Other Ten Percent 5/10/13

May 10 2013

So Time has published another insufferable “millennials are all narcissistic little shits and if we call them that on the cover maybe they’ll bother to actually buy a paper magazine to tell us how wrong we are” issue. I haven’t actually read the articles since Time’s trapped them behind a paywall but from what I can tell the article is split into two parts: a baby boomer explaining how all kids these days are lazy, narcissistic assholes that lack the industry to do any real work and then a glowing article about how one day we WILL have that industry and we’ll fix the world with our amazing new types of work (it’s amazing how we’re both lazy and multi-talented polymaths that can do five jobs at once. Guess that’s just the paradoxical skillset you get living in mom’s basement) along with our naturally sunny dispositions.

Once again though my real rage isn’t at the baby boomers who seem to be utterly convinced they’ve ruined their kids by telling them they can succeed in the world so often the little idiots actually believed it. Those arguments always sound like a parent explaining everything they did wrong in raising their kids for so long it becomes clear they aren’t apologizing so much as looking for someone to give them absolution and I end up feeling nothing except vague pity. Instead it’s the Gen X douchebags commenting on Time’s article that actually enrage me.

So far the most insufferable is an article at Wonkette where a bunch of 30 somethings lecture millennials endlessly about how entitled we are before kindly offering to join in with us on a friendly round of “uselessly yell at the man.” Like everything at Wonkette it’s so over the top I can’t be sure which comments they’re actually taking seriously and I can’t even be that mad at those. Don’t worry though, I’m sure some 34 year old white dude who runs a gadget blog or has his own youtube channel will be along shortly to pick up the slack.

See, at some point every blogger in their mid thirties figured out that the two sides of this argument are the Baby Boomers yelling that kids today are too lazy to fix the economy and all the 20 somethings screaming at their parents for fucking up the entire economy in the first place. And, since Gen X isn’t a part of either group, they quickly hit upon the brilliant idea that it’s BOTH groups fault because then they get to shit on twice the amount of people while still not taking any blame themselves.

But here’s a provocative thesis: Everything that’s wrong right now is Gen X’s fault and they need to get off their entitled faux-anti-establishment asses and do something about it.

Sure, it’s absolutely true that the Baby Boomer generation went off the reservation and utterly trashed the economy at the start of the millennium, but it’s not like they were the only people alive at the time. See the little fact Gen X keeps trying to ignore is that the global economy crashed on the baby boomer’s watch but you guys were supposed to be watching the baby boomers! They kept their WWII vet parents from completely wrecking the global economy when they all went insane in the late 60s but when it was your turn to mind the store you were all way too busy telling mom she just didn’t understand grunge to bother to fucking vote and now look what happened! Your complete disengagement with society as a form of protest didn’t do jack shit but let old assholes run the show. That might be slightly less infuriating if it seemed like any of you noticed. Instead you all wander around like you’re God’s gift to counter-culture because the Clinton years produced some good bands none of you were in and which don’t exist anymore anyway.

Meanwhile, in start-up culture, the only place you guys did manage to engage with the rest of the world, you broke everything so hard you turned breaking everything into a cardinal virtue. Now you’ve got the nerve to turn around and yell at us for not disrupting as hard as you did? The only things left to disrupt are your startups, which you seem to prefer we keep our hands off of, (good luck with that by the way) and the global financial system, which, it may shock you to learn, turns out to be slightly harder to disrupt than Capitol Records.

Listen, I get it, I’ve got to hustle if I’m going to make any money and you did too. This isn’t the first generation that’s had to work in four different industries simultaneously to do anything worth doing. But, you might look up from your desk every once in a while to notice that your 4 part time gigs in 2003 have somehow transitioned into an actual ass job and there don’t seem to be all that many of those to go around these day. Constantly shifting industries isn’t a transitional state anymore it IS the career path. Why the fuck do you think we all don’t respect our boss? They’re going to be our boss for like 18 months if we’re lucky and it’s even odds if we’re going to get fired before the whole company goes down in flames pretty much no matter what happens.

I’m sure that anybody in their thirties is going to say that this portrayal of their generation is unfair and congratulations, that’s probably accurate but also pretty much the whole point. The truth is that the economic clusterfuck we’re currently embroiled in is a combination of at least three different generations being totally unable to communicate with each other and the very idea of a generational grouping based on identical behavior is sort of ridiculous since the monoculture broke down (for instance I scored a 77% on this “how millennial are you” Pew Research quiz and somebody in their forties who I’ve worked with scored 92% sooooooo maybe not entirely accurate). I bring up the Gen X thing because somehow, 20 years after they utterly failed to rebel in any way that actually hindered him they still seem utterly convinced that they’re a singular generation removed from the rest of society and given how totally screwed we seem to be right now we could use all the help we can get.

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