Who the hell is Generation O?

Well, according to an article in the New York Times this past Sunday:

GENERATION O is that college kid at the White House gate early Wednesday morning, lifting his shirt to reveal “Obama” painted in red on his chest.

Or that stylized Obama T-shirt that makes irony look old, the “Obama Girl” on YouTube, or the thousands of notes on Barack Obama’s Facebook page: “U are the best!!!” “yeah, buddy.”

And, of course, Generation O is the president-elect himself.

Read full article here.

One wonders if Generation 0 is going to be the new nomenclature for what is commonly knowns as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y, those between the ages of 19-29. Well, whatever you call them it is true that they came up big for Obama on election night.

Mr. Obama’s victory was greatly helped by his young allies. More 18- to 29-year-olds went to the polls this year than in any election since 1972 — between 21.6 million and 23.9 million, up from about 19.4 million in 2004, according to preliminary estimates from the Center for Information and Research of Civic Learning and Engagement. And 66 percent voted for Mr. Obama, according to exit polls by Edison/Mitofsky.

They showed the fuck up! Which is more than can said for Generation X over the years. And for that I know I am grateful. And they should be proud. For making Barack Obama the first Generation X President in addition to the first black President. And I know, I know, there are those out there that will refuse to accept that Obama is a GenXer, but he is. He is not a Boomer; he’s too young, even if he was born within your predefined year parameters. And he is not Generation Jones, because, well, the designation of Generation Jones is lame. Ask 10 random people on the street what Generation Jones is, and I’d be surprised if even on can tell you. And even the one that maybe can won’t get it. So it’s a non-entity. Give it up.

In any case, in the grand scheme of things that Obama is Generation X — and he is — is fairly minor. If not for the Times article, I doubt I would have blogged about it at all. But it is true. And as Obama transitions into the White House and begins to govern the evidence that he is Generation X will only grow.

But back to the Millennials that helped get him there. They sure impress the hell out of me. I went into the local Obama office here in B’ham. It was mostly Millennials, young women still wearing braces and young guys still fighting acne. They tried to get me pitch in, to help out, to fight along side them. But in typical GenX fashion I simply would not join. I tried to do my thing on the fringes, with this pathetic little blog, by sending emails to people I know, by posting messages on Facebook and MySpace, by talking to family and friends and co-workers where and when I could. I was cool with that. But joining a massive organization. Sorry, ain’t going to happen. So thank God for the Millennials or Gen Y or Gen O or whatever brand they end up being saddled with. Who knows? Does it matter?

Anyhoo…

Last week I was listening to Chris Mathews bloviate on Hardball, saying how Obama was this generations Jack Kennedy. I thought, yeah, that’s kind of true. And I thought that was cool, for Millennials, while at the same time feeling a little bitter sweet because GenX got Bill Clinton, a gifted politician to be sure and an amazing mind for all sorts of things but in some ways a serious disappointment. You know of what I speak. He disappointed even more during the Primary, which was cool. It just helped solidify my support for Obama. And anyway, being disappointed is part of life, right.

But like some others, I wonder how Millennials are likely to react to disappointment when it comes. And it will come. Obama is not flawless, he does not walk on water. Mistakes will be made. There will be failures. He knows that. He’s too smart not to. But do these young supporters know that? Do they really?

…such a sweeping success could also breed trouble. “The risk is they vote for the first time, and then there’s this incredible long-shot win — ‘Gee this is easy,’ ” said Kurt Andersen, a founder of Spy and former editor of New York Magazine. There is also “a risk of this generation conflating our iPhones with the substantive policy progress that the iPhones and laptops enable.”

Inevitably, he said, “growing up is all about disappointment and things not going well — so that is a natural next step.”

The pain of dashed hopes, if it comes, could be eased by this generation’s news media diet, which has made them fantastically informed and skeptical. Or it could be worsened by the psychology of how they were raised and came of age.

Ronald Alsop, author of “The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation is Shaking Up the Workplace,” said that because today’s young people have been trained to trust teams and systems — they love checklists — they often struggle when things do not go according to plan.

And with the direction the economy is headed, I’m going to go ahead and guess that it is likely that many a Millennial is going to find his/her best laid plans thwarted. GenXer know how that feels. We know it sucks. But we also know it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Good things can and do happen, despite shitty circumstance beyond your control. Sometimes even great things. Thing like electing the first POTUS!

Advertisements

11 responses to “Who the hell is Generation O?

  1. laughing my butt off. that was funny about Generation Jones. IT IS SO LAME!!!!!! About as lame as the peeps coming out of Jones, Oklahoma who voted for McCain. Gawwwwwwwwww. So, for a minute, when I read “Generation O,” I was like:

    OH. NO. YOU DON’T. U R NOT TAKING THIS MOMENT FROM GENERATION X.

    Dammit.

  2. Interesting post and blog. Relevantly, many prominent experts and publications have pointed out that Obama is part of Generation Jones, born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and GenXers.
    This link takes you to a page you may find interesting: it has, among other things, excerpts from publications like Newsweek and the New York Times, and videos with over 25 top pundits, all talking specifically about Obama’s identity as a GenJoneser:
    http://www.generationjones.com/2008election.html

  3. Thanks for the response, Eye, but I do NOT accept the designation of Generation Jones not matter who reports on it. It is lame, and just plain silly. Obama is a GenXer. I realize that plenty of people cling to the notion that being part of a particular generation basically begins and ends with when they were born, but that simply does not hold for me, especially in terms of Generation X. It has as much if not more to do with how one views the world. And that for me makes Obama Generatoin X.

  4. Yeah, Jen. I have a similiar reaction every tme someone brings up Generation Jones — You are not going to steal this moment from Generation X. We’ve been jerked around and jerked around and jerked around. And it ends right now, dammit!

    Sometimes I’m convinced that it is clandestine plot by Boomers to snatch any kind of victory from GenXs’ grasp. Well, they ain’t gonna get it. They had their run. It’s over. It’s our guys’ turn.

    The thing is you almost never heard of this Generation Jones malarky until Obama started running. Actually, you don’t really hear that much about it now. It’s a niche market for generation studies types trying to further subdivide and label people because their neurotic little minds can’t help it. Fine. That is their perogative (sp). But I don’t have to buy into. I do not buy into it.

    Barack Obama, in addition to be the first African American President of the United States, an admittedly much more impressive accomplishment by any measure, is also Generation X.

  5. if you believe in cyclical generation stuff, then gen-o/gen-y is supposed to be the “great” generation. the cycle goes something like builders (great), sustainers (silent), boomers (duh), busters (gen-x).

    having taught gen-o/gen-y kids, i am of the opinion that they’re the real deal.

  6. 1. I’ve never heard of Generation Jones, so I’ve learned my “something new every day” for today. Sweet – I’m going back to bed.

    2. Apparently, your “pathetic little blog” isn’t two out of those three words. What is it to raise awareness if not one person at a time?

    3. Generation “O” will experience Obama through their own lens of growth and development. As they stumble through their late teens and early twenties, they will realize that adults are not perfect or even really that smart. Hopefully they will learn to appreciate the finer points of irony and learn that the world is not a series of polarized arguments in which one has to be right and the other has to be wrong. Perhaps our new leader will illuminate the idea that there are infinite options, and participate in the development of a new generation of more sophisticated thinking.

  7. How sad and revealing your posts are when you trash on Generation Jones. You obviously are completely clueless when it comes to the actual social science of generations, putting down people who actually study the data and history and sociology in a serious way to determine our country’s generations.

    There is no Generation Jones, you exclaim, because we like Obama a real lot so we want to claim him as a part of our generation–Generation X. Why is he an Xer, rather than a Joneser? Well, we don’t have any actual reasons to back up this claim, so we’ll just use ridiculous ones:
    There is no GenJones because it’s not as well known as GenX
    There is no GenJones because we Xers have been waiting for a long time for our moment in the sun
    There is no GenJones because no one is going to steal this moment from us Xers

    Oh, but Obama doesn’t even fit into what is by far the most widely used definition of Xers (ie. starting with 1965 birth year)? OK, then we’ll use Strauss&Howe’s far less popular start point of 1961. No, wait a moment, I’ve got it…let’s pretend that generations aren’t defined by birth years at all, just by a state of mind! That way we can ignore the fact that Obama really doesn’t fit Generation X, we can ignore the facts! Yeah, that’s the ticket! Who cares that there is no generation expert on the planet who would agree that generations are based on anything other than birth years?! This isn’t about facts, this is about our desire to feel better about ourselves by claiming that this rock star of a President is one of ours, yes ours! No one is taking this moment from us!

    Well, sonnypie67 and jenx67, I understand your pathetic desire to “claim” Obama, but unfortunately for you, back here in reality…you know, where the sky is blue and grass is green…generations are based on facts, on statistics, on sophisticated analysis of many relevant variables. You can ignore the many experts, who are far more knowledgable than you, who emphatically insist that Obama is a Joneser, and you can pretend that GenJones only started to get attention with the Obama candidacy, even though it had already gotten tons of attention and acceptance from many credible sources prior to that. But truth is truth and experts will continue to speak the truth. No matter how much you whine about it.

    And one other thing…you say you’ve been jerked around and jerked around and no one is going to steal this moment from you…they’ve had their turn, now it’s out turn, you implore. Well, the truth is that Generation X has gotten huge attention over the last 17 years; it’s Generation Jones which has been lost in the shadow of the Boomers our whole lives, we’ve been waiting for our turn a lot longer than Xers.

    But be clear here on this last point: I just throw that out as a side point of context re. your posts. I certainly wouldn’t include this point about Jonesers waiting for our turn as being even the tiniest basis for determing actual generational boundaries. How sad that it is exactly this point of Xers waiting for their turn that you use as the entirety of your claim re. these generational boundaries.

    So are you honest enough to allow your readers to see this perspective or are you just too threatened by the truth to post this comment?

  8. Wow that was so scathin that for a second there I thought I might cry. Turned out to just be gas, thought, so I hiked a cheek and let her rip and now I feel ever so much better. And that’s pretty much what I think of your argument, which stinks, and is lame, as apparently are you.

    Of course, you are most certainly welcome to wallow in your rigid ignorance by clinging to the year 1965 as the cut off for Generation X but the truth is that there is no consensus on the cut off year. And, as you might suspect, 1961 is often mention as the cut off year. Yeah. I know. Astonishing. Is the light blinding or what? You’ll get used to it. Or you won’t. Either way I don’t give a rat’s backside.

    Anyhoo.. the point is because there is no consensus on when the cut off year is, one must look at a broader definition of what make someone a GenXer. There are many. And if I had the time or the inclination to disabuse you of your ignorance, I would detail them here, but the truth is I just don’t give a shit.

    Don’t misunderstand. I get it. There’s a whole bunch of ya out there that don’t want to be associated with the Boomers. Who could blame you? Surely, not I. But you’re stuck. You’re a Boomer or you’re an Xer. Call yourself GenJones or GenJerkoff or whatever if you want. It matters not. No one cares.

    You’re not getting attention because of Obama. Because you’re not getting attention at all. You claim is little more than a rhetorical jerk off into the wind. Enjoy!

    I may be pathetic as you say, but I am a GenXer and when you ask people what that is they have at least heard of it, because it exists. So I say again, ask 10 people at random about Gen Jones and you’ll be lucky to get one person to know what the hell you’re talking about. How sad for you!

    You go bye bye now.

    Me go bask in the glory of the first Generation X POTUS! Can I get an Amen fellow Xers!

    And for this jerk off with the pretentious self-important moniker of EyeOnTrends that only proves what an asshole Boomer he/she is can I get a big PISS OFF!

    Shank you!

  9. Wow that was so scathin that for a second there I thought I might cry. Turned out to just be gas, thought, so I hiked a cheek and let her rip and now I feel ever so much better. And that’s pretty much what I think of your argument, which stinks, and is lame, as apparently are you.

    Of course, you are most certainly welcome to wallow in your rigid ignorance by clinging to the year 1965 as the cut off for Generation X but the truth is that there is no consensus on the cut off year. And, as you might suspect, 1961 is often mention as the cut off year. Yeah. I know. Astonishing. Is the light blinding or what? You’ll get used to it. Or you won’t. Either way I don’t give a rat’s backside.

    Anyhoo.. the point is because there is no consensus on when the cut off year is, one must look at a broader definition of what make someone a GenXer. There are many. And if I had the time or the inclination to disabuse you of your ignorance, I would detail them here, but the truth is I just don’t give a shit.

    Don’t misunderstand. I get it. There’s a whole bunch of ya out there that don’t want to be associated with the Boomers. Who could blame you? Surely, not I. But you’re stuck. You’re a Boomer or you’re an Xer. Call yourself GenJones or GenJerkoff or whatever if you want. It matters not. No one cares.

    You’re not getting attention because of Obama. Because you’re not getting attention at all. You claim is little more than a rhetorical jerk off into the wind. Enjoy!

    I may be pathetic as you say, but I am a GenXer and when you ask people what that is they have at least heard of it, because it exists. So I say again, ask 10 people at random about Gen Jones and you’ll be lucky to get one person to know what the hell you’re talking about. How sad for you!

    You go bye bye now.

    Me go bask in the glory of the first Generation X POTUS! Can I get an Amen fellow Xers!

    And for this jerk off with the pretentious self-important moniker of EyeOnTrends that only proves what an asshole Boomer he/she is can I get a big PISS OFF!

    Shank you!

  10. I tend to agree with your Old Man Neil. I’m betting that Gen Y/Millennials is going to the next great generation. That doesn’t really bother me. Mostly because they will be far more significant than Boomers. And that just makes me smile.

    There is an interesting book that discusses this topic: Millennial Makerover

    Check it out if you can:

    http://www.amazon.com/Millennial-Makeover-MySpace-American-Politics/dp/0813543010/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226542414&sr=8-1

  11. I don’t know where this Generation Jones™ business is coming from, but just because you don’t like being a Baby Boomer doesn’t mean you’re not one — or a member of Generation X for that matter. You don’t get to choose your generation any more than you can choose your birthyear, no matter how you want to brand it.

    (1954 is even less popular than Strauss & Howe’s supposedly “far less popular” date of 1961 for the start of the next generation and the end of the Baby Boom, by the way.)

    The Boomers were more than just the Summer of Love and Vietnam, as even I have to remind myself sometimes and as the Gen Jones proponents disavow. They’re the ones whose collective experiences were equally shaped (as teenagers and young adults) by Watergate, the 1970s Gas Crisis, and the Iran Hostages.

    There are many Gen X’ers that are not cynical, conservative Nirvana fans, too — one of them just got elected to the White House. That does not mean there’s a Generation X½ (or a Generation T, U, V, or W).

    Just because you listened to the Sex Pistols rather than the Stones in your parents’ basement doesn’t change your generation, any more than if you listened to Duran Duran vs. Pearl Jam.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s