by Benn Ray
Among the many shit-storms erupting last week, my favorite has to be the one caused by Joel Stein's Time Magazine cover story on the Millennials (previously Generation Y) - where he goes on to call an entire generation lazy, narcissitic, stunted, etc. Essentially, he did to the new, up and coming generation what previous generations have done to younger generations time and time again.
Well, more specifically, it's what Baby Boomers have been doing to other generations ever since the Greatest Generation pointed out their narcissistic qualities.
The thing I really feel bad about, however, is that the guy who is shitting all over the Millennials is a member of my generation, Generation X. We know better, having spent our entire lives in the shadow of the most narcissitic generation in history, the Baby Boomers. A generation that prides itself on "getting us out of a war" (Vietnam) only to send following generations into bogus and unnecessary wars. A generation that fully takes advantage of social programs like Social Security while telling younger generations they need to get used to the idea of not having those types of programs. A generation that... well, I could go on all day about Baby Boomers, but this isn't about them (no matter how much they like to believe everything is about them).
Stein's argument seems to both confuse the narcissism of youth with the narcissism of a generation and blame the Millennials for the technology they grew up with - just imagine what Boomers would be like if they grew up with access to smart phones, the internet, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
So on behalf of Generation X, I'd like to apologize to the Millennials for the dumbassery of the Time Magazine-sanctioned Joel Stein. We're not all like him, really. And don't take it too seriously. Being slandered in Time is a generational rite of passage. And in a few years, they'll do another cover article about you, taking it all back, saying that maybe they were wrong about the kids and they're not so bad after all (most likely after your generation takes over the editorial staff, that's what we did).
Also, just be happy that they've now stopped calling you "Generation Y." It was way too derivitave of my generation.
I agree with Stephen Colbert's comment at this past weekend's 2013 UVA commencement, "You do not owe the previous generation anything." In fact, we owe you. Well, honestly, the Boomers do. They owe us all.
But reading Stein's article and a lot of the responses to it, I was reminded of a series of articles I wrote for my college newspaper, The Salisbury Flyer, about 20 years ago (actually, it might be exactly 20 years go this month).
This was before the Generation X name had been permanently affixed to my generation. There was a lot of talk in the media about what to call us, but no one was really asking us - it wasn't put up to a vote - it was more like the media was crowd-testing brand names to see which was the most marketable, and I thought that perhaps we should have some say in what those of us born between 1960-1980 were called.
So I present those articles here, just for posterity (and well-deserved mockery).
Note: The articles appeared over serveral weeks in the campus newspaper. They intitially received little response while they were running but resulted in a fair amount of hate mail (which I, unfortantely, neglected to save) after I finished the series. They have been edited from their original format to form a more cohesive whole (and updated where it made sense, with a few corrections and a few minor editorial changes that I couldn't resist making).