630

From the mid-60s to the early-80s, Western culture experienced a period known as the ‘Consciousness Revolution’. It started with Vietnam protesting, and the development of counterculture for counterculture’s sake. Green, feminist, black power, and a number of other movements came out of this period. There was a generation gap, with the Greatest Generation on one side, and the Baby Boomers on the other.

This is the environment in which the Baby Busters and the Generation X crowd were born and raised.

Gen Xers (as I’m sure you all remember), grew up at the end of the Cold War, and watched multinational corporations come to power at the same time as the Soviet Union collapsed, developing cynicism and disdain for the works of the generations past. We can call this cynicism The Nirvana Effect.

In any case, Gen Xers tended to band together, and build their own works and communities, rather than rely on the ones they inherited. Whether it was a revival of political action, development of record labels, or the entrepreneurships which led to the dot-com boom, they banded together, and built things.

…and then, of course, came the hilariously and iteratively named Generation Y. Gen Y grew up with computers in their schools, didn’t watch the Challenger explode, and only saw the Berlin Wall fall in history class. IT has always been a part of the world around them, and like Gen X, they banded together, and built things. While these things may consist of elements as distasteful as pop punk, emo and That’s So Raven, they still built things.

However.

There was a gap of several years between Gen X and Gen Y. Not a big one, just a few years. The people born in this gap are creatively called Generation XY, or The No Generation (although I prefer The Doom Generation).

They grew up in a very narrow transition period. Young enough to enjoy The Simpsons as a cartoon when it first aired, and old enough to enjoy it as comedy genius when the Cape Feare episode aired. Old enough to remember when Nintendo led the world out of the darkness after The Great Video Game Crash.

They watched the Berlin Wall fall, and were the last people to be born with any memory of life during the Cold War. They grew up with Carmen Sandiego and TMNT, and watched technology move from the realm of research and sci-fi into BBS networks, and the creation of the World Wide Web.

However.

There aren’t really many of them, comparatively speaking. They’re not large enough of a demographic to be marketed to by advertisers, or addressed by politicians. The ‘great albums’ of the late 80s and early 90s had already been written and released, and the great TV shows were absent, or incomprehensible. Too late to have seen Battlestar Galactica, and too young to know what the fuck was going on in Twin Peaks. They had Saved By The Bell instead, which, while featuring a cast of characters and a puntastic premise (Principal Belding. Saved By The Bell. Bells go ‘ding’. Get it?), still sucked hairy goat balls.

This generation is markedly characterized by a complete lack of association or identity with the popular or political movements that were present as they grew up, or that developed afterwards. They did not band together, they did not build things. They just watched the world as everything happened around them.

While usually I can fake being part of the older Gen X world with my overwhelmingly Gen X friends, or pretend like I understand what the fuck those little Gen Y jerks are on about, I can’t do it today.

Today, I feel exactly like the out of place person-without-a-culture that I am.

32 thoughts on “630

  1. Wandering Wikipedia, I found [under the listing for Baby Boomers] a sidebar that listed the north american ‘generations’ and I have to disagree a little with the dates.

    They show the boomers as running to ’64, though echo [or shadow] boomers really make up half of that generation… and from my experience, boomers really ended in ’61.

    They offer Babybusters as running to ’68 but I think this is a false generation… merely a tag put in place for people who don’t HAVE a generational label.

    Gen X is slated as starting in ’61 but I’d put it closer to ’64 or ’65 to be hoenst.

    So there’s ’61 to ’64/5 where again there are those without labels, without the nuclear-familial focus, the protestant work ethic and the horror of the bomb/war of the boomers and without the independent media driven creativity of the Xers.

    I’m right in there.

    Though I don’t blame my ‘generation’ [or unlabeled sliver generation] for my life, my place, I do recognize it’s impact on me. And I see it in others my age.

    The boomers are beginning to die off, the Xers are taking over the world and the Yers are right behind them, champing at the bit. And there are some of us what fall in between, where the generational influence is in flux and not defined… where it’s dropped the last generation’s tags and influences and not yet solidified those of the next… and we get to watch. A lot.

    But without watchers, there would be no history.
    We watch because watching, no matter how much they slam it, is just as important as doing.
    Y’can’t have a show without an audience.

    And yet, m’friend [and happy birthing day, by the by, as I know it’s coming up and I’ll miss the exact day *heh*] you and I and many in our little slivers between the influences seem to be doing more in being part of the show than merely watching… we’re just doing it in places and ways no one else really thinks of.

    The advantage of being without a generation is… we are not bound by a generation *nod*

  2. I’ve not read something like that in a long time. A simple, and more general use of Canadian culture I read was, Sex in the Snow. Your topic is danced around and never directly mentioned. Not read it since it came out.

    I think I’m in the same spot. It can be lonely at times.

  3. from what i recall, and it has been many years, i came at the end of Gen X. i do not fit in with them but i was born in 73. so where do i “fit”? if, by what you are saying, it’s 77+ that are the Gen XYers does this mean i didn’t have a generation at all? did 73 to 77 miss out? or am i really to fit with Gen X afterall… this puzzles me.

    regardless, i still feel i don’t have a place to “fit” in with. the older i get, the less i belong.

  4. I’m not assigning value, I’m just sharing observations. I don’t think this is an issue particularly well-suited to morality.

  5. That’s a false dilemma, my friend. I can lament a lack of community without running into the arms of determinism.

  6. So you are trying to put down a snapshot of you at this second, as this somewhat atypicle emotional state is one that you share to provide insight into yourself?
    You see, I’m trying to understand, not argue. I know I’m a troll, but in this case I wasn’t trying to debate, just understand. I’m not looking for an arguement (this time, I happily will other times :) but just to understand what’s being said.

  7. So you are trying to put down a snapshot of you at this second, as this somewhat atypicle emotional state is one that you share to provide insight into yourself?

    That’s about right. I wouldn’t like to have been born any earlier or any later, I’m very happy with where I came in, technology-wise. I’m just trying to describe some of what comes with that.

  8. I guess I’d fall squarely into GenY, but I’ve never really thought of myself in those terms… I don’t even know what GenY is supposed be like, really.
    I’ve always felt very much outside any cultural categories/groups, but that had to do with growing up in two really different countries and going back and forth all the time, not with when I was born.
    Also, I find that an increasing number of my friends these days are in their 30s or early 40s and I feel no “generation gap” with them at all, outside their occasional reference to that concert they went to in ’83 or something.

  9. Ah, think I got it. Not just that the media makes you feel like an anachronism, but just exactly what the triggers are?
    At this point I’d say that you might be happy with where you came in technology wise because that’s when you can in and your experiences that made you were those events. If you had come in another time, you hold your life precious enough that you would probably say the same thing. Still, that would be speculation and all you could really do is look at me and say “Yeah, or not I guess.”
    Good to hear you’d rather give determinism a slip though, it’s as silly as religion to me. Hell, it’s the backbone of many religions. Now, Science Fiction, that’s where the REAL money is…

  10. Not just that the media makes you feel like an anachronism, but just exactly what the triggers are?

    Again, that’s about right. As for when I came in, I can state fairly objectively (given the subject matter) that technologies came in at the perfect time for me to be able to enjoy them. Nintendo Entertainment System when I was six, 14.4 modems and the Super Nintendo when I was eleven, the web when I was thirteen, the first real Photoshop when I was sixteen, powerful and professional standalone music software when I was nineteen-twenty-ish… it all fit rather neatly.

    …and determinism is for the intellectually lazy and the irresponsible.

  11. Thanks for the snapshot. It obviously got me thinking.
    Determinism, it brought us Manifest Destiny. How could it be a crap idea?

  12. Hey, we were grunge, too. And the trenchcoat Mafia.

    We grew up entirely free of war.

    And, when the boomers retire, it’s going to be US that take control.

  13. We weren’t, though. The rave generation was people like Frankie Bones, and grunge was Kurt Cobain. Neither of them are anywhere near my age.

  14. even though it is listed through 77 as Gen X….I really fit more with your Doom Generation as it is called and I was born in 75.

    I totally feel you on this one

  15. Man, this was perfect, I’d never even thought about a description like this, though I’ve felt any inch of it. Though I was born in 76, I never once identified with the Gen X crew, as they were the Winona Ryder trying-to-be-hip-but failing-and-just-looking-aged crowd. They always seemed to work in record stores or book stores, while I was home taking apart VCRs and shit.

    Anyway, seriously this was dope as hell.

  16. man… I don’t fit ANY of your descriptions including the “xy” one. None of these “generations” ever accepted me as one of their own. I don’t qualify for funding. Sorry. :P

  17. I’m another who is between these generations. I don’t know many people my age, as we are a small blip between the generations, but most put those born in ’63 into the Boomer Generation.

    I definitely don’t fit into the Baby Boomers…I’m not a big fan of the Beatles, and many of the people I talk to of my age or older look at me in horror when I tell them I listen to Marilyn Manson. They edge away from me when I talk about Raves, Hip Hop music; and many don’t use computer as much as I do…not a few think that I am being rude if I tell them to read my LJ to keep in touch with me.

    ttyl

  18. Good Article.

    Part of my fear right now is that the elder part of the Boomer Generation is hitting the “Dreaming of the past Golden Age” stage of their life…things have changed too much for them, and they hold just enough power to try and re-create the “Golden Age” of their late teens and early 20s that really, only exists in the soft focus of their minds. The Neo-Con movement is a manifestation of this…they dream of the time when Rightous Christianity held great power, preventing sex before marriage, same sex relationships, abortions, crime, and all the so-called general social decay they think they see now.

    But the reality is that there was always all of that happening, it was just hidden better.

    ttyl

  19. *nod* I’ve found a marked difference in personality and the way a person interacts with society in those born between ’61 and ’64, VERY noticable when compared to those born in the bulk of years before and after that little margin.

    Influences do not change with a snap, a smell of cordite and a sudden shift to the left. Influences, particularly on the society-effecting level, take time to switch over, resulting in a short period of confusion and disorganization when there IS not huge level of influence. This is what produces, I think, these little “between generation” groups.

    I know that those just marginally older than I don’t like computers in the large, don’t understand the music and can’t relate to those of us in this ‘between group’ who remain in various subcultural segments [goths, punks, fen, etc]. Yet those just barely younger don’t seem to remember “how it was before the internet” though they were there, they don’t have an appreciation for the older forms of music [from the 20s to the 50s] and many have all ready forgotten the lessons we’ve had taught us from the recent past.

    But being in between… means y’get to see all the good stuff, I think *grin*

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