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The Syndicate

 Author:  matt
 Dated:  Tuesday, January 11 2005 @ 04:43 AM PST
 Viewed:  1048 times  
Life"can someone please define the term 'generation X'? is it like the slacker generation? thanks "(sic)

I ran across this in a message board, and felt the need to answer it. My response got long, so copy-paste, instant blog entry and discussion fodder!

Personally (and I know others may disagree), I consider myself to be at the tail end of Generation X. I'm turning 30 this year.

For me, Generation Xers are pretty much defined as those people who attended high school in the 1980s, give or take. We're old enough to remember the entire 80s, but young enough to not have had a career type of job before 1990 or so.

Culturally, to use some examples, it boils down to more than just Knight Rider, parachute pants, MTV News, and the advent of CDs. There's also Battlestar Galactica, plaid polyester, the advent of cable television, and the long awaited death of 8-track. The primary thing younger people should understand about the 80s is that what people had to work with was the remnants of the 70s, so all things considered, it went pretty well.

To make some sweeping generalizations, we're typified by (though don't hold a monopoly on) disaffected cynicism. We were raised to live in the world of John Hughes and eat catsup as a vegetable in our school lunches... As a matter of fact, we're probably going to be the last American generation to spell that word, "C A T S U P."

From the way history appears, the "Greatest Generation" was full of accomplishments - they, of course, write the history. The Baby Boomers managed to go all the way from free love to junk bonds while rebelling against their parents, and really, how do you compete with that? That's my take on the source of the slacker mythos, but there's more to the generation than that. There was every kind of person there is in any generation, "sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, d***heads", as the primary theatrical mouthpiece of 80s culture put it.

Picking an end date for GenX (or a beginning date for GenY, or whatever nomenclature is currently acceptable) is easy, because I think of there being a clear delineation between the decline of the hair bands and the parallel beginnings of Nirvana and Boyz II Men. There's no doubt that each has a clear lineage (neither of which is the aforementioned hair bands), but having MTV go from Jon Bon Jovi to Kurt Cobain and from "U Can't Touch This" to "Motownphilly" is a discernable line in the sand. I got to see both sides of that line before I graduated high school, which is why I put myself on the cusp.

All of this is, of course, arbitrary, since the defining attribute of this generation is that it had no single defining attribute.

This probably comes across as elitist or preachy... Whatever.

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  • Knight Rider
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