Nix The “X” There are a variety of terms from which to choose: The Lost Generation, the MTV Generation, Generation PC, Busters, the Information Generation, the Bitter Bunch, the 13 th Generation, Generation Next, the Soundbite Generation… We have been slapped with more stickers than a Deadhead’s van. For those of us who grew up on MTV, video games, and microwave dinners, these are far from complimentary terms. My generation doesn t deserve the title “Generation X” because it is an incorrect label that boomers gave us without justification. The phrase “Baby Boomer” has a nice ring to it, but “Generation X”, suggests that my generation, those people ages eight-teen to twenty-five, are lost or undefined.
According to many analysts and modern philosophers, although we might be the generation that can surf the Internet or program a VCR, we lack the depth or direction to add value to society. Their theory suggests we are lazy, apathetic, and care little about the world and even more notable, we are lost. Why do previous generations enjoy titles such as the World War I Generation and the Baby Boomers, while my generation is known as the lazy, do-nothing, bum-off-our-parents Generation X ers. Many people contend it is because we are slackers and haven t accomplished anything of substance. They also give us the title implying we care nothing of the world around us, and pay no attention to anything that doesn t show up on MTV.
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These assumptions are wrong for three reasons. Generation X faces more barriers at an earlier age than any generation before us. The people that so quickly labeled our generation took even less time to analyze it, they gave the verdict before they listened to the case. Third, we are politically aware, we are just focused on different issues than our predecessors. First, my generation is being challenged by enormous obstacles including the decreasing quality of public schooling a well as the increasing costs of a college education. We are being challenged globally in the workplace unlike generations of the past and are not as well prepared in High School for this competition as the Japanese and Europeans are.
In addition, one has to practically mortgage his or her future to pay for a college education. My parents paid off their college educations within one year of graduating. This is unheard of today. Not only are well paying jobs scarce, but their summer wages could not pay a semester’s tuition. These days, a bachelor’s degree is required to obtain any kind of management position for the job seeking Generation Xr, but there are currently many non-degree mid-level boomer generation managers. This illustrates the lower standards for entry-level managers of the past.
This “education inflation” is continuing to rise and is a significant obstacle for my generation. The second argument is related to the chicken or the egg dilemma. Did my generation deserve the name Generation X or did we fulfill the prophecy of Generation X I argue that we have been scrutinized and criticized so much by our previous generation of so-called role models that the label was made before the analysis. They look at our nose ring and not our resume to decide not to hire us. We are the first generation to not have a higher standard of living than our parents. It does not makes sense to blame this on us.
Rather, blame this event on the last generation who enjoyed a higher standard of living and did not pass this ancestral birthright on to their children. They say we are slackers and nobodies, but we are higher educated, and more ambitious than our predecessors. Boomers gave us an America in the dumpster, and called us Generation X for having to live in it, while they still reap the rewards of creating a national debt that we have to pay off. Reaganomics maybe over as far as the boomers are concerned, but that like the spread of AIDS, and other modern issues, is all to much a reality for busters. The third issue is that of our supposed unawareness. The boomers talk about their passionate ideologies they had at our age, and compare it to our alleged carefree outlook on the world around us, but where have the idealists gone, where are the changes that would shake the foundations of our thought Call on Wall Street, call on Washington.
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There you will find our lost idealists. There you find them doing what has always happened before, postponing the inevitable in favor of the comfortable. The shoulders of the Baby Boomers have grown weary with age and found that their problems are easily postponed another few years. Who shall deal with these, it shall be Generation X. Generation X is different from the boomers of yesteryear but not because we are slackers, screw-ups, or schemers.
The boomers tended to be, in the 1960’s and early 70’s, ideologues that crusaded for their causes and “made love, not war.” Then they sold out their ideology for BMW’s, stock portfolios, and cable TV. The liberal boomers soon became Reagan Democrats or fiscal Republicans. But Generation X is different. It is true that we follow in the young ideals of our parents, but they took on these ideals only for the image, and the shock value. They rode that out, and when the fun was over they turned to their awaiting responsibilities, and became the conservatives they said they would never be. Generation X has these young ideals because it is reality to us, this is how we realize it must be for us to survive economically.
We don t talk about the environment for convenience, we talk about it because if we don t, it won t be there. Though many of us have our government causes, our campaigns, or strong ideology, the Gen X’er is (and will always be) more libertarian than the Baby Boomer. We tend to distrust government control of anything we don’t want the government meddling in our bedroom, our computer, or our income. Though socially liberal, like the young people throughout history, young X’ers are far more economically conservative than past generations. So what do we care about The Economy, the Environment, the Society, all of these are easily looked over by our leaders in Washington and the boardrooms. They are problems of tomorrow, today is for things more important.
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You have to only look to the paper and see what troubles our leaders most, Medicare and Social Security. Ask my generation what they think of these and you will be surprised how few care. The thoughts of my generation do not rest on things that will be gone, but rather to what we can save and what we can heal. “Generation X” is an undeserving title that boomers gave us, after only assessing some of our characteristics. Most of these assumptions were incorrect to begin with, mainly their claim that we pay no attention to our political surroundings. Their quickness to label us with the title Generation X is also incorrect in their overlooking of the obstacles we must overcome, do to their lacking of such barriers at our age..