12 November 2009

Irrelevant: Generation X, and Me

Today, I realized that I am irrelevant.

As I sat in the basement this morning, I reflected upon my life. Since I was born in 1965, I am a member of Generation X. A few years ago, there was a term that was largely associated with Generation X members, but I always felt did not apply to me --- called the "slacker". I worked two and three jobs, six and seven days a week, in order to become relevant. But, I suppose because I am a member of Generation X, things have become more denigrating to those of us who are labeled Gen-X. Perhaps it's that label of "slacker" which defined some in our generation, and cast a pall over our very existence within Generation X. Because we're now "middle aged", and no longer in our youth, we have become special to Gen-Y and the Baby Boom generations, as well as...well, not sure that we've given a true name to the younger than Gen-Y kids yet, but I may as well not look it up on the internet because I'm already irrelevant.

Ya see --- outside of those they identified more than a decade ago as slackers, Generation X doesn't even get noticed on the blip of the RADAR GUN that is our national media. CBS' Katie Couric is a Baby Boomer. NBC's Brian Williams is a Baby Boomer, and so are their respective backup anchors, Russ Mitchell and Lester Holt. Looking over at the other news desks --- well, okay, after you get away from retiring boomer Charles Gibson, there are a few anchors who may have a shot at the ABC News desk who are in Generation X...but, frankly, I doubt that the Baby Boomers in charge at ABC will allow a non-boomer to fill that chair as anything more than a co-anchor.

No, you see my point is not only am I, personally, feeling irrelevant. But it seems a lot of us in Generation X are being deemed irrelevant in this economic crisis. Some would say we're too small a generation to have as great an impact on the financial world as "boomers" --- even though we're in the middle of our best spending years. However, we Gen-Xers are also in the middle of being given pink slips or told our job skills don't match the open job positions which are largely being offered up to or snapped up by those who are Gen-Y --- not because we're unqualified for the positions, but because we don't match the financial requirements.

Huh? We're in this economy, making more money on average than the younger generation and we don't qualify? How can that be? Well --- it's BECAUSE we don't make or take less money than those who are younger that we don't match the financial requirements. That, by the way, is the lie that the Human Resources departments are counting on to get them through whatever minor hiring stage they set. Companies are suggesting the HR people not hire someone over 30 these days because of financial needs of the company are paramount. In reality they only want to pay for those who have just exited their formative educational years (high school, trade schools, colleges, and universities) and will gladly accept a smaller paycheck than those of us who have anywhere from five to 25 years in their career fields.

A lot of irrelevance in 2009 is based upon money and age. Much of it is based upon the age at which Generation X has going for it on the positive side --- we are young enough to work a lot of hours and experienced enough to know what we're doing, so we are in the right age range to make the wages that companies no longer wish to pay.

This is NOT limited to Generation X people. No --- a lot of boomers a few years under retirement age but above Gen-X are under the same guns. They, too, are fired upon by the institutions which they thought would allow them to retire as their parents or older cousins had done. Or maybe simply put --- fired, dismissed, trimmed due to budget constraints, laid-off indefinitely. How many other ways are there of saying "we are trying to protect our bottom line before we can protect your bottoms" --- or "assets before saving others' asses"???

It doesn't really matter, anyway, I suppose, which age category you fall into these days. The economic depression exists, while the government says otherwise (two different parties, two different administrations...neither will admit this is more than a serious recession). Unfortunately, it's leading to the downfall of the United States of America in a financial sense. Maybe we're going to be able to band together in the spirit of American brotherhood to get us through this mess. Or maybe we're going to crumble and fall prey to those who hold all the money in assets (not just bank notes --- banks are failing, insurance companies are failing, and Wall Street will fall again, too).

I just know this much --- I reflected upon my irrelevance this morning and have come to one conclusion: I don't see a way out of this for myself. I work in an industry which is befuddled by money-hungry investors, managed by people who don't understand the industry basics, and has consistently let go, fired, dismissed, etc., the base of people who understand how to keep it going and thrive...and although I have a part-time job...I could apply to literally thousands of outlets and be given no more of a chance than I have at my current employer to become full-time with benefits.

No...it seems my days of making that path to financial freedom were over long ago. Perhaps as long ago as half-a-career ago, the path was being broken up by owners who only wanted enough money to cover their middle-age and retirement years. The greed set out by people way above me in broadcasting 15 or more years ago has left me feeling tired and cold. Yet I am somewhat employed, while others I have known are working for peanuts or trying to move-in with their children or parents because they've been unemployed for a long enough period of time that it is as simple as being broke in a down economy.

Sure, I'm a victim of sorts: Of my own belief in my abilities taking me beyond what others have been willing to allow; of an industry which allowed itself to be taken over by money-grubbers who know nothing but their own crooked ways; of trusting that things would become better for all of us sooner, rather than later, because "some of the older generation will have enough sense to buy up the businesses and put us back in the driver's seat". Boy, was I banking without money...just like the banks do these days!

No...it's the end of 2009...I'm still going to work today, part-time. But I am a true Generation X member. And I am ever so irrelevant.

I just wish Andy Rooney would recommend that CBS fill his job position at "60 Minutes" with me, so my irrelevance would earn me a healthy and respectable paycheck for a few years.

1 comment:

  1. Buzz, great blog! As a fellow Gen Xer and a slacker wanna be this really hit home. I too have worked many jobs at once in my time to try and make ends meet and now work for a corporate monster who is interested only in feeding Wall St. I think the feeling of irrelevance may tie back to the angst we once felt as disaffected youth! You take Andy's job and I'll go for Katie's and maybe we'll run CBS one day!