Generational differences used to be a hot topic, back when I was at University studying art. I remember a book called ‘Generation X; Tales for an accelerated Culture” In 1987, The Author Douglas Coupland (who was born in 1961) wrote an article for Vancouver Magazine in which he lamented the lack of realization for people within his own birth cohort. A year later, he received a $22,500 forward from St. Martin’s Press to complete a handbook on the “generation” that he had outlined in the article.
I’m on the tail end of that Gen. Fast forward 20 years and what are we now?
Most articles describe us as Generation “Meh” Now in our mid thirties, we are happy with our lot! We are content. We are the also rans. We’ve done our thing, we have evolved, we’re up on our hind legs, the problem’s solved, but we are tired, we’ve got nothin’ to believe in… sung the much adored Nick Cave in his song “Go tell the Women”
We were, in my own experience, a generation that grew up in a time when our toys were choking hazards, things got tested on us. Medical things like new Asthma treatments. Our University and school subjects often got changed half way through doing them and we just had to cop it. We got thrown in the deep end. We didn’t often win anything. We still knew about kids who “repeated” school levels. Sometimes things never got finished. Sometimes we were left on the bench. We left home at 18. We got standard jobs, and that was O.K. Some of us started the “Cashed up Bogan” movement. Like a middle class Tradie yuppie. We bought McMansions, or, we didnt buy any property at all, content to rent for the rest of our time until we inherit a fortune from our grandparents, or our own first wave Baby Boomer parents. ( Since they wouldnt retire or make room for those looking for a job, we might be waiting a while)
I’m not one to repost those often ill informed pictures with words on them that say “when I grew up we played in the street until the sun went down and we never got molested”… We did, but there was no social media back then, just the town grape vine. Kids still got into the same shit as they do now, you were just less likely to hear about it if their family didn’t want you to know. The same shit, they do now but we moved on… dealt with it however we needed to.
I’m the last of my kind.
Just about all my friends of my own generation have children now. At least one of them was conceived around the time of my 18th birthday party and are now young adults. If I had had kids from my first marriage they’d be about 12 or 13. What generation? Generation Z? I don’t even know how we can class pre-teen kids, or if we should push them into that mold just yet.
My Gen doesnt often worry about the whole Gen thing much.. like I said we are happy to coast along. But what about our younger Brothers and Sisters, who were the baby of the family?
When there is a Moral Panic. Then, suddenly people of our own Parent’s Gen, start to raise some nostalgia as a protective shield, like those pictures with words on them saying we’re worried that kids (meaning Gen Y) who got given medals just for showing up, are going to take over and rule the world… and then we’re all fucked. They’re the brothers and sisters who stayed living with mum and dad after we left.
The most recent example of this moral panic is the crack down on Drunken violence and the “Coward punch” as a King hit, has now been renamed by the mob, in an attempt to shame the action by wording it differently. (Incidentally, I find it funny that so many people spend so much time denying that grammar and spelling have any use, until the exception of when they have a use such as this. To make something Taboo.)
Now after two Men were killed by other men, in violent, probably more likely drug fueled fits of being a complete fuckwit, in the same area of Sydney there is demand for Pollies to make instant band aid policies. If some of you can’t play nice, none of you will play at all. Dudes are getting drank up in here and smashing heads with king hits and pretending to be WWF. Won’t anyone ban WWF? That shit is soo dang fake, people be copying that crap.
People who are pointing fingers have abandoned their own pigeon hole “Generation” but are happy to blame Gen Y, because Gen Y is Generation “Me”
But who the fuck are their parents? Actually they are the ones pointing the finger and calling Gen Y selfish and “entitled”. These so-called millennials ( Gen Y ) are mostly the children of baby boomers, and at more than 82 million strong, they now outnumber the members of the boomer generation. These guys were born in the 80s and 90s, theyre our younger sisters and brothers. These guys stayed at home into their 20s. They had shit handed to them on a plate, according to their parental generation, actually unwilling as they were to let them move out and live their own lives.. (my last baby can’t leave!). It’s Baby Boomers who call their own kids, Selfish, narcissistic and entitled. But it’s the Baby Boomers who made them that way.
To me it’s almost like Frankenstein’s Monster. These attitudes were created by the very people who abhor it the most. Those kids with those attitudes don’t care what you think. They’re done with your shit. They do what they want, because you have always let them. They don’t feel much.
But let’s look at young men’s attitude toward masculinity first. You live at home with your momma? Oh yes son, I’m talking to you. What does this popular culture song by TLC from the 90s tell us?
Can’t get with a dead beat. By the time guys of my Gen got to 1999, they still shrugged their shoulders about this sort of social comment because it wasn’t about them. Gen Y take it to heart. What are they supposed to be like? Who are their role models? Who are they in society? When left to sit long enough, all things return to their lowest state. In this case it might be Apes, and frankly it’s that or Hipster. They’ve been called entitled, but have found that once they’ve flown the coop, they aren’t really. They can’t get a job, even at the end of studying at Uni. ( again, retire already Baby boomer gen!) They will probably never be able to afford a house in a major capital city. Frustration and way, way too many of them in one place has boiled over. Social media has fed the narcissism, sure… but the stigmatism shouldn’t stop at Gen Y. We need to look at young men and how they are viewed in society and in the community. We need to look at why young men drink, take drugs and get into shit on a Saturday night in places like Kings Cross. Is it really a lack of direction, or sense of an achievable future? Is it just that like Gen Y, My Gen, that They’ve got nothing to believe in, but they want something to believe in.. or is it that they don’t know how to Man?