Apparently there is much angst in the funny pages these days about the status of “Millennials”. This is apparently a generation that happened when no one was looking, and it is a subject of some controversy whether this generation is the worst of all generations to have ever existed, or actually super cool and great. Where one falls on the issue seems to depend largely upon whether you are a member of the Millennials, in which case you think Millennials are awesome and all their apparent failures can be attributed to the bad faith of previous generations, or you are a member of a previous generation, in which case you think Millennials suck because they are lazy and get offended by chalk marks or something along those lines.
I am not particularly equipped to answer this question. I am a member of “Generation X”, and the hallmark of that generation is that we don’t care about anything. Frankly, I stopped paying attention to the generational divide sometime in the mid-1990s when Friends was popular, and I just assumed they weren’t making any new generations. So imagine my surprise when, this election cycle, I had to contend with dueling editorials which alternately claimed that Millennials were to blame for the rise of Donald Trump, Millennials were the only people who could save us from the rise of Donald Trump, and that Millennials were not responsible one way or the other for Donald Trump because they all think voting is for lamewads.
In addition to this, we are now being prepared for the arrival of a generation after Millennials, whose hallmarks will be not remembering 9/11 somberly enough and just calling cell phones “phones”. This generation is possibly called Generation Z, though that only really works if we go back to the fascist tyranny of a sequential alphabet and start referring to Millennials as “Generation Y” again, and let’s face it, that’s not going to happen. Also, “Generation Z” sounds like they are all zombies, which, while it would probably make a good SyFy original series, does not (yet) reflect our current reality. I suppose I could get some clarification on what these people prefer to be called by asking them, but like every other sensible human being, once I turned forty, I decided to stop listening to what anyone under the age of 25 had to say about any subject whatsoever, and I see no reason to alter that course now.
What I do know is about the other generations still clinging to life while all the important twenty-somethings zoom around on their Uber hoverboards “disrupting” things. So, for the edification of my readers, I present the following generational guidelines.
GENERATION: Generation X
PRIMARY ATTITUDE: Prematurely world-weary cynicism
RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER GENERATIONS: All-consuming hatred
CULTURAL TOUCHSTONES: Kurt Cobain, Singles, overuse of flannel
DEGREE OF IRONY: Extreme and all-consuming
AGE OF PEOPLE THEY CONSIDER OLD: 65+
Generation X, to which I belong, are the children of the post-World War II generation. They were raised by parents whose poisonous levels of self-involvement was passed on to their children, but whose financial stability and invincible arrogance was not, leaving them both incredibly self-absorbed and filled with self-doubt and self-hatred. Like their parents, they overuse the word “self”, but have few useful skills outside of home brewing and the cultivation of unusual hair. They spend most of their time waxing nostalgic about punk rock and resenting their children for inventing best-selling apps. Gen-Xers did not have a war to die pointlessly in and are unreasonably bitter about it.
GENERATION: Baby Boomers
PRIMARY ATTITUDE: Boundless and toxic self-enthusiasm
RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER GENERATIONS: Proprietary obliviousness
CULTURAL TOUCHSTONES: The Grateful Dead, Woodstock, red convertible sports-cars
DEGREE OF IRONY: Inoperative
AGE OF PEOPLE THEY CONSIDER OLD: 80+
The “Baby Boomers” were the product of unrestrained fucking by a group of people who had both lived through the Great Depression and defeated the Nazis. As a result, they were given a degree of material comfort and attention unprecedented in human experience, and naturally grew into the most obnoxious and horrible little shits in history. Having failed to save humanity in the 1960s by a combination of Eastern religious dabbling and hair growth, they went on to become the most horrible capitalists imaginable. All the other generations disagree on pretty much everything else, but it is universally acknowledged that the Baby Boomers are the fucking worst.
GENERATION: The Silent Generation
PRIMARY ATTITUDE: Not actually as silent as you might think, given the name
RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER GENERATIONS: Fear and loathing
CULTURAL TOUCHSTONES: The Beatles, Packard automobiles, lung cancer
DEGREE OF IRONY: Vicious and reflexive
AGE OF PEOPLE THEY CONSIDER OLD: Centenarian
Also known as the “Lucky Few” because they were too young to fight in the Second World War, a nickname that fell out of favor when they became unpleasantly aware of the existence of Korea and Vietnam. The Silent Generation spent most of their time pretending that black people did not exist, and fill the frequently confusing role of the Generation X of the 1950s, but have recently come back into favor by virtue of their stylish clothing and cigarette habits. The Silent Generation are more responsible than any other demographic for the presence of obnoxious uncles you only see on holidays.
GENERATION: The Greatest Generation
PRIMARY ATTITUDE: Nicknamed themselves “The Greatest Generation”, which is kind of a tip-off
RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER GENERATIONS: Patronizing, withering scorn/confusion
CULTURAL TOUCHSTONES: The Andrews Sisters, genocide, SPAM
DEGREE OF IRONY: “Save that crap for the Gestapo man who stuck a knife in my eye, junior”
AGE OF PEOPLE THEY CONSIDER OLD: Deceased
On the one hand, we owe these people a lot, because they lived through the worst economic depression of all time, fought the Germans and Japanese in WWII, and hod to learn the jitterbug at a time when they weren’t even allowed to drink. On the other hand, they gave birth to the Baby Boomers, so they pretty much destroyed the world. So, a bit of a push, I guess. At any rate, they are mostly all dead at this point, and only appear in the news when someone publishes an article where they tell a reporter they smoke eight packs of cigarettes a day and only eat gin popsicles and canned tomatoes. Can be very entertaining due to the faces they make when you ask them what they think of Millennials.