Talkin’ About No Generation

“I don’t have a generation,” stated Suzanne Vale in Carrie Fisher’s autobiographical film, Postcards From the Edge. “Well then I think you’d better get one,” her agent, Marty Wiener, answered with a smile.

The generation label has a lot to do with identity. You’re given a label: The Greatest Generation, The Silent Generation, The Lost Generation, Generation Jones, The Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y. But then there are those like me, and perhaps, Suzanne Vale, caught in the middle — on the cusp of two generations.

I was born in 1981, under a new president, a new decade and a few years before MTV hit the airwaves. I can identify with most everything that falls under Generation X, but they seem to scoff at the notion of including any children of the 80s in their club. On the other hand, I can’t really relate to Generation Y, my sister’s generation (1982-1997), because I didn’t spend my ultra-formative years on a computer, watching reality tv or thinking I didn’t have to work as hard as my parents to succeed.

At our multi-generational gathering in the Meatpacking District the other evening, I talked with Jeff Gordinier, author of the upcoming book, X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking. When defining Generation X, Jeff turned to what most other Gen Xers would, Wikipedia.com and averaged it out from about 1962-1977. What happens to those in the middle? They’re just hanging out on the cusp?

Which leads me to the idea that perhaps people in these “cusp years,” are more likely to wonder about their identity and feel without focus throughout their lives. Are we a part of the generation that’s making a difference? Or are we “all about Me?” And if we are truly in the middle, how do you strike a balance between the two, giving back, but still thinking about yourself? Perhaps that’s just part of the eternal struggle in every individual and not a generational thing at all. Still, it would be nice to not always feel like I’m on the edge. I’d like it if someone handed me one of the many road maps we use to navigate in a lifetime. It might make the trip feel a little more Hollywood and a little less like a Robert Frost poem.

-Downtown

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3 responses to “Talkin’ About No Generation

  1. V. interesting post, dear dt, I hear you – isn’t it better to be on the edge, though, rather than the outside? Talkin’ about my generation – or perhaps I should begin with that of my parents. S & S lived in a time where it was important (to them) to fit in, to assimilate, to join the junior league (even though you are a year too old so it’s ok to lie about it or even though you are not of the “right” faith but times have changed so you won’t have to lie about that – just behave like your sisters).

    I’ve always felt like I’m on the outside. It’s only in the last five years or so that I’ve been able to embrace who I am (years aside) and enjoyed the edginess of life. Sadly, the parents had to die first for me to become me.

    and by the way, how weird is it that my children born in 1994 and 1997 are the same generation as your sister. I’d like to consider myself a Gen-Xer, though I’m on the cusp. The extra fortunate part of that makes me NOT in the same gen as your parents. That’d be too weird. Or wouldn’t it? They don’t strike me as assimilators… ut

  2. Thanks for this post, I gotta read Gordinier’s book.

    PS: The reason most of us — myself included, until recently — don’t feel like we’re really a part of the generation that the mainstream media places us in is because the MSM always gets it wrong. I finally did some heavy thinking about the subject, and came up with an only half-absurd theory about recent American generations. If you were born in 1981, you’re not an Xer or a Millennial. You are… a member of Generation Net. Read all about it, and let me know what you think!

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