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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Generation X or Y, Do or Die

The blog title is inspired by Loudon Wainwright III's song from the album Strange Weirdos. However, Wainwright is a Boomer. When I first started blogging, I ran into Generation Y like a crash test dummy runs into a car windshield. Generation Y runs most of the blogging world like Hugo Chavez runs Venezuela. Dogmatically and the courts or rule of law are not needed to change rules.

Generation X lurks on the outside with occasional rushes towards the forefront. Results are often comparable to Chavez's opposition party tactics. Therefore, when I interacted with the blogging community, I did it sparingly and specifically.

These generation musings were triggered by the book The Ask by Sam Lipsyte. The reviews declared that this was the latest voice of Generation X. Since the main character was a recent father, I almost too strongly identified with him. Combined with a recent perusing of Generation Y blogs, this led to my further think about Generation X and Y and the generational rivalry.

I am not including the Boomers in this generational musing because enough has been written about the boomers. Even USA Today wrote a series about the Boomers and a probling, controversial story for them is generally, "US still eats more hamburgers than India." This boomer series was inspired by the first wave of boomers turning 65. Boomers turning 65 strikes me more as an Outlook calendar reminder than the trigger of a generational examination.

This Boomer retirement wave may be the assassination of the archduke that triggers the full fledged generational rivalry as X and Y compete for the corporate and business spoils that are left behind. Some write that there is a closer alliance between Generation Y and the Boomers since they are more team oriented and optimistic. Generation X's response is that it's on like Donkey Kong as we don't intend to be passed over again. However, this may all be irrelevant as Boomers may figure out a way to take the spoils with them to their graves and hold their positions and power for life just like Hugo Chavez.

Generation X and Y's philosophical leanings also place them on a collision course for rivalry. From reading Generation Y blogs, I see their gurus are Tim Ferris and writers of self-improvement books. They look to Seth Godin about following their passion. They love writing lists of what they plan to accomplish.

Generation X looks to the book/movie Fight Club and wishes to subvert the mainstream or John Hughes movie about nerdy underdogs finally receiving societal acceptance through unconventional methods. We're too cynical for failed cycles of self-improvement. Our New Years resolutions are snarky vows to update our hard drives or use fewer cue tips. We don't understand Generation Y's preacher-esque zeal for self-improvement and accomplishment and find their efforts come across, as well, too much preaching.

The rivalry is probably most intense among the older Y's and younger X's due to the freshman/sophomore dynamic. Sophomores feel their extra year warrants respect from freshman and that they should be treated differently by elders. However, sophomores are often really just older freshman who are still trying to figure out the same issues.

As an older Generation Xer, my contemplation through this post has made me realize that I am mainly just annoyed that Y's are littering on the internet and are terrible writers. Their web businesses that fill the internet like spores are typically affiliate marketing arrangements or "lifestyle design" which seems to be a way to justify writing about your navel gazing as a business. The true lack of any business model once traffic was achieved disillusioned me the about Generation Y's contributions to the internet.

Furthermore, their affiliate marketing or lifestyle design business models need to be driven by compelling content since they are mainly just writing about themselves. However, they kill their content with overusing awsome, awesomeness, sweet awesome goodness, or other words that don't really lend any descriptive value. I am waiting for awsomeful to catch on next. They declare ninja or rock star status for various abilities like networking or nose hair trimming. Unless it involves a throwing star or actual musical instruments, ninja or rock star are just another way of saying awesomeful. The Generation Y twitter driven writing style creates short blog entries with lots of ideas but no substance behind them. Titles of articles declare, "Everything that you know is wrong!" when the title should be: "I would like to suggest a slight shift in how we think about a new social media tool."

My Generation X co-workers and I talk about the challenges and how it's different working with Generation Y. One of my coworkers is managing 2 Y's and had the difficult experience of having to fire one of them. As we get older, the rivalry will fade and our different philosophies will complement work styles rather than be divisive. Until then, I will be more welcoming of Generation Y when they learn how to write awesomfuller and stops littering the internet with Amway schemes.

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