A few words from a Gen Xer to Gen Y
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Millennials, having grown up spoiled by their parents and wanting for nothing, are generally positive people, Stein went on to say. They are optimists, not realists, he said. They’re all technophiles, apparently more adept at performing web searches on their iPhones than riding bicycles, so the technological revolution that has shaped our nation for the past 50 years should be in good hands long after we older folks have retired. And, Stein wrote, millennials are entrepreneurial, accustomed to selling themselves on social media networks. So, business world, watch out. They’re coming, and they’re ready to take over.
The piece reminded me of the parade of columns and articles deriding Generation X that appeared in national and local publications in the mid-1990s. Gen Xers, who are now in their mid-30s to early 50s, were teens, 20- and early-30-somethings back then, portrayed in the media as cool –– and lazy and uncaring.
I was a 20-something Nassau Herald reporter and assistant editor back then. My wife was –– and still is –– a teacher. We owned a small apartment in Long Beach. We went to work every day at the same time that we were completing advanced studies. And, in addition to working 40-plus hours a week at the Herald, I free-lanced part-time. We worked so much, it seemed, that we barely had time to breathe, let alone party late into the night, as all Gen Xers were supposedly doing.
A Herald columnist, who was a member of the Silent Generation (1925-42) and is no longer with the paper, penned a piece lambasting Gen Xers one week. In response, I wrote a column in defense of my generation, which had not rebelled against the establishment, but rather was desperately trying to join it. The fellow insisted that he get the last word in a letter to the editor. It ran in the paper, but across the Five Towns, which was then my beat, people of all ages said how much they appreciated my piece. They understood that Generation X wasn’t simply a bunch of disconnected good-for-nothings that wore only grunge flannel and worshipped Nirvana.
We were a generation as diverse and hardworking as any other that had come before us.