April 24, 2006

Re-generating Reading

My reading material varies widely - candy-coated, saccharine, mindless romances one day, Show Boat or The Brothers Karamazov the next.

Lately I've been reading Strauss & Howe's book on the Millenial generation, entitled Millennials Rising. I myself am a Gen X-er (born 1961-1981): I'll care about an issue if I want to care about an issue. Don't try to make me believe the government knows what it's doing and will take care of me; I'm too much of a realist to believe you. Defining moment of my generation? I remember seeing the Challenger blow up on television over and over again in an elementary school classroom.

I'm much more of an individualist than a team player. So there's no "I" in "team"? Big deal; there's an "I" in "win".

I am actually enjoying the book; it helps me understand why my generation is so cynical vs. the Millennials (born 1982-2002), who were raised with "Baby on Board" mottoes in the windows of their kid-friendly minivans.

What surprises me is the resentment I feel. My parents are still happily married to each other; my mom was at home when I needed her, not just through grade school but through college; and I never felt like I was the reason Mom or Dad didn't achieve their "full potential" career-wise. My anger is for the nebulous group of Boomer parents who woke up and realized what their ideals of rebellion and individualism did to us - but it was too late to do anything about the disenchanted Generation X, so they focused instead on the Millennials.

I'm hurt on behalf of my generation that we got written off. I agree with Deanna Beppu:
I sort of feel bittersweet about all this attention and praise that the Millennials are getting. If we Gen Xers probably share one common memory, it's how the adults in the world just forgot about us in terms of education, structure, values, and family support. And it does seem ironic and cruel that now the new kids are getting all the attention because suddenly the adults woke up and realized that we Gen Xers didn't turn out right. It's like our elders conveniently forget that they were supposed to be there for us, too.

Think about the issue of school bullies. I remember being tormented a bit by older kids - and I remember my sister having run-ins with an older, bullying girl on the school bus. The response was a "suck it up and deal with it" attitude by authority figures. These days, we're so concerned that bullies not simmer to the point of enacting another Columbine that students get yanked into the principal's office according to "Zero Tolerance" policies if they wear an overly opinionated t-shirt. I'm not arguing this change is all bad; I'm wondering why it wasn't important before.

I don't want a victim mentality. I don't want to hold grudges. I just want to understand this social grouping I've been with since birth. I want to know how to use who I am to serve following generations the best way I can.

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