Family Practice: Generation XedWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The anthem of my youth was no doubt “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. As much as my generation wanted to believe we were a tribe of distinct, nonconformist individualists, most of us pretty much shared the same music, clothes and other preferences. In short, we were just like any other generation of young people … only with a different theme.
Our theme could best be summed up as apathy, I guess. We were supposedly slackers who didn’t care about how we looked or what others thought of us. We wore big, oversized clothing and clung to big, oversized ideals that allowed us to pretentiously sit back and just do nothing.
“It’s fun to lose and to pretend/She’s overboard and self-assured/Oh, no, I know a dirty word”
“I feel stupid and contagious/Here we are now, entertain us”
We were genuinely impressed with our own lack of enthusiasm and were sure our moment in the shade would last forever.
“I’m worse at what I do best/And for this gift I feel blessed/Our little group has always been and always will until the end”
Although we were completely convinced of the contrary, in a way we didn’t really make much sense at all.
“A mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido/Yeah”
I don’t think about my younger years or even “my generation” very often. Aside from bumping into a Pearl Jam song now and then or wondering why people are wearing such skinny jeans, I left most of my alternative, grungy, flannelly, angsty self behind starting around 1994 or so. I’m too busy happily embracing the married, three-kid, minivan-driving suburban life I was supposed to rebel against to realize how much I should be hating myself right about now.
It all came flooding back to me recently, however. I ran across yet another singing, dancing flash mob parading across the Internet and it suddenly hit me: I love this stuff (my Generation X upbringing compels me to use a different word but I will refrain). For all the years of feeling oppressed by gleeful, glitzy, cheesy conformity, I actually now find it very, shall we say, sweet. (That’s not sweet like pure and wholesome; that’s sweet like “sa-weet!”) In fact, it’s oddly liberating.
I could never have even imagined a large group of my peers circa 1992 jubilantly prancing its way through a mall food court, but I cannot begin to express how happy I am that such a thing is almost commonplace nowadays. Mainstream indifference seems to be a thing of the early ’90s past and a general loathing for life itself looks to have died with Kurt Cobain. Teen spirit, team spirit and any other type of spirit just don’t have that buzzkill stigma attached that they once did “back in my day.”
I realize there are some of us still clinging to our apathetic past so firmly that we won’t let it go until someone pries it from our cold, dead hearts. I also realize there will forever be at least small sects of teens and other society members hellbent on convincing the rest of us that they don’t care in the least. By the way, most of them obviously do.
I am overjoyed, however, that my children may be given the cultural opportunity in their teen years to love life in some capacity instead of being peer pressured into thinking of it so dispassionately. Of course, judging from all of the leggings and neon-colored everything at the mall, apathy should be scheduled for its comeback right about the time my children enter adolescence.
“Oh, well, whatever, nevermind”
The good news is that even the most dispassionate among us can eventually exult in things like dancing, prancing, joyous flash mobs if we allow ourselves an open mind and an open heart. Perhaps going through a period of black and white gives us that extra appreciation for life in the full-color, HD version.
“And I forget just why I taste/Oh, yeah, I guess it makes me smile”
Shannon and her husband, Michael, are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at email@example.com.