X’ers, Y’ers, and the next generation…

Personally, I hate the thought of a generation being named before they come of age. It’s not very fair to an entire age group to be criticized before they have the power to change the world around them.

Was “The Greatest Generation,” (The GI Generation) called as such prior to them fighting the Second World War? Not a chance. Were sociologists lining up in the early 1930’s to coin a phrase for the now-called “Greatest Generation”?

Nope. They got the chance to prove themselves with a half-century of history before their name stuck. That’s a rather unbelievable advantage when you consider that Americans born between 1995-2015 are ALREADY being called “The Next Silent Generation.”

Come on, people. The oldest members aren’t even 8 years old yet. Are people seriously under such a blanket of ignorance that they’re now naming UNBORN generations, let alone generations that have yet to come of age?

No. There’s actually an explanation of that habit of naming generations before their time.

Getting back to the topic of X vs. Y…culturally, I’d rather be an X than a Y. There’s quite a bit of dispute about the generational “borders”; some claim that the X’ers last birth-year was 1975, some place them as being born as late as 1984.

Well, it turns out that generations come not from a linear set of dates, but instead by the cultural and political experiences and memories collectively held by an age group.

For instance, early Y’s may remember the Berlin Wall falling, but they really didn’t get a picture of what life was like before that event.

One of the single biggest “X” to “Y” markers is that X’ers came of age prior to the internet revolution. X’ers remember the end of the cold war clearly and recall the Challenger explosion.

I was a little taller than our television when the Challenger shuttle exploded. It was lunchtime, and I remember sitting in the living room with Mom. “Oh my god,” she said, “It exploded! Look, Joey…the spaceship blew up!”

Not even three years old yet. Imagine that. Again, I remember seeing it, but I had no understanding of what it meant. I knew a spaceship blew up and that a lot of people were sad. I remember seeing the video of the disintegration again and again. The repetition burned the image into my head, especially at such a young age.

While I try to edge myself into Generation X by recalling their major turning points, the case can be made that my generation is truly defined by the proliferation of the information age after the newly unified internet took on a flashy new label–the World Wide Web.

While I remember the Challenger and the Berlin Wall, the early incarnation of MTV and the Reagan years, these events weren’t developmental coming-of-age changes for me–they were normalized and categorized memory from the earliest reaches of defined neural capacity.

While I hate the label “Y,” the truth remains–I came of age at the same time the internet did. Being 16 in 1989 was far different from being 16 in 1999.

What I fear, though, is the generation succeeding “Y”. So as not to be a hypocrite for naming a generation before they’re even a decade old, let me put it this way:

Anyone born after 1991 would have been ten years old or younger during the 9/11 attacks, meaning that their picture of “normalcy” in their coming-of-age is a nation of fear…a nation of declining constitutional freedom, education, prosperity, and healthy political debate.

This is how we label generations “before they’re hatched”, so to speak…we take their cultural experience and try and find their perception of normalcy.

If their perception of a nation in normalcy is one in
which rights are exchanged for false security, one in which the power of our executive leaders goes unquestioned and unchecked by the greater part of the governing body, then what exactly are we teaching them?

Innovation and Dissent are treacherous, even treasonous. Follow the leader.

The way I see it, if the X’ers and Y’ers don’t get off their asses in the next decade or so, what are we passing on the the Millennial generation?

If we sit by the wayside, idling our political engines until we’re 30 years old, then we’re already too late. We’ve just passed the message onto our successors that it’s alright to be silent, it’s okay to be scared, and that Papa President knows best, even if he’s a man who gives a crude smile and sneer when he’s asked about our nation’s gutter war-du-jour.

Keep this in mind: when someone says something absolutely clichéd like “The children are our future,” there’s more meaning to that than a reprise of “We are the World.”

If, by example, we allow ourselves to succumb to the same cynicism that X’ers defend themselves against now, then what ideals do we leave to the Millennials?

I have two words in an equally clichéd and unforgivably awful pun: American Idle.

And The Clock Is Ticking…

Callan — Milsoothe Media)

According to the keepers of the clock, we are two minutes closer to Midnight. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists–which started as a newsletter in the late forties as a means of communication between atomic scientists worldwide–started a feature called “The Doomsday Clock” in 1947. Typically illustrated with a minute hand and 5-minute marks for the last quater hour, the clock was instituted as a measure of political and social stability (read: sobriety) in terms of the likelihood of Nuclear War.

Obviously the atom-splitting organization is a bit concerned with the current state of affairs–many factors were considered in the two minute shift forward, including the growing influence of climate change and the genetic manipulation of food sources and pathogens alike. Nuclear tension didn’t take a back seat, however: Last year’s North Korean bomb test and Iran’s engagement of a nuclear program were also key points in the decision.

On their official website, http://www.thebulletin.org/, the reasons for the two-minute advancement are as follows:

The world stands at the brink of a second nuclear age. The United States and Russia remain ready to stage a nuclear attack within minutes, North Korea conducts a nuclear test, and many in the international community worry that Iran plans to acquire the Bomb. Climate change also presents a dire challenge to humanity. Damage to ecosystems is already taking place; flooding, destructive storms, increased drought, and polar ice melt are causing loss of life and property.

The clock now reads 5 minutes to midnight. So what does that mean? Here are some historical examples:

  • The last time the clock was changed was in 2002, moving from 9 minutes to 7 minutes after the United States withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty following the events of 9/11. The Bush administration announced the development of sleeker and more contained nukes to burrow into the ground and destroy protected or hardened subterranean targets.
  • In 1998, the clock was moved forward from 14 minutes to 9 minutes. Pakistan and India fired test nukes within three weeks of each other, and despite the cold war ending nearly a decade before, Russia and The United States still had 7,000 warheads in a ready-to-launch state.

The last time The Bulletin placed us so close to midnight was over 20 years ago. In 1984, at what could be called the last icy peak of the Cold War, discussions between the two superpowers were at a minimum, and President Reagan made his intentions of pursuing a space-based missile defense system clear. At that time, the clock read three minutes to midnight.

The doomsday clock shouldn’t be taken as a fear-mongering device, but rather an alarm clock that—under ideal circumstances—would blare louder than any single political or religious squabble anywhere on earth. For instance, the 1991 reading of 17 minutes to midnight (the “safest” reading published in the clock’s sixty-year history) didn’t necessarily mean that the world was totally safe from nuclear destruction, but rather that the collapse in the former Soviet Union released many political tensions and created new opportunities for decline in the arms race. Just as that’s so, our present reading of 5 minutes doesn’t mean that we’re doomed; it’s a reminder that we’re not moving forward to secure the longevity—not of a race or a nation—but of the entire human species and our planet.

We’ve passed many tests in the last half-century regarding our tendency to fire instead of cooperation. Up to this point, with the power to devastatingly alter civilization and the future of the human family, our leaders have come to their senses—however closely to the last minute—and decided that it’s not worth covering the world in radioactive ash and heavy water.

Let’s hope that they continue to do so. As technology opens ever more doors to us, it will continue to be paired with a series of spiritual tests that gauge our responsibility under the following scoring possibilities:

Cooperate and live, or fight and die.

Though we continue to kill man to man, army to army—we have yet to press the big red button and begin killing warhead to warhead, continent to continent. The possibility is there, but it is this author’s hope that there’s something that matters more to the majority of my brothers and sisters than a flag, an ideology, or a religion—the survival of the human species itself.

Penguins are the new hot thing…

Which is kind of appropriate since they’ll be disappearing with the arctic ice. We’d better get our fill of them now while they still exist.

I actually read this somewhere: “be ready to see penguins in the 2007 ad season.” Ad season? When exactly does ad season run? Jan 5-December 31?

You people are savages.

<3 Joe