I’m watching the latest season of Survivor which, in its eternally quixotic attempt to be relevant, is generation-focused. “Gen X vs. Millennials.”
According to the Survivor website, Gen X is defined as “anyone born between 1963 and 1982.” Millennials include “anyone born between 1984 and 1997.”
This begs several questions, not the least of which involves the first mainstream media admission to the strange fact that nobody was born in 1983.
In the show, the millennial generation is portrayed as a bunch of futurists. Essentially leaderless, and incapable of producing or accepting leadership, they are ADHD gadget heads that work best as high-minded individuals and dreamers. As unfocused artists, they are largely incapable of any real world abilities and are a source of endless drama.
Meanwhile, the Gen X “tribe” is portrayed as hard-working, salt of the Earth types. Gen Xers, according to Survivor, worked hard to get where they are. They respect leadership and organization. They’re basically a Roman legionary cohort ready to march 1000 miles and fight without a break. The Millennials laugh and laugh about this, saying how fuddy duddy and silly the Gen Xers are for lacking vision and spontaneity and what have you. Of course they don’t use words like “spontaneity” because no self-respecting Millennial would actually, you know, go to school. School’s for conformists – like Gen Xers!
I find all this perplexing. Mainly because, as a Gen Xer, my entire childhood and young adult life was spent under the shadow of our parents, the Baby Boomers, and their fucking fascist parents, the so-called “Greatest Generation.” The generation that collected skulls and Hitler Youth daggers and Japanese ears and taught us that no means yes and casually nuked civilian targets and were all like “Ooh, I love blood and gore smear it on me oooooh god yeeesss…”
Those people – the fascists and their PTSD children – considered Gen X to be fucked up. We were called “the lost generation” before someone thought “Gen X” was a bit more politically correct. As far as everyone was concerned, “Gen X” meant we weren’t able to take a dump without smearing shit all over our faces like mongoloid baboons. We were leaderless, unfocused, and gadget-minded. We would never amount to anything. We were a fucking, disgusting disgrace.
And, now, in 2016, the Millennials all treat us like we treated our parents and grandparents. But here’s the thing – if we, the Gen Xers, were so fucked up and useless that we couldn’t be trusted with utensils, houses with stairs in them, or sharp corners… What’s that say about the Millennials who, apparently, look up to us as the elders?
Or is Survivor just a fucking pandering farrago of desperate ratings-seeking madness?
(Yes. Sorry. I should have led with that.)
Yes, because when I think of our generation I think of a hard-working, pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps, grizzled group of men and women. We were raised in hardscrabble times before there were cell phones and the interwebs….before gays could get married and our every thought wasn’t spelled out and shared in a tweet or blog. It was a dusty, sepia-toned time of scratching out a term paper on a dot-matrix printer and drinking out of cups, because bougie bottled water was only for the country club set, and the only brand was Evian. Clad in our flannel and Doc Martens, we fought our way through the dot.com meltdown and lived to tell the tale.
Now….where’s my “Reality Bites” CD. I like to listen to it while I check on my 401k.