Sunday, March 7, 2010

Where Have All the Slackers Gone?

Ran across this short item in a recent issue of The Week magazine.

Only a decade ago we were deeply concerned about the meandering fate of Generation X, a cohort of natural-born clerks so unambitious it couldn't even muster a proper name for itself. Swaddled in grunge and flannel, benumbed by rap music ("a great big cultural cancer," as one critic called it), Gen X was marked not only by its unwholesome aversion to work but by its members' vague yet ostensibly crippling anxieties--a result of the latchkey lassitude of their broken families.

It was authored by one of The Week's executive editors, Francis Wilkinson, who goes on to speculate about the reasons why the slackers may not be slacking any more.

For starters, the towers of 9/11 erupted, burying youthful idylls beneath their toxic lava. That eruption was followed by two wars, for which Gen X has provided much of the blood and courage, and finally by a financial collapse brought on by the overreach of just about everyone but slackers.

And he ends up almost grudgingly admitting that perhaps "The Kids Are Alright."

In hindsight, those genial, laid-back slackers don't look like the end of civilization at all, but like its gentlest, most innocent eyes.

I'm not sure where to begin with this. Perhaps Mr. Wilkinson should read Jeff Gordinier's X Saves the World, to get a better idea about what Gen X has been doing for the past ten years and what all that "slacking" was about in the first place.

But what really struck me about the article was the way its tone sounded similar to the way I've heard Xers talk about Millennials. Meadering fate. Unambitious. Unwholesome aversion to work. Crippling anxieties. Sound familiar?

I wonder if ten years from now us Xers will also lift our noses off the grindstones they've been pressed to and realize that those "molly-coddled Millennials" actually figured out how to grow up and take responsibility for the society we've given them--the same way some Boomers seem to now realize that the world may actually be safe in our hands.


catthacker said...

Hi Eric. You have posted some very insightful stuff here and elsewhere on your blog. Its nice to see some countering points of view to the stereotypes society keeps smothering us with. Keep it coming! (Carol-Anne Moutinho, fellow blogger from the ARC)

Eric Lanke said...

Thanks, Carol-Anne. Most people easily pick up on the generational stereotypes. What are often missed are the stereotypes that all generations have about the generations that follow them.

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