Selena’s Gen X article from a few weeks ago resonated with many people. I enjoyed it too, as I remember watching both Heathers and Reality Bites in my teens. On tape. Because I was too young for them when they first came out.
I was born in 1982. According to the ever-wise internet, this puts me on the cusp between Generation X and the “Millennials,” which is one of many names for the following generation. This poses a bit of an identity crisis for me, because what it means is that I don’t fully relate to either generation. I was aware of most pop-culture or political events that influenced the Xers, while being a little too young to truly understand them. I haven’t “always known” the internet or cell phones. I remember them being new.
Allow me to trot out my X cred, if you will. I remember learning the card catalogue and Dewey Decimal System at the library. I remember rotary phones. I remember the first time I was in a car with electric windows (you don’t have to crank it!). When I moved to a new town in sixth grade, my friends and I kept in touch with hand-written letters for years. I didn’t buy my first CD until 8th grade.
But then again, I didn’t know high school, or anything beyond it, sans internet. In my high school years I sat in front of my family’s computer, trying over and over to log on to AOL so I could talk with my friends. I started college during Napster’s heyday, and my friends and I snatched up as much free music as we could before the government decided it was illegal. I’m also guilty of the instant gratification/”what’s in it for meeee” attitudes that plague this generation’s members.
Previous generations were so perfectly categorized. The Lost Generation. The Greatest Generation. The Baby Boomers. Even the term “Generation X,” coined when the Xers were young, referred to the fact that generation had yet to be defined. What is it that is making it harder to fit people into perfect generational boxes?
Is it the fact that previously major events such as war, which defined many of the previous generations, affect a smaller percentage of the population now? Could it be because advertisers and marketers have commodified generational identity to the point that it has lost its meaning? Or maybe it’s simply the speed at which information and opinion can now be shared. Here I am, on this blog, writing and reading with women who are up to 10 years apart from me in age, and I’m seeing how much we have in common.
I don’t really mind being a straddler. I’ve always been one who enjoyed floating among social groups; why should generational groups be any different? The only thing that really gets to me is when I hear The Olds lamenting the things that people my age never knew or experienced. That’s when I trot out the card catalogue knowledge to shut them up.