September 6th, 2010

My Generation Is Zero

"You know," I said to my shrink this morning. "In most ways that matter our generation got totally screwed. But, in some ways, the way we got screwed made being a part of our generation really easy."

"What do you mean," she responded.

"Well, think of it this way. You've got the so-called Greatest Generation. Now, for the most part these guys were fucking losers. It took them 10 years to get over a stock market crash, they coddled Hitler for years and after World War II, they created a Cold War that almost killed us all. So, for the most part they did suck - but they did fight and win World War II, which, I'm sure wasn't easy and, in fact, was pretty awesome, so I have to give them major props for that."

"Ok," she said. "Go on."

"Then," I said, "you get the Baby Boomers. Now these fuckers started off great. Inventing rock and roll? Mad props. Protesting Vietnam? Total props. The Civil Right Movement? Mad props. But, then they fizzled. Once the 70s happened they started their slow descent into becoming pieces of shit. The same fucking generation that invented rock also invented warning labels because they were worried W.A.S.P. was going to turn their kids into Satanists. The same people who loved drugs when they were young created mandatory sentencing laws. And, you know what? It was their generation who ran the banks who sold shitty mortgages to members of my generation who are now going to be homeless. So, great start, but total fuckheads in the end."

"Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust," she commented.

"Yes," I replied. "Now think about Generation X or Generation Zero whatever you want to call us. The Baby Boomers decided before we had a chance to do anything that we were a bunch of fuck ups. They fucking coined the term slackers and their fucking media pounded it into us that we'd be the first generation to make less money than our parents. And time and time again they just kept saying that we were a generation of lazy assholes. Now, that sucks on many levels. But, it's also good, because all we had to do to beat expectations was get a fucking apartment and not live in their fucking basement. Seriously. If we had any kind of job at all we were completely defeating their stereotype of us. Even today, since my generation makes up, by far, the number of people being foreclosed on, if our home is not being auctioned off under our feet we are doing fucking great by the low fucking standards they set for us. We are the Generation Of Less Expectations."

"Feeling a bit Pip today are we," she asked. "Think about Dickens for a bit."

"Yeah, we are all fucking Dickens characters with cell phones," I said. "Except we aren't starving orphans."

"Do you think the Baby Boomers were generous with us," she asked.

"Well I got a lot of presents and went to a good school and I know you went to a good school too," I said. "So I suspect in our cases they were."

"You miss the point of what real generosity is," she said. "As did they. Real generosity would have been to not put their despair of their own failures on us. They were stingy with expectations. That's the problem. That's where the generational rage comes from. That's why anger in what happened to us is appropriate."

"You think," I said.

"Bart, think about it," she responded. "They were a generation that was given the most important thing a generation can have when they are growing up. Consistency. Their parents beliefs may have been wrong. The Greatest Generation was not kind to women or minorities. But they had a belief system and they stood by it. They always knew their parents to be a rock they could count on. And, their parents believed in them. We grew up with a generation of parents who turned their backs on their ideals. We got to see them watch the VHS box set of Woodstock when they came home from their job at the bank. We grew up with betrayal. And, in their guilt for turning their backs on what they believed in they belittled us - not individually, but as a group - because it made them feel better about themselves. That's why we rage against the machine."

"Damn," I said. "That makes sense."

"I know," she replied.