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Archive for the tag “GenXer”

26) The American Dream is a Prison Cell

Growing up, I was under the illusion that my father was good with money and was conscientious about his investments and what he chose to buy. I learned later on that my father’s motivation was entirely based on my mother’s hormones. He would do anything to assure that she stayed with him, even moving our family when we were better off, financially speaking, to stay and pay off the home we lived in. All of this was hidden from my view; yet, I continued to think that he was making sound choices all along.

As I began attending college, I had to take out student loans, like the majority of other middle class students who were lucky enough to attend college. My primary motivation was that I had to pick something that would land me a job. Survival and independence was the ultimate goal. I often wondered why society calls it education, when the reality is to get a job and serve a life prison of work for pay to consume.

I first majored in Business. Like many young people, I was swayed by the idea that knowing business will be a guarantee to get a job and thus achieve success. As I spent the first year of college in business courses, a great anxiety slithered along the edges of my perception like worms in moist earth.

I didn’t like what I was doing or learning. The language was empty, calculating, devoid of the natural world. Dressing up, making appearances, walking the walk, talking the talk, my soul plunged into the void. Oxygen escaped through my pores every time I opened the doors of the creaking building.

The light disappeared into the polished floors of the hall; every classroom was filled with the templates of PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, and cut and paste Word memos with cheesy clipart I had seen on thousands of student flyers stapled onto billboards. Being ‘creative’ was equated with changing the color scheme and typography on your spreadsheet.

Everyone dressed in smart suits and shiny, black shoes clicking as they walked, like the sound of register tape pounding out numbers and dollar signs. Some days, I would stroll down those halls, feeling sick, observing my fellow students regurgitate business principles and economic trends mimicking their pale faced heroes on the trading floor of Wall Street, going blind staring at an endless stream of financial tickers.

scantron

About this time, I saw the film, The Matrix. There was no color to this world, no life in it. After taking a marketing class, I realized that my DNA was fundamentally opposed to everything I was being taught. A storm passed over me, a kind of existential crisis. I tried desperately to study for tests. I was a poor test-taker to begin with. Give me an essay question and I can explain everything. Our tests consisted of multiple choice and true or false questions, just like all of the CTBS tests I took in grade school with many rows of dots on Scantrons.

I was never any good at them. I overthought my answers and had difficulty with the process of elimination. Elimination is waste and in my world, everything must be considered before being discarded. My Business Law professor told me I think too much. I was completely depressed. What can I do in this world that has meaning and real satisfaction? I can’t buck up to make this work without going absolutely mad or becoming a sociopathic asshole.

My roommate, Tracy, was also a Business major. I came home to our apartment in tears. After several cigarettes and a few beers, she pulled out the course catalog and showed me a major I had never heard of.

“I was thinking… you are really creative. Why don’t you see about getting into the Graphic Design program?” she said. “It’s still business oriented because you work in marketing and advertising, but you design logos and other stuff.”

I took one look at the catalog and knew that’s what I wanted to learn. I needed creativity. I needed more than black numbers on white paper. I needed color and hues and tints; I yearned for new ideas, research, strange juxtapositions and conceptual exploration.

Three years later, I was in my junior year in Graphic Arts taking a class on Ethics in Design. Once again, I found myself in a panic, questioning how I would make a living in this field and I began to worry. Even though I reclaimed my soul in the creative element, would I be chained to the whims of business interests, would the color of my world dissolve into oblivion with the incessant needs of my clients to sell things I didn’t believe in?

After all, I would have to engage clients whose bottom lines were engrained in their business plans and the bottom line is all anyone can focus on. Was I willing to sacrifice my creative energy to see it produce another useless consumer product, more waste, more of the same? Was I willing to use my design skills to manipulate the public in ways that inherently were wrong and completely unsustainable?

The answer was – No.

After graduation, I took a retail job as a temporary solution with the hope of planning my next career step. After a year, I signed up for a 401(k) and contributed more than was recommended, having educated myself on money and trying to save more than I spend, once again knowing the future was uncertain and I had to pay my student loans. I subscribed to Money magazine and drew up a spreadsheet, keeping track of my expenses and re-balancing my portfolio every year. I did this for five years, careful to plan everything out, how much I would save and keeping my interest income figures low, just in case. That all changed…

I was clearly the wrong demographic for Money magazine, so I let the subscription lapse. Money magazine was for people who had $5,000 to invest, a mortgage, a kid or two in college, and a nest egg of at least $100,000. Nothing in the articles represented anything I was going through.

Four years later and an economic upheaval in 2008, I began to focus less on money, and yet, I saved it because I needed to sustain myself even though I knew the system was absolutely screwed. I began to downsize my living to the bare essentials. I stopped servicing my car and driving only when I absolutely needed to. I became more reliant on my computer for communication than my phone.

Now, my lifestyle is still at bare minimum. I have enough money for my creature comforts; coffee, cheap wine and $1 books at the library bookstore. I pay for a phone I hardly use and pay off my credit card each month. Debt is my enemy; a prison cell and I’d rather just go without, not see my friends, not drive anywhere. I write every day, I read every day and I hope every day for a revolution of consciousness.


Copyright © 2015 Solo GenX Warriors 
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20) Letter to Baby Boomers From Gen-X

Dear Baby Boomer,

We are Generation X or whatever you want to call us. We are the youth of the nation… or were. We don’t give a R.I.P. Our destiny is written on the wall, starting with civilization. We are nihilistic by nature because no one wanted us to be here…

Never mind. We seek Nirvana, a place in the world to shelve our Trapper Keepers, our tear-stained journals of rage, our misunderstood expression of anger toward a world with no future lodged in the throat of Sid Vicious, a casualty to the Boomer drug experimentation legacy. Thanks for the bump.

Oh, the 1970s… a putrefied pustule on the zit of history, like a Halloween pumpkin rotting in late December.

The 1970s

The 1970s

We don’t blame you, Boomers. You were just another generation among many, going way back. We can see far down the pike of human existence and we are uniformly disgusted with all human beings, including ourselves. So, don’t take it personally. You just happened to give us a lot of stupid, frivolous, narcissistic doo-doo that doesn’t matter a hill-of-beans to any human dead or alive… but we aren’t taking names or numbers, just sharpening our secondhand pencils for another round of philosophical debate.

Don’t worry. We have your best interest in mind, along with your children even though they were loved more than us. We slam danced in the backseat of our parent’s VW bugs, smacking our heads up against the windows and flying headfirst into the dashboard when our father hit the brakes. Honestly, we have no deep-seated anger that our own parents didn’t flash that cute little “Baby On Board” sign when they drove us around without seatbelts or car seats. We just laughed it off and stuck our stuffed Garfield plush dolls in the trunk with the butt sticking out to show we have a healthy sense of humor.

Okay, let me explain the whole “punk” thing. It’s not about talent, you silly Boomer. It’s about revolution. I know you know what that is. You don’t understand our music because it’s too painful to listen to and reflects the existential dark matter of human misery that we feel every day. Yes, that’s right. Our music feels bad and sounds bad to you because we feel worse than you could ever imagine. To us, your music sounds like the Intro to Loony Tunes.

We were left alone, watching MTV videos in the middle of the night sucking on Nerds candy, waiting for our parental units to come home, too tired to fix us dinner and so we make ourselves another crappy box of Mac & Cheese. We are born into a world of sustained horror, greed, AIDS, useless politics, and recessions that fall like dominoes every time we try to move up in the world from a cardboard box. We have never felt that anyone owes us anything and only want a better world for everyone. So, we deserve a break today.

Be nice. Give us a hug. That’s all we ask.

With love and adoration,

Generation X


Copyright © 2014 Solo GenX Warriors 
Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

13) Letter to Neil Howe

The following letter was sent to Neil Howe, author of several books on America’s generations including The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny. Mr. Howe was kind enough to suggest that I might want to start my own blog if I planned to write “on an ongoing basis.” I thought it would be appropriate to share my letter with you.

Dear Mr. Howe,

I am in the process of writing an important article on Generation X and my personal experiences with the job market as it is today. I was hoping you might be able to give me some advice on where I might place it. I thought it would be a great piece for Forbes Magazine because it is an important statement on the generations and Gen-X in particular.

As a writer studying Generation X, I feel my voice is a unique and important one. I am a single, un-married female turning 40 this year; the quintessential latchkey kid with no prospects of a career other than as a writer.

My hero is Mark Twain and three big brothers raised me: Depeche Mode. My parents were of the Silent Generation and I am a latter-day-Xer, an outlier of the X generation. The fact that Mark Twain shares my generational experience upon learning this from 13th Gen, it further deepened my love for him and the reason I gravitate to his ideas. I always wondered why I loved the works of Virginia Woolf and Hemingway; discovering through your book that they are kindred spirits in another “lost” generation.

At 40, I have no children, no family and two houseplants. I live with my aunt, who I am grateful to every day for loving me and providing a roof over my head. I had a retail job of 7 years, at which I quit a year ago when I had several panic attacks and hit a wall. I made  $11.25/hour, which was comfortable for me. I didn’t care about the money, but the hours kept going down and I felt constantly abused by angry customers, too much product on the floor and worrying that I was alone at night at the cash registers in a gigantic store where anything could happen and did.

Nothing in college ever prepared me for this type of environment and I had to wipe my self-esteem off of the floor every time I left the building. Luckily, I found an online writing gig for 6 months. At first, there was plenty of work and I scraped by, cutting back on everything I did and savoring the small savings I had to get me through the year. Unfortunately, the work was sporadic and eventually dried up and I had to take my unemployment. Thank goodness for that!

I don’t mean to put all of this on you; however, I know that you understand our generation and what we are going through. I am extremely grateful to you for what you are doing in studying the generations and the importance of this information as we are in truly challenging times.

I thank you for your time and look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Latchkey Lisa


Copyright © 2014 Solo GenX Warriors 
Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

 

03) Gen-X: The Birth of a Label

The Gen-X label, as we know it today, is the primary definition for those born roughly between 1961 and 1983. As these odd creatures grew up in a swirling jumble of punk, pollution and porno, the world was becoming anything but child friendly. These kids were already cynical adults by age 7 and left on their own to figure things out for themselves, often taking longer to get a handle on life, family and career. So, where exactly did this mysterious label come from?

If you look at the occurrences of the Gen-X label over the last 61 years, one can easily point to three specific years that stand out in our collective conscious: 1953, 1964 and 1991. After 1991, the label evolved into a core marketing term loathed by frustrated advertisers struggling to get Gen-X consumers to try new products (an attribute I personally admire).

Some descriptions (and birth years) of GenX overlap with what I call Generation Me [AKA Millenials], but it’s clear that the GenX description is incomplete and often misguided. – Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D., author of Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable Than Ever Before.


 X – Original

We named this unknown generation, The Generation X, and even in our first enthusiasm we realised that we had something far bigger than our talents and pockets could cope with. – Robert Capa, Magnum Photographer

Robert Capa, famous war photographer and founder of the label, Generation X. [Image via Wikipedia]

Most historians agree that the first appearance of the term “Generation X” was verbalized in 1953, by war photographer Robert Capa, almost a decade before the actual folks were born and officially christened as Generation X. Capa’s “Generation X” described young people with a fatalistic view of the future. The label read like an aimless particle in space or an unknown variable in an algebraic expression. If one cannot understand it, X is a placeholder until further study can manifest a clearer definition.

In a Huffington Post article, Christine Henseler dissects the GenX label origins:

Most people think that it was born in 1991 when Canadian writer and visual artist, Douglas Coupland, published the popular book Generation X: Tales of An Accelerated Culture. That’s not the case. In fact, it all began much earlier, in 1953 when, as Dr. John Ulrich eloquently details in GenXegesis, “The Queen’s Generation: Young People in a Changing World” was published in the Picture Post in the United Kingdom. This piece was later published as a three-part series titled “Youth and the World” in the United States’ magazine called Holiday.


X – 2.0

In 1964, the first printing of Generation X by Hamblett and Deverson, was published in an attempt to capture the voices of the nation’s youth at the twilight of Beatlemania. The sentiments taken from the Mod subculture and other rock youth groups in the UK revealed a cross-section of kids with a palpable discontent for their parents, civic and political institutions, and a disillusioned outlook on the future.

Generation X by Jane Deverson and Charles Hamblett • Courtesy of Wikipedia

Generation X by Jane Deverson and Charles Hamblett • [Image via Wikipedia]

The quotes below were taken from an article posted on February 28, 2014, The Original Generation X, on BBC.com.

“Marriage is the only thing that really scares me…”

“Religion is for old people who have given up living…”

“I’d prefer to do something for the good of humanity…”

“You want to hit back at all the old geezers who tell us what to do…”

60s Mod Culture

In 1964 the paperback Generation X hit the bookstands. Its candid interviews with teenagers still make fascinating reading 50 years on, says Alan Dein. • [Image via BBC.com]

Two years before the original book, Generation X was published, Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, echoed some of the explosive opinions expressed by the youth culture.

…my glazzies were stuck together real horrorshow like sleepglue. – Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

Movie Still from A Clockwork Orange, 1971

Movie Still from Stanley Kurbrik’s, A Clockwork Orange, 1971 • [Image via wall.alphacoders.com]

In 1976, Billy Idol would name his punk band – Generation X, after Hamblett and Deverson’s book, appropriately fusing the Gen-X label to punk music. In its active years, the band was an underground punk phenomenon until Billy Idol would make a name for himself in the 1980s with Rebel Yell and White Wedding, among other hits. Generation X’s music would later gain popularity, as rabid fans of Billy Idol would unearth his earlier work with Generation X. Like the enigmatic Gen-X generation, the band, Gen-X would disappear into the cracks of culture and re-emerge in screaming fits of unwarranted exposure.

Generation X Band

Billy Idol named his band, Generation X, after Hamblett and Deverson’s Generation X, a book his mother owned. • [Image via thep5.blogspot.com]

Britian's Punks

News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), • Friday, April 29, 1977 • [Image via Newspapers.com]


 X 3.0 Reloaded

In 1991, two symbolic events would further define an isolated and exasperated youth culture, the release of Douglas Coupland’s Generation X: Tales Of An Accelerated Culture and Nirvana’s Nevermind album – both creating an enriched sound and philosophy of Gen-X in the wake of Operation Desert Storm and the year’s end collapse of the Soviet Union.

[Image via modernmrsdarcy.com]

I just want to show society what people born after 1960 think about things… We’re sick of stupid labels, we’re sick of being marginalized in lousy jobs, and we’re tired of hearing about ourselves from others. – Doug Coupland, Boston Globe, 1991 (Wikipedia)

This Book Review of Coupland’s Generation X, written by Michael Hutak, describes the early 1990s third wave of despair, hopelessness and insights into the Xers of the struggling to navigate a stagnant economy, not far removed from the discontent of the previous incarnations associated with the Gen-X label.

Coupland's Generation X - 1992 Book Review by Michael Hutak • Courtesy of hutak.org

Generation X by Douglas Coupland – 1992 Book Review by Michael Hutak • [Image via hutak.org]

In 1991, I was in my junior year in high school, ditching classes on a regular basis, frequenting Rocky Horror Picture Show performances at the Balboa Theater and drinking MGD’s (Miller Genuine Draft) with my friends on a trestle in San Timoteo Canyon at midnight waiting for the next train so we could hurl our empty beer bottles into an open railcar. I fantasized that I was an empty bottle in a pile of woodchips and ride the train forever.

[image via 'Rennaissance Girl' photo by Rae • trg-photos.blogspot.com]

[Image via • trg-photos.blogspot.com • photo by Rae]


 Gen-X Today

All generations are defined and re-defined as they collectively adapt, respond and interact with technology; grow older and with self-reflection, become a little wiser.

In his book, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Chuck Klosterman suggests that the movie, The Empire Strikes Back, is “the seminal foundation for what became “Generation X,” and similar to Capa’s first utterance of the “X” label, Klosterman’s view of The Empire Strikes Back “set the social aesthetic for a generation coming in the future,” as if it were a pre-determined outcome.

Chuck Klosterman: A Voice of Generation X

[Image via Wikipedia]

…all the clichés about Gen Xers were true – but the point everyone failed to make was that our whole demographic was comprised of cynical optimists. – Chuck Klosterman, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs

Generation X will continue to define itself by action and though, this generation may be comfortable with their imposed namesake, this they will speak for itself in ways that may not be realized until a later date in history. It truly is a generation that doesn’t have time to explain itself, but not inclined to take anyone else’s word for it.


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Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

 

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