The “Lost” Generation

Falling through cracks has always been a specialty of mine. Wrong time. Wrong place. Not quite a fit. Too much of this for that. Too much there for here. Exceptions to the rule move to the back (or the front) of the room, please.
Not that I’ve minded, particularly. It becomes sort of definitional, and one’s bound to gain perspective watching the floorboards slip by. Perhaps that’s why I’m mildly amused to note that Mark Patinkin, apparently inadvertently, cuts people my age right out of the generational narrative. There was the Counterculture/Pepsi/Me/Yuppy/Baby Boom Generation. Then, “born betwen 1964 and 1974 or so,” came the Baby Bust/Generation X Generation. Currently coming into its own is the Generation Y/Millennial Generation, now “age 21 to 29.” Born in 1975, I’ll be 33 next month. It would seem that makes me a member of the Or So Generation.
Personally, my late-’70s-born peers and I have tended to identify with the Gen-Xers, but we’ve always felt as if we’d just made the cut. We got the grunge thing, but most of us couldn’t stay out late enough for the concerts.
I’d like to think that our slipping through these artificial cutoffs makes us a class of chronological Levites. We’re not part of a defined generational tribe, but we’ve felt kindred to many. Our cultural sense floats between them.
On one end, we hadn’t yet hit the height of our hormonal lunge when AIDS slithered onto the scene, and during our most formative years (it seems) our parents in the Divorce Generation paused for reflection. On the other end, we’d logged hours of acclimation with Super Mario Brothers before the gaming industry got as far as Mortal Kombat and Doom. MP3 players are the step after 50-disc CD changers, not two steps before playlists downloadable directly to chips in our brains. We were largely through college (if we went) by the time the Internet exploded, so it is more a place to apply research skills than the source of all knowledge, but we hadn’t traveled far in our careers without it as a tool, so our comfort level is high.
Perhaps, as a subgeneration, we’ll prove to be the Undramatic. If that’s true, it would likely please a majority of us to fall in one of those population spans probably to be found in any society undergoing tremendous change: understanding that the innovations are cool, useful, and often beneficial to humanity, but they don’t change the essence of life, just as our parents’ cultural revolution didn’t erase human nature.

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16 years ago

Isn’t there a Gen-Y’er too?

Justin Katz
16 years ago

Mark Patinkin listed “Generation Y” as a synonym for the Millennial Generation.
I’ve added the phrase to my post for clarity.

Tom W
Tom W
16 years ago

FWIW Justin, count your blessings. I’m officially classified as a “baby boomer” yet have always hated being lumped in with “them.”
I was in grade school / junior high during the what is considered the “baby boomer” period. I was in second grade when Kennedy was assassinated. I experienced the “Summer of Love” and “Woodstock” watching the coverage on Walter Cronkite / CBS Evening News with my parents.
In other words, my formative years weren’t of the generally accepted baby boomer experiences of the idealism of JFK’s “New Frontier” and LBJ’s “Great Society”; Beatle-mania; Summer of Love; LSD; anti-war protests or Woodstock.
My formative / teenage years were the 1970’s and gas lines; inflation; Nixon’s “I’m not a crook” Watergate – Gerald Ford’s “Whip Inflation Now” and Jimmy Carter’s “malaise.”
(Not to mention – I’m gagging as I type this – disco and idiots in white leisure suits and gold chains trying to look just like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. I at least managed to make it through the decade without ever owning a leisure suit!)
My 1970’s formative years explain how at a young age I learned that in general government is incompetent and not a positive force in society – that the whole “New Deal / New Frontier / Great Society” are naively idealistic at best, and with time have proven to be a cynical manipulation diverting taxpayer dollars for the benefit of certain political and special interests while harming the very “underprivileged” people ostensibly the targets of this taxpayer beneficence.
I’ve always resented being lumped in with the self-righteous and self-absorbed Clinton – Kerry types who like pushers cynically peddle the “Great Society” drug for the furtherance of their ego-driven political careers.
So be glad Justin, at least nobody’s lumping you in with the “boomers!”

don roach
16 years ago

1977 for me Justin.
Most studies I’ve seen have Gen X from 63/4 to 83/4.
I hadn’t read a study that stops it short as the article you cite. I’m certainly no Gen Y guy, and like you I’m old enough to recall the grunge era but was too young to actually participate, other than rocking out in my bedroom. I see our generation as one with, as yet, unmet potential. Our parents (generally) were boomers who may have caught the – can’t recall the term of young affluent folks of the 80s – ah I remember…yuppies. Our parents were yuppies who in the 80s were really older than the 20-something image portrayed on t.v. and seemingly had abandoned some of the idealism of the 60s for ‘nice things’.
We’ve just been caught in between two technological eras, methinks, and really never had a ‘war’ that defined us. I think we’re the first generation in a long time without such an event.

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