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Crisis: Generation X
Generation X is the most misunderstood generation to date. Douglas Coupland attempts to make sense of what sense this generation has been left with. Due to high expectations placed upon Generation X, commonly know as "X-ers", by the successful "Baby Boomer" generation. Couplands\' writings validate his generation (Generation X) and invalidates the Baby Boomers. Generation X, Shampoo Planet, and Microserfs were written to support the invalidating of the Baby Boomer Generations.
Generation X, a brilliant portrayal of the group with no direction and no hope, tells a tale of three friends who are living the stereotypical Generation X lifestyle. Andy (main character), Dag, Claire are close friends who all work "McJobs" which is defined by Coupland as: "[a] low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low-benefit, no-future job in the service sector" (Generation X, pg.5). They each are misunderstood by their parents and are seen as underachievers in a society "that has it easy." It is easy for parents of the "X-ers" to believe this because all they\'ve know is rise. Rise in population, rise in American business, and rise in overall success. These days all jobs are taken. The jobs out there are low paying and demeaning to overqualified applicants. Left only to scrap by, it is not unusual for an "X-er" to feel "Boomer Envy" described as the "envy of material wealth and long-range material security accrued by older members of the baby boom generation by virtue of fortunate births" (Generation X, pg. 21). The fortunate thing is that "X-ers" have come to realize money is not the key to life and community and commitment are what one should work towards.
In keeping the same "money isn\'t everything" slogan, Coupland executes a novel modelled after young "X-ers" who work for the most powerful Baby Boomer of them all, Bill Gates. Microserfs is depicted as a novel displaying the lives of six Microsoft employees living together, dealing with each other and dealing with their meaningless jobs. The main character [email protected] describes himself and his life as follows:
I am a tester-a bug checker in Building Seven. I worked my way up the ladder
from Product Support Services (PSS) where I spent six months in phone purgatory in
1991 helping little old ladies format their Christmas mailing lists on Microsoft Works.
Like most Microsoft employees, I consider myself too well adjusted to be working
here, even though I am 26 and my universe consists of home, Microsoft, and Costco.
Todd, Susan, Bug Barbecue, Michael, and Abe are the five roommates of Daniel and share the common belief or thought that they are in useless jobs and thrive to end the insanity. This is also evident in the lives of Andy, Dag, and Claire in Generation X. All three wanted to end to what had been brought upon them by their peer generation.
It is this peer generation that has created a hard life for the "X-er" to put an end to the uselessness and unimportance that they feel. The Boomers mass produced themselves to a bitter death. Succession and progression are the only two words that matters to a Boomer. Unfortunately they did not contemplate the harmful effects of their constant production and constant waste. Human beings have done more damage to the earth in the last fifty years than had -3-
been done in the previous two thousand years. It is no wonder why people have it rough these days when a thoughtless generation that destroyed an environment the way the Boomers did. It is the X Generation that realizes this and is now partaking in plans for repairing the planet for further generations to start anew.
It is unfortunate that the Boomers did not realize what they were doing to future generations and possibly we wouldn\'t be living the way we are today. Yet the Boomers feel that "X-ers" are indifferent to their surroundings and that they need to be more aware to build a constructive future. They could not be more false in their entirety. Generation X has become very aspiring and are on their way to making the future a better place to live, for themselves, their children and their retired, doubtful parental figures. Generation X is unquestionably like their parents, except for one important forgotten factor: they have the
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Demographics, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, Generation X, Baby boomers, Generation, Douglas Coupland, Millennials, Baby boom, StraussHowe generational theory, Microserfs, Shampoo Planet, Boomer
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