Monday, June 22, 2009

Random Observations: Gen Xers, Suburban Life, and Holden Caulfield

Technically, I’m still considered a ‘thirty-something,’ despite having only 1.5 years left to make that claim.

If someday you hear someone desperately praying out loud that they want the next 1.5 years to go by really slow, let there be no doubt—that would be me.

I may be sobbing at the time. So bring tissues, just in case.

Does anyone remember that show, Thirtysomething?

Yeah, I don’t remember much about it either. If you do remember it, I think there’s a good chance you’re a Baby Boomer.

I do remember being twenty-something at the time that show aired, and also remember thinking that I didn’t really like the show. I tried to watch it once or twice, but just couldn’t relate to it.

The title of the show probably should have tipped me off.

Looking back on it now, the reasons I couldn’t relate makes total sense. The show was apparently inspired by the movie, ‘The Big Chill’ and was about a group of Baby Boomers living as, you guessed it, thirty-something adults in the 1980’s.

I was born in ’71, which is considered one of the Generation X birth years.

So there you go. That should explain why I didn't get it.

Part of me tends to believe that people are people, regardless of what generation they’re labeled as, which I think is true, at least to some degree.

Over the years, however, I’ve noticed clear differences in the attitudes, values, and overall mindsets of people from different generations.

I think the times you live in can have a real impact on those things.

I also think other things like personality traits and one’s general disposition are probably, at least in part, more genetically inherited.

I'm of the opinion that both nature and nurture play a part in who we become.

But hey, I’m no expert on the subject.

I’m just touching on my own observations and opinions based on my life experiences; opinions which you may find accurate or inaccurate, depending on who you are.

I don't think there’s really a 'correct' answer anyway, since there are exceptions to just about everything in life.

In my experience, there is no black-and-white answer or neat little categories that everyone fits into—which is a GREAT thing if you ask me.

Diversity is the spice of life!

It’s part of what makes things interesting.

People's differences should be welcomed and celebrated, I think.

How boring would life get if everyone you knew was exactly like you?

I say, miserably boring, to be exact.

You want to know the first thing I associate with miserably boring?

Two words...

The suburbs.

Unfortunately, the words ‘different’ or ‘unique’ are the opposite of how I would describe the suburbs. To me, it’s more accurate to say that everything is mostly the same in the suburbs—where being different or not fitting in is usually frowned upon.

This being one of the many reasons why I find suburban life so incredibly boring.

In all fairness, I do know there’s an up-side to living in the suburbs.

In fact, I spent my high school years living in one of those quiet, cookie-cutter suburbs in South Florida.

Feelings of comfort and predictability, which bring a sense of perceived stability and safety, come to mind—and those things are especially alluring if you have a family, or are starting a family.

It’s just that, like everything else, there’s a price for that comfort and stability; there’s a sacrifice I think you make for that perceived perfect life.

I saw the movie, Revolutionary Road a few months ago, which was a great example of this sacrifice. In fact, this quote from one of the movie reviews sums it up perfectly, in my opinion:

"The suburbs are comfortable, maybe even beautiful, but their serenity is rooted in a friendly American conformity, so that the people who live there have to repress their true selves, which will emerge when they drink too much and have affairs, or rage at each other for their dishonesty, which was all caused in the first place by...the suburbs."

Conformity. Ew.

Anyway, I’ve digressed yet again. Wow, am I good at that or what.

It's kind of what I do, though.

So, back to the difference in generations subject.

The original reason I started writing this post had to do with a NY Times article I read today, which really fascinated me.

It’s titled, “Get a Life, Holden Caulfield,” and it touches on how today’s generation of kids seem to feel differently about Holden Caulfield, the main character from the book The Catcher in the Rye, than my generation did.

What’s especially interesting to me, is that after recently trying to read the book again as a thirty-something ‘adult’ (I use that term loosely), I now tend to feel the same way about Holden as many kids feel about him today.

I couldn't get past the first chapter for some reason.

I asked myself, “What the hell does that mean? How is that possible?”

I LOVED that book!

How is it that I can relate to high school kids these days? Is it that I haven’t really matured at all since high school?!

I’d like to think that I've matured nicely. Then again, there's a part of me that I think may never grow up, which is actually a comforting thought.

I want to keep that spark—that youthful sprit—alive as long as I can.

It’s a scary thought to imagine growing into some crotchety old man who’s afraid of change. I just can’t imagine.

Much like John Mayer sings in the song Stop This Train, I am generally: “So scared of getting older, I’m only good at being young.”

In any case, after thinking about the Holden Caulfield thing for a few moments, I realized that kids these days have access to much more information than I did at their age.

I think that kids having more information and knowledge easily available to them at a younger age is probably helping the younger generation understand the world around them much faster and much sooner than my generation did.

At least that's what I'd like to think.

It's either that, or parents are just doing a much better job raising their kids these days.

I'm skeptical about the latter, but maybe it's a little of both, who knows.

Of course, having information available doesn’t guarantee people will take advantage of it, but at least it’s there. These days, you can get information to learn about anything in a matter of seconds.

Oh, how I wish Google was available to me in high school!

But of course, information and knowledge can’t bring you wisdom and discernment—that’s something, I think, only time and maturity can bring.

After reading this, however, it's clear that knowing how to act in public, is another subject altogether. One that probably includes people of all generations.

In unrelated news—man, am I in the wrong business. Even in today’s financial environment, it’s amazing how these guys are still swimming in money!


  1. Just an FYI...I think I'm enjoying my 40's more than my 30's. And I enjoyed my 30's more than my 20's.

    With that being said, fear not to enter life past 1.5 years from now. It's good.

    But it DOES scare me a bit to enter into the next decade of life for myself. I mean, no matter what age you are, doesn't the number 50 jsut SOUND old? I am SOOOO in denial....

    Thanks for your ramble. Good reads.

  2. Thanks for the consolation! I also have enjoyed my 30s more than 20s...I think it's a matter of being ready to accept being in a new 'age bracket.' But I guess my fellow Gen Xers will be coming with there's always that =o)

  3. guess who is going to NYC in Sept? Yep, heading to your favorite spot :) How ya been? You like the new DMB album, I know you have to like the song You and Me, you have to....

  4. Hi there! Just saw this note...sounds pretty awesome. I'm going in Sept too! Sept 10-13 to be exact. I do like the new DMB album quite a bit. And yes, love that song! I'm sure you knew the moment you heard it...LOL