Millennial Makeover

No. It’s not a new reality TV show, although it has potential, a nice ring to it, I must admit. It is the title of a new book. A week or so ago I nabbed it from the library. Millennial Makeover has a subtitle that claims it is about “MySpace, YouTube & the Future of American Politics.” How could I resist.

I found the premise of this book to be both encouraging and vexing. Encouraging because it seemed to suggest a major shift in politics in this country and God knows we need that. And vexing because, well, it seemed to be crediting such a change to the Millennial generation. It touched a GenX nerve. It’s happening already, I thought. The Millennials are coming! The Millennials are coming! And they’re going to get all the fucking credit and Generation X is going to get pushed to the back of the bus, if not off of it entirely. And yet I checked it out anyway, but didn’t pick it up until tonight for some reason.

I knew that there was some discussion of Generation X in this book because I’d checked the index but I couldn’t help suspecting that references would be merely points of comparison, casting Generation X as the lesser cohort to the Millennial generation. Based on some comments in the Introduction I was, at least in part, correct.

The authors assert that this book is “an attempt to illuminate Millennial values and behaviors, as well as the technologies that help to create and enable them, for the Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers who are currently running America.” But I would argue that Gen-Xers are in fact not running much of American right now. Seriously, I’d like to see a list of names on this one. I’m not saying there aren’t any, but my guess is that mostly it is still fucking Boomers.

Also, the authors failure to credit the Gen-Xers who actually created much of the “technologies that help to create and enable them [Millenials]” is irksome. It is my understanding that MySpace, YouTube and Google, among others, were created by Gen-Xers. Am I wrong on this point?

But I get it, I get it. The Millennial generation is not only almost twice the size of Generation X, but, according to the book, this new generation, born between approximately 1982 and 2003 (which, btw, would include my 7-year-old daughter, who was born in 2001) is bigger than any previous generation. So, you know, they must figure they have to pander to them. The authors are admitted Democrats and it seems pretty clear already that they want this new generation brought mostly into the fold of their favored party.

I also take pretty strong exception to the labeling of Generation X as “generally conservative,” which without more specific explanation seems to cast Gen-Xers as largely Republican, which I doubt is the case. We tend to be non-joiners and probably, even if we tend to prefer one party over the other, tend to think of ourselves as mostly Independents, and I’m not talking the Joe Lieberman kind of Independent. So…you know…. we got that going for us.

It would be more accurate to called Generation X largely pragmatic.

Also it bugs me that they identify Barrack Obama as “a late Baby Boomer born on the cusp of Generation X,” but I get that too, since part of Obama’s pitch is that he is transcendent, of not only race but of generational delineation as well, and I suppose in a way he is, but I’m still claiming him as a fellow GenXer, because as Jeff Gordinier points out in his book X Saves the World, Obama, in his book, Dreams from my Father, describes his journey from cynicism to idealism, and that makes him a GenXer.

Still I agree with the authors that what set Obama apart from the other candidates was how he “distanced himself from the rest of the candidates in a crucial way that demonstrated his awareness of generational differences and his sensitivity to the concerns and political style of the Millennial Generation,” even if it irritates me that they seem not to care whether Obama is appealing to Generation X, even though he certainly is. He is to this GenXer in any case. It was that very distinction of Obama’s, that he was beyond all these generational beefs hatched no the campuses of a few elite universities and colleges decades ago that really brought me around to him.

Despite my irritation, I read on, and a good thing too because, based on the first chapter anyway, there seems to be some interesting valuable stuff in this book. And while I do appreciate the more or less apt comparison of the Generation X to the Israelites, who were forced to wander the desert for 40 years “–a generation whose members often felt as if they had to endure a nomadic existence without guidance or support from their parents or from society as a whole,” I would point out that unlike the Israelites, whom the Lord was punishing for their sins, Generation X’s only “sin” was being born at a less than advantageous time and for some reason being marked as the whipping post for the previous generation.

We’ll see how the rest of the book pans out. I got plenty of other shit to read.

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3 responses to “Millennial Makeover

  1. Pingback: GenXer and Millennials are running for office « junkdrawer67

  2. Just finished reading this book and found it pretty interesting, although I sympathize with many of your observations. As for the political attitudes of GenX, sadly the number bear out that we are a generally conservative lot. Republican party ID was much higher among young people when “young people” was us. Many of my pals in high school and college were seduced by the Reagan Revolution. Even those on the left tend to be more libertarian and unorthodox (e.g., not doctrinaire like Boomers or institutional like the pre-Boomer lefties of the 30s and 40s). I just read a blog post about how Obama missed out on some potential GenX votes in closed primaries because it’s still “cool” and “indie” to not identify with a party, even when you agree with its policies.

    The rest of the book is alternatively a little bit scary and a great deal encouraging – if you are a progressive, that is. If Obama wins, they will look prety prophetic.

  3. Thanks for response, robsalk. I’m still working my way through Millennial Makeover, but not sure I’ll make it through the entire thing, a bad habit of mine — leaveing books half-read. It tends to happen a lot with nonfiction.

    You may be correct about GenX being generally conservative. I admit that fiscally I’m quite conservative, although not necessarily pro-business or pro-corporate or whatever. My short stint in the corporate world showed me that corporations are often inefficient slugs that waste time, money and resources, not to mention reguarly treat employees poorly. And my inquieries into others’ corporate work experiences seem to bare this out for the most part. In the end, it is simply a fact of life that people learn to deal with.

    I haven’t taken a poll or anything but I would venture to guess that a good number of my high school classmates are likely conservative and Republican. I think more of my college friends tend to be lean more Democratic and perhaps liberal or progressive. Although like me I’m pretty sure they tend to NOT identify with any given party. I’ve never registered with a party or voted in a primary. And though I have mostly coted Democratic in my life, especially for President, the on exception being my first Pres. Election when I voted for Papa Bush, a decision I don’t wholly regret

    As for Obama missing out on GenX votes, I’ve wondered about that. I mean, I’ve been pretty impressed with him, and it would take something major for me to throw him over at this point. But I wasn’t on board from the beginning. He seemed too inexperienced and I figured he was just getting his name out there for “next time” but then he really took off. What finally won me over was when he started talking about how he wasn’t part of those old arguments that were hatched on campus decades ago. And I know, it’s just pretty political rhetoric, and I know too that as a GenXer my keen bs detector should automatically discount such things, but it didn’t. Still, I’m aware that other GenXers don’t roll the way I do.

    Ultimately, I considered Obama to be the first GenX Pres. candidate, despite the many, many arguemts that insist otherwise, that claim him as a late Boomer or as a member of Generation Jones. I take my que from Jeff Gordinier’s book, X Saves the World, in which he classifies Obama as GenX, because of his, Obama’s, chronicling, in his first book, of his journery from cycicsm to idealism. Something like that anyway.

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