Malady of GenX

“There is the heat of my groins, and the heat of my heart
When will I find Somebody who can awaken both in me?” …

… writes, a young man of 30+, part of the Gen-X. If I correctly, remember Gen-X was coined when I myself was in my 30s (I am now 45). It was coined for the next generation. This generation was recognised to be different from mine. Every generation of course is different from the previous one. But I think there was something different about Gen-X or rather there was something different about what they faced.

I consider myself and the generation before me lucky, for we had a dream to fight for, to pursue. We had the ‘evil’ classes and masses which we wanted to bring down. We had a slogan – “love” – of the sixties. We wanted to bring down things which didn’t work and rebuild. And that was what was happening, wasn’t it? Structures were being brought down. Beliefs, and “isms” were being cracked wide open. Capitalism failed. Communism failed. The berlin walls came down. Women were coming out into their own and claiming for their space under the sun. Children rights, human rights and atrocities were being recognised. Technology was taking off. Sexual revolution had happened and we were free to sleep with whoever and whenever … In fact all the taboos were actively pursued as a thumb-your-nose response. Love, sex became easy. The mohawks and tatoos said it all.

It was a time of total chaos seeking order and system. And that is where we were lucky – we KNEW what we didn’t want. We KNEW what we wanted.

The Gen-X was being born into this confusion. They were being born into the “Loss of Dream”. Everything that history believed in was getting disintegrated. The parents were being torn apart by their own conflicting values. Mothers were no longer ‘traditional’, sit-at-home mothers. Growing up in families where both parents were working (but yet were not completely comfortable in the definition of gender roles), children were being left to be groomed by a society that itself was in transition. The Gen-X seemed to feel somewhere that they had been short-changed. Feel that there is more to life, which they are not just able to define or grasp. They know there is passion and fire which their parents have experienced, and look for that mad dream which they can pursue in a manner that will tear the soul apart, but don’t identify with it.

The Gen-X was also being born in the aftermath of the sexual revolution of the 60s. And as a generation suffered from the exhaustion of the over-indulgence of the previous generation. And like any over-indulgences that brings with it its own set of problems, the Gen-X faces crises of gender and sexual identities. They fear the life-threatening disesases from pleasureable sexual activities until what is fun and wonderful itself becomes taboo ! And are torn by the conflicting messages of acceptable social good-behaviour on one side and the social revolutionary stances on the other.

I write this specifically because I have come across so many of the young people (in their 30s) who seem to have a similar underlying issues. Whereas the next generations have seem to come to terms with the new reality and are carving out their own responses.

The two lines, as written by the young person, summed up, for me, what the Gen-X represented.

(The picture is the cover page of the book by Tamara Erickson. Check it out at http://press.harvardbusiness.org/whats-next-gen-x)

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