Often we hear of the generation gap — that huge expanse between parent and child. Perhaps it is an acquaintance gap. Young people and adults do not know each other. The inability to communicate often enters the picture. Sometimes it is because neither knows what the other is interested in. They live under the same roof, but they rarely see one another, especially after the teenage years come along. The father goes off to work before the children are awake. Mother may go back to bed after seeing the husband off to work; or off to her own job. Teenagers get themselves up and off to school without seeing either parent. Then after school there is ball practice, band practice, or something else that consumes their time; maybe a job that lasts until bedtime. Parents have things that tie them up in the evenings; so the days come and go, and there is precious little time spent together. A meal together is even a rare occasion. All of these activities may be wholesome and proper, but still the family suffers because there is so little time spent together. This causes many children to make too many decisions on their own, and so often they will leave important and crucial matters out of their thoughts and plans. This generation often gets labelled by the media and the older people in society as the “youngsters who are tearing this country apart.” The fact of the matter is that we are a product of our parent’s mistakes and remain to be misunderstood.
In the past several years we have seen much media attention focused on the generation that followed the boomers, popularly known as Generation X. Born between the mid-1960s and early 1980s , this is the most complex of the generation, and by far the least understood in spite of its current celebrity. This generation can best be described as the “Misunderstood Generation.” They are the generation that dealt with and are still dealing with broken homes, drug addiction, AIDS, and bleak futures. A great deal of the young people in this “Misunderstood Generation” think very little about the future or present issues. This generation has lost sight of long terms goals and the idea that hard work pays off in the end. Instead, the people in this generation concern themselves only with what will bring immediate satisfaction and gratification. This part of society cares only about money and themselves, never thinking about the consequences of their actions. The “Misunderstood Generation” feels overwhelmed with the idea of a country with a multi- trillion dollar deficit, a high rate of poverty, and relatively no jobs. The “Misunderstood Generation” wants less out of life. This generation has evolved from the children that came home from school to an empty house because mom had to go back to work after the divorce. This is the generation that got its morals from watching T.V. after school and was parented by an older brother or sister. This is the generation that has unconventional ways and does not always reason for them. They are uncertain and need answers. They poke and prod to find what is lying ahead. They have loud voices but are seldom heard. This is the generation which has high expectations and are often disappointed.
I, as well as all of the others born in my generation, were unleashed into an ever changing world. The advances of today can easily be old news tomorrow. Along with this they, the people who have lived and controlled up until this day, have allowed the respect of the living to dwindle with the consistently increasing ease of everyday life. Transportation from one point to another can be the simplest of tasks. Communication with someone in any far off land can be reached with just the touch of a button. And access to almost all the information the world has to offer is free for all with the use of the Internet. No other group of people have grown up with these things as being such the standards and necessities of life and living that they are today. We have never had a war in our country. All of the wars that might have occurred while we’ve lived our young lives could only be seen through the glare of the t.v. The same thing that has totally been a part of our life feeding us knowingly false images of what it means to “be”, but which seems to relate to us all. The same thing, however, does indeed show us the horrors of ever increasing crime and the vitality of these acts. Living has become an easier accomplishment with every new device, but with each new mark we leave on this world a new problem arises for us and all that follow. Today the marks are abundant and the affects are already in motion. This is what has made us a generation set aside and why it appears that we are some wonder to the rest of society. Tomorrow, however, we will wonder the same.
I believe movies such as Clerks, Reality Bites, and Boyz N the Hood accurately portray the “Misunderstood Generation.” All of these movies deal with real life problems of this generation and have characters that seem extremely life like. For example, in the movie Reality Bites, the main female character gets out of college to discover that she can’t find a job making much more than minimum wage. Another character in the movie gets fired regularly from different minimum wage jobs, lives with different friends from week to week, and only worries about what will make him happy. These movies reflect the “Misunderstood Generation” in a way that all people can try to understand what it is like to grow up this day in age. This is a generation that has never known a world without televistion.
In my own research I have found that all this and much more to be true. A male 18, says “In ten years I see myself employed in my field of study and with my first girlfriend.” When I asked him when the turning point of his live was he said; “It sounds really funny but it was when I read Catcher In the Rye. I went through a psychotic and depressing state of mind, after which I made a pact not to waste time and make the best out of every second of my existence.”
His was just an example that justifies the fact that there are many things that could influence the awaking of an individual. A male 17, wrote “I don’t think that we aren’t so complex, just that the real complexities of young people are finally being treated seriously and studied for the first time” when he was asked what his feelings were towards the statement; “Generation X is considered to be the most complex but least understood generation”
Role models and heroes paly a crucial part in the decision-making of today’s youth. Many of us look to somebody who’s popular, good-looking and successful to imitate, look up to and take advice from. Xers will sacrifice their lives for a worthy cause. Many are ready to do so now. But we need evangelists who will take the time to befriend us and listen to us and be genuine the whole time. I am not too aggravated with the statement “Generation X is considered to be the most complex but least understood generation” anymore. After all, everybody is different, society is different, and lets face it, I am only one of the thousands maybe even millions of gen exers out there.