I love you millennials, I really do. The older I get the more important it is to plug myself into the mores of the younger generation for a bit of rejuvenation. No one wants to be a middle-aged duffer whose finger’s slipped off the zeitgeist trying to create a GIF of Chandler Bing’s’ face, but my god, you people are everywhere.
What a joy then to attend the 21st Birthday of Duckie last night and be surrounded by my own unique clan. The cynical, aimless and ever-adaptable Generation X who lived entirely for the pursuit of fun and still would. Never was a generation more dedicated to dancing like a demon on a podium than mine and that remains its defining esprit de corp.
To my mind, this thin filling in the baby boomer/millennial sandwich gets a bad rap. We were told we were directionless slackers, over-caffeinated and self-involved, and fair enough, many of us didn’t have a permanent job until we were twenty seven. We didn’t chase the corporate buck because we didn’t trust it, so we took our 2.1 liberal arts degree and did a McJob instead, waking up on a mid-week afternoon with our face in a pot noodle and no other ambition than to dish up last night’s shenanigans over a cappuccino. Give us an Alison Limerick piano remix and a new top and we were in heaven. Give us a Sex and the City box set and a painfully slow internet connection and we could be entertained for days. Who cares if by this point we were thirty three?
For all our arrested development, Generation X has tenacity. We might not be the natural heirs to the internet, but when others would have given it its P45, we stuck with it. We optimistic gurners committed to its potential, dialling it up and downloading enormous files through a BT cable like someone trying to pass a fridge freezer. True, this was largely motivated by FOMO – which incidentally we invented before it even became a thing – but some of us managed *eventually* to harness this unreliable fledgling and change the world. We are, if nothing else, the ultimate late bloomers.
So what of all this indolence and solipsism; this ‘shut up and dance’ mentality? Curiously it is what makes us the best placed generation to cope with the upheavals to come, growing as it did from a sense of deep rooted insecurity and mistrust. Generation X has been restructured, out-sourced and change managed within an inch of our lives. It’s all we know. Our parents are probably divorced and we’ve never had any time for authority. We saw the rise of AIDS, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of apartheid so we know what fear looks like and we understand even things that seemed permanent can be brought down.
Recently I went to an event where one of the speakers announced we were living in dark times. What struck me most about this remark was at the age of forty three, I have never heard anyone say this in my lifetime with such quiet conviction. With so much at stake it’s never been more important to celebrate freedom, diversity and the joy of the now. As every Generation X-er knows, not everything is about having a goal, but it is about having a value. And there’s no greater one than liberty. See you on the dancefloor.