Dear Americans Born Between 1970 – 1980:
This letter is admittedly guilty of mass generalization. However, I have found in my experience that stereotypes are often rooted in truth. The small percentage of you who do not identify with this missive may simply stop reading with my kudos. You have managed to transcend the difficulty of finding a way to responsibly leave your mark between the upwardly mobile Baby Boomer, and the post-Internet DIY entrepreneurship of Generation Y.
To wit: I am sorry to break your hearts, my demographic contemporaries, but you are neither invincible, nor incredibly special as your parents raised you to believe. I am not however, putting the blame for our downward spiral on our folks. We have had 30 years to come to terms with the fact that we are part of a larger society, with responsibilities to our bodies, our minds and our communities. We have singularly failed to do so, despite the benefits of childhood economic stability, modern technology and Prozac.
Those of us born in the 1970s are overweight, under-productive and dying younger. Our life expectancy is shorter than that of our parents, and instead of finding new and creative ways to outstrip their lofty economic and social accomplishments, we are moving back in with our folks in record numbers. We use handheld devices, computers and DVR to dull the mental pain of our stubborn mediocrity, convincing ourselves in the process that we are truth seekers and learners. When that doesn’t work, we take “legal” prescription drugs to make us feel better. If I could do so, I’d send a posthumous memoranda to Heath Ledger, Corey Haim, Brittany Murphy and her newly deceased husband Simon Monjack to find out how well that is faring.
We are becoming our own “lost generation,” living in a virtual reality of disappointment, founded by a sense of entitlement we were never owed, and apparently, do not want to earn on our own merits. What will be our legacy?
As we are becoming parents ourselves, do we accept that we will pass these bad habits, our inert pessimism, our cynical haplessness onto our children? I am concerned about larger issues of national security, the economy and the environment that threaten our global harmony. However, it will require the leadership of the Studio 54 generation to think and plan our way out of these messes, and I am not sure we’re equipped.
Time to wake up. Drop the KFC Double Down and pick up your pride. It’s time to get to work.