us. Let’s be brutally honest about this, we came in after the party was raided by the complicity police. Boomers had free love, we got the deluge of information about sexually-transmitted diseases and AIDS. There were no great causes that the Boomers had that interested us at the time. There was no great war for us to protest against. Race relations went from opening all doors of opportunity to keeping some of those same doors closed.

Then there was the hypocrisy of many of the Boomers as they matured. The generation that didn’t trust anyone over thirty did turn thirty, and became parents, and they didn’t want their kids to be like they were in their youths. The generation that followed them grew up watching this hypocrisy as it unfolded, and bore the brunt of their folly.

Madison Avenue didn’t get the joke when they saw the grunge scene. They tried to emulate the look of torn jeans and bargain-basement clothing in high fashion circles and then wondered why we were insulted by it. They didn’t realize that we weren’t trying to be fashionable, those were the only clothes we could afford to wear!

We in Generation X were depressing because we got stuck with the bill. The job market shriveled up. Downsizing was the name of the game. It’s hard to be optimistic when you find out that the minimum wage job you applied for was given to a Boomer who just lost his high-five-figure job and needs to feed his family. Members of Congress couldn’t even balance their own checkbooks, never mind the federal budget, and we were being told there would be no money in Social Security when the time comes for us to access it. And every time there was talk about fixing Social Security, the media would flash some geriatric on the screen screaming "this is OUR money, you can’t have it!" when they don’t realize that those same spendthrift politicians they keep electing were the ones who really spent "their" money. Given all those things, wouldn’t you be depressing?

Truth be told, the Boomers didn’t WANT to understand Generation X. They were too busy trying to raise Generation Y, living that life they once despised and though of as a joke.

Well now Generation Y has been discovered by the cutting edge, and for all that it’s worth, they’re welcome to the limelight.

Maybe they can be everything their parents wanted to be in their youth but couldn’t. Or perhaps they can be something better than their parents. More responsible, less hypocritical, and more realistic in how they see the world than their parents ever were. I would certainly hope it to be so, because I hate to see how "Generation Z" turns out if it doesn’t.

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