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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Generation X-ed?
Friday, March 14, 2008

We were always labeled as slackers, malcontents, and generally not as high-quality as previous generations. With that in mind perhaps it’s not so strange that when I look at the world it seems as though my generation has been passed over in every conceivable way. Being born in 1978 I just catch being thrown into the tail end of Generation X (some may say I’m in Generation Y, but either way it’s close enough to be debatable) and I can’t help but notice I, along with the rest of my peers, are just sort of here, still searching for a place in the world.

Every day I see plenty of older people in positions that I would have expected to see dominated by Gen X-ers by now. What happened? Well, depending on who you ask my generation is either the most unemployable, horrible dreck of the earth, or a tremendous well of untapped potential. I know many of us are working towards goals, but every time it’s the same story, the old guard doesn’t want to leave, and I can’t blame them for that. If I had those gigs I wouldn’t want to leave either.

There’s also the flipside to the old guard, as some places are deciding to go much younger and hire the next generation. I can’t say the next generation doesn’t have its merits. While mine grew up using the Dewey Decimal System for most of our scholastic careers folks only five years younger than I am have been using the internet since they were freshman in high school (and probably don't understand the Conan The Librarian joke from UHF at all). My college dorm didn’t even really use email until the second semester of my freshman year. If you tell your average recent college grad that they’ll look at you funny because they’ve been using it since they were 12. It’s why guys like Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, are leading his generation to the forefront, passing mine by with a quickness Racer X would be in awe of.

The old guard and next generation issues aren’t just happening in the business world, though, they’re also happening in music. Think about many of your favorite artists (the ones that are on major labels and releasing music). What’s their median age? It’s not close to yours, is it? Most of us still count older artists pushing 40 (some of whom are actually over 40, but lying about their age), or even 50 as our personal faves. The younger generation has their throngs of teenage rappers and singers to keep them occupied, but what about the men and women in their late 20’s and early 30’s? Other than Kanye West who in that age range is really making things happen? What the heck happened to our generation? Are we less artistic, less marketable, or just plain old less interesting?

As someone who works his butt off day in and day out, putting in significantly more hours than someone working your average nine to five, and knowing plenty of others my age doing the same, the idea that we are a generation of slackers seems completely unfounded. We work hard, we’re smart, we have the ability to know the old ways but also utilize new technologies. We should be the perfect generation of people to be running the show right now. So where are we? With a few exceptions, most of my friends are either working multiple jobs, making bold attempts at entrepreneurship, or are stuck in gigs they don’t really enjoy simply to pay the bills.

Perhaps this is all just personal paranoia due to the field I’ve chosen to work in. In journalism I’m seeing more and more of my peers stuck in neutral as freelancers as we attempt to work our way into editorial positions. I have many friends who, like me, have been doing this for nearly a decade, pushing to get a second foot in the door and an eventual “running the show” full time gig. It can be frustrating at times, riding a roller coaster rather than a finely tuned automobile of a career.

So is it just me and the people I’m around most, or are others having these same issues? Help me out here. Is this really generational, or is it simply occupational?
posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:57 AM  
  • At 12:47 PM, Blogger JG said…

    I sometimes get the same feeling, but I don't think it's that bad in reality. Average executive ages have actually declined over the last several years, and there are a lot of X-ers with 2007 top 20 albums: Jay-Z, Gwen Stefani, Kanye, Daughtry, Nickelback, Fergie, Linkin Park, Rascal Flatts, Norah Jones ... and depending on who you believe, maybe even Beyonce.

  • At 1:59 PM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    I hear ya on most of those artists, but Jay's in his 40's!

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