Question: Popular culture has dubbed you and your contemporaries Generation X. Respond to this label and describe any feelings brought about by this.
My main objective in writing this essay was to articulate my feelings on a topic which should matter to those of us who don’t want to be percieved in such a general manner. At the same time I tried to draw comparisons to misunderstood generations of the past. I drew the analogy about algebra because it provides a strong backbone for an essay which could become too abstract .
X. It is the consummate variable. It has an infinite number of possibilities. Basic algebra teaches us that in order to find out what X is, we would have to take the time to solve for X. The generation which I have been born into has been labeled Generation X, as if to say that we as a generation are considered impossible to classify, and like the letter X, we are an entire generation of variables. This is partially true, only because my peers and I don’t have a specific issue which brings us together. We have no war to oppose, no music calling for us to unite, nothing cohesive which binds us as a generation. We are instead like the molecules of some unknown gas: spread out, each floating in its own way, occasionally colliding, but as a whole not really traveling in any particular direction.
It is my perception that the label of Generation X has come to be almost exclusively condescending. I consider myself an avid reader of news periodicals, Time, Newsweek, etc., which often deal with the generation gap that exists today from the point of view of older generations. It is my opinion that any time the term Generation X is mentioned in these magazines, it is done in a way that makes us all seem like apathetic Beavis and Butt-Head followers, who play too many video games and spend too much time at the mall.
When reading these articles, I can’t help but think about Bob Dylan, 30 years ago, singing to the parents of his generation; “Don’t criticize what you can’t understand.” These words of a song became the rallying cry for an entire generation, who today treat us with the same lack of respect and understanding that they were subjected to so many years before. I find myself wondering if they can remember being young and misunderstood while struggling to find an identity, as so many of us are today.
I also think about all of my hard work at being a good person to all whom I encounter, and if it is even worth it, if my identity is already prejudged by older generations. The fact remains that both sides of this power struggle must have the desire to come together first, before any strides at curtailing the ever-widening generation gap can be made.
In the mathematics of life, we are each our own algebraic problem for which the identity of X must be solved. Some problems demand more work than others and many answers may come out to be very radical. But until the older generations and the youth of today sit down and put the time into their math work, we will all just remain as X. No identity of our own, no cause to fight for, just the false pretense that solving for X is too difficult, and that algebra arouses bad feelings.