code-switching

I was born in 1981. I feel like people older than me are definitely Gen X, and people younger than me are definitely Millennial. I’ve made my peace with living on the borderline, but I’d like your take on what are the defining differences. Is it what generation your parents were? Or is it more complicated?

Best,
Bigenerational

Ah yes, life on the generational borderline, where it may or may not feel like you’re going to lose your mind.

Your question reminds me, like so much does, of George Carlin, whom I once saw at the car-rental counter of the Philadelphia airport when I was about 17, on a trip with my dad — but who nevertheless, somehow, has made his way into a story my MOM tells about how SHE saw George Carlin at the car-rental counter, which, when called out on it, she insists was a DIFFERENT trip and a DIFFERENT car-rental counter, and YOU WEREN’T THERE, REBECCA, OKAY? Typical Boomer move, inserting yourself everywhere.

Anyway, Carlin used to say: You ever notice how everyone driving slower than you is an idiot…but everyone driving faster than you IS A MANIAC? This is to say, I think part of your generation-spanning malaise is something we all have, which is to say that anyone older than we are is the g-d Cryptkeeper, and anyone younger than we are is a dipshit toddler who shouldn’t be trusted with sharp objects.

But part of your dillio, my bi-curious friend, is definitely 2 legit 2 quit. First of all, according to the television, Generation X doesn’t even exist. This motherfucker literally just skipped from Boomers to Millennials, LITERALLY SKIPPED THE ENTIRETY OF PEOPLE BORN BETWEEN 1964-1981.

That said, if THIS particular source is something you’d like to trust, then technically you’re the oldest Millennial in the world. And honestly, I couldn’t imagine anything worse. I really couldn’t. You have all of the scorn of the rest of the world, but presumably none of the abject self-involvement that makes you so busy chasing likes you don’t even notice. You remember what a bus stop is, so you’re not going to accidentally found a start-up called DRYVVE that offers a “large-vehicle rideshare that picks up DRYVVERS at regularly scheduled intervals” or whatever.

But you’re also not 40 yet, so none of the wizened, perimenopausal parents currently reckoning with our large-scale ignoring even as we hold the vast majority of middle- and upper-management jobs in the working world and thus LITERALLY HOLD IT TOGETHER — anyway, what was I saying, none of us take you seriously because you were born after 1980, which was the infrangible no-bang cutoff in college (you were a high-school junior when we were college seniors, so, NOPE), and still retains some sort of authority despite the fact that for all I know, you have a kid who’s a high-school junior yourself. It’s not fair, Bi-Gen, it really isn’t.

They call you Xennials. I’m sorry. I didn’t make it up. But you have a choice. You can take what you want from both generations, and you can leave the rest. So take the good stuff: From us, take the disdain for material success and proclivity for comfortable clothes. From them, take any shred of cultural relevance you can muster so that anyone who controls anything might listen to you. From us, leave the ineffectuality; from them, leave the narcissism. Make a ‘zine, don’t make an Instagram. You get where I’m going.

That’s Entertainment!*

*Gen-X in joke

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