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Nov 19, 2017

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Electric Jester
by Steve Castle
Magazine Issue: Vol. 2.4
T H E . E L E C T R I C . J E S T E R
my generation
N E X T P A G E >

I'm confused. I don't know what generation I belong to. I was born in 1961, which technically puts me at the tail end of the baby boomer generation. But I don't feel as if I'm a part of that. Baby boomers are now successful business people and presidents and excessive campaign contributors who drive BMWs and Saabs and Volvos and are starting to put kids through college. I'm still a full tier below that. I drive a Honda and a Jeep, and I'm putting a two-year-old through potty training. I don't identify with baby boomers, and I certainly don't identify with yuppie baby boomers.

But you know what? I don't identify with the Generation X stereotype either. I don't live with three other twentysomethings in some MTV "Real World" skit. I don't listen to grunge, and I don't treat flannel as a cutting-edge fashion statement. However, I'm far more Generation X than I am baby boomer. I identify with youthful idealism, healthy cynicism and vending machine junk food. I grew up on TV, and now I despise it. The computer is my communicative culture -- video marketers be damned.

I know many others have this generational identity crisis. After all, there were plenty of people born from about 1960 to 1967 who haven't yet died of drug overdoses and who don't fit into either of the two huge marketers' demographic wet dreams. We're tweeners. We're ignored. We've fallen through the cracks, baby. We're bad.

We're also scarred because the formative years of our pubescence took place during that cultural pothole called the 1970s. Our psyches were formed and torn by piecemeal memories of the Brady Bunch and the Bee Gees and the dawning of androgynous rock bands. We were the TV test tube guinea pigs. And now we've mutated into presumably responsible adults.

We remember vividly the drunken collegiate splendor of wanting our MTV and now really, really don't want our MTV. We remember using typewriters and video display terminals and feeling computer-literate before the days of Windows. We worked in supermarkets before they became superstores and shopped in bookstores before they were designer coffee shops. Weird, isn't it?

The marketers can't stereotype us because, well, we're so incredibly fucked up. We're unique, we're different, we're a dip in the demographic chart that's more convenient to ignore than to cater to. And if that slight tailing off of a population was the result of a drop in human intercourse or a drop in sperm count, thank God for that.

We don't want a name for our generation because we've seen what it's done to yuppies and slackers. They've become the Guccis and the flannels, the soft rock and the grunge, the wine spritzers and the microbrews.

I know it's not fair to stereotype. You're different than that. I know that, and you know that. But in the real world of marketing, you're Gucci or flannel, soft rock or grunge, yuppie or slacker. And they want you just the way they think "you are."

I'll stay ignored, thank you very much.

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