Gen X Is Having a (Very Gen X) Moment
Why the opt-out generation should reject its nostalgia bath
Some demographic disclosures: I was born in 1977, two weeks before Star Wars came out. I turned 42 in May. I am a late-edge member of the age cohort commonly known as Generation X. Sometimes the word “xennial” is used to describe people like me and my proximate-age peers, but I can’t use that word without feeling like I’m trying to weasel out of something, or weasel into something else. I identify as Gen X. It’s a label that makes my history make sense.
I used an internet-connected device for the first time in my friend’s parents’ basement in 1987. I wrote a review of Slanted and Enchanted for my high-school paper and used QuarkXPress to make the page it appeared on look like a David Carson layout from Ray Gun magazine, complete with power-clashing fonts. I flew the flannel. I got a Caesar haircut to look like George Clooney in From Dusk till Dawn and everybody remarked on how much I looked like Quentin Tarantino in From Dusk till Dawn. I dropped out of college to work at what people were then still calling a “dot-com.” I saw Marc Maron and Janeane Garofalo open for Henry Rollins doing spoken word. I saw Hole open for the Lemonheads.
I say these things not because I think they’re important but because I believe that they aren’t. No one should want to know more about what these experiences were like. I do not want to impress you. I am ready to be nothing, in the grand scheme. I am eager to be nothing.
To identify as Gen X is to lay claim to insignificance. We are members of a demographic blip. There are only, like, 84 million of us. We’re outnumbered on both sides by the baby-boom generation who preceded us and the millenials who followed. If you take away everything but brute post-apocalyptic math, this makes us the best generation — when the shit goes down we will, statistically speaking, be less of a drain on the world’s dwindling supply of food, water, and shade than those other age cohorts. You’re welcome.
We are a fractious generation but we can still roll our eyes in unison.
But, as long as civilization endures, we’re an inconvenient historical remainder. In January of this year…