It used to be everyone younger than a boomer agreed to moan about how the boomers had all the money, the jobs, the everything. This week, we’re too busy scrapping amongst ourselves about exactly who has it worse, the Millenials or Gen Xers. One writer has even wedged a new generation in there because she doesn’t like the existing options.
The brouhaha started with a piece New York magazine writer Noreen Malone - who is 27 - wrote last week about how her generation of hyper-achievers and self-confidence addicts have been hit hard by the current economy.
“The Kids Are Actually Sort of Alright” strikes a hopeful note though, maybe due to all that self-confidence.
Then, Gen X Gixmodo writer Mat Honan, who is 39, issued a smack-down on his blog aimed at those pesky kids.
“But Generation X is tired of your sense of entitlement. Generation X also graduated during a recession. It had even shittier jobs, and actually had to pay for its own music." Gen X, he goes on to say, is used to getting the short end of the stick.
In response, Slate writer Doree Shafrir wrote a light-hearted plea for a new micro-generation to be added to the human family tree. She’s dubbed it Generation Catalano after Jared Leto’s character in the 1994-95 TV show My So-Called Life.
While she doesn’t say exactly how old she is - just that Generation Catalano is currently aged 30 to 34 - she says she still identifies with a line Claire Danes's character Angela Chase delivered: "People are always saying you should be yourself, like yourself is this definite thing, like a toaster. Like you know what it is even."
Ms. Shafrir goes on to diss “the relatively bland main characters” on the more successful Millennial shows like Dawson's Creek, One Tree Hill, and The O.C.
While this may sound more like a debate about who has better TV shows, Ms. Shafrir suggests it’s about much more:
“This urge to define generations is also about a yearning for a collective memory in an increasingly atomized world, at least where my generation is concerned.
“Indeed, where the Millennials tend to define themselves in terms of the way they live now, people in my cohort find fellowship more in what happened in the past, clinging to cultural totems as though our shared experiences will somehow lead us to better figure out who we are.”
Some see all this as what the Atlantic Wire called it, The War to be the Greatest Put-upon Generation.
Writer Rebecca Greenfield is especially tough on the nouveau Generation Catalano: “...Just because one does not want to identify with this type of group-think, it doesn't necessarily separate a group from its true generation.”
The generations of post-boomers are already notoriously hard to pin down - some put Gen Xers, for instance, as being born between 1960 and 1980, others shift it forward a few years, from the mid-60s to early 80s. And those boomers born at the tail end of that generation have long felt more at home with the Gen X label than with their fellow boomers.
So, just how different are Millenials, Gen Xers and Generation Catalano, anyway?