Mia spoke to The Project on Channel 10 yesterday as part of a ‘battle of the generations’ series. She’s calling it for Generation X. Are you convinced?
Q: Mia, what defines Generation X?
MIA: Our awesomeness? Well we’re quiet achievers – Boomers and Gen Ys make such a fuss, we just get on with it. Gen Xers are independent, resourceful, laid-back and self-sufficient. We had to be. We grew up in such uncertain times – we saw our parents lose jobs in the recession and we had to deal with AIDS and the ozone layer and the cold war… things were tough.
Q: Do you identify as an Xer, and if so, how?
M: Yeah, I totally do. So much of it is about pop culture touch points: Haysi Fantayzee, Chances, Helen & Mikey on Triple J, Desperately Seeking Susan, Kramer Vs Kramer, Breakfast Club, Reality Bites, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Melrose Place…
Q: How difficult was it coming after the Baby Boomers? Because they really got to have the fun, when you Gen Xers arrived the world kind of became a scary place…..
M: Well, the Baby Boomers did take all the oxygen – and they still do! They had free love and The Beatles and The Rolling Stones… they got the pill and we got condoms! Us Xers came of age during a really depressing and scary time – AIDS, the cold war, environmental disasters, the recession, skin cancer…
Q: What was life like growing up in the 1970’s 1980’s?
M: Well, the Puberty Blues years were awesome in many ways – there was a lot of freedom. Our boomer parents were all in the workforce – the first generation of women to do so en masse – and we were pretty much left to our own devices. I was a latchkey kid – everyone was!
But the time after that was a major downer. We have pretty potent memories of all these new public awareness campaigns – safe sex, Slip Slop Slap, Life: Be In It – suddenly everything was going to kill us – sex, smoking, the sun, eating too much… Things were very serious in the 80s at the same time as Wall St was booming and there was this massive wave of greed and consumerism.
Q: Gen X were also known as the MTV generation, so why did your music suck so much?
M: Suck? Our music didn’t suck! We had Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Midnight Oil, U2, Kylie… Wham!
Q: The Boomers protested wars, civil rights, gender equality and seemed to have a lot of fun doing all of that…what have you lot done for the world?
M: Three words, buddy: Google, Amazon, Youtube.
Q: The Boomers and Gen Y say you’re a miserable bunch of complainers. Is everything okay?
M: I think Gen X are a bit like the middle child. We’re sandwiched by Gen Y and the Boomers who suck up all the oxygen. We’re under-appreciated, dammit!
Q: Gen X was known as the generation that refused to grow up. How are you handling middle age?
M: The great thing about following the Boomers is that they keep moving the goalposts. Right now they’re saying that 60 is the new 40, so that must mean 40 is the new 20.
Q: How hard is it to be looking after ageing parents and young kids all at the same time?
M: Ageing parents? You must be kidding. My parents are grey nomads. The only reason they can’t help out with the kids more is that they’re off dancing with the Masai tribes in Africa or trekking in Vietnam. All my friends have parents who are either still working or travelling the world or around Australia having a blast.
Q: I can’t afford to buy a house, who should I blame?
M: Your bank manager.
Q: Mia, you probably had to pay for your education, whereas many Boomers went to uni for free. And pretty soon we’ll all be paying for the Baby Boomers retirement. Is that fair?
M: It’s interesting how Gen X really got dudded with HECS after the Boomers got free tertiary education. But we just kind of sucked it up. There weren’t many political protests. Gen X were not a terribly politically active generation. Probably because we were all madly working to pay our way through uni! Now that we can get into clicktivism via Get Up and Change.org, we’re more into it.
Q: Let’s now look at the generation that came after you: what defines Gen Y?
M: They live their lives so publicly. So I think they’re defined by this scrutiny and self-scrutiny.
Q: Does anything annoy you about them?
M: When I first had to work with them, Gen Y drove me BONKERS. They couldn’t seem to stay in a job for more than 5 minutes and they needed soooo much feedback and validation at work.
Q: What do you admire about them?
M: I love how they don’t see their lives in the same linear way as Xers and Boomers. They see no reason why a law degree should mean they become lawyers. Or why they shouldn’t take a year to go work in an Ethiopian orphanage instead of taking a promotion.
Q: They seem to have this confidence and in some ways a sense of entitlement about them. Where does that come from?
M: Their Boomer parents have spent a lot of time telling them how fabulous they are and wrapping them in cotton wool. Gen Y are the first generation to be raised in the culture of ‘self-esteem’ and this absolute focus on building it up.
Q: What kind of world have you and the Boomers left them?
M: I think Gen Y have inherited a great world – it’s alarming how often you pass 30 and start saying, “You don’t know how great you have it! In my day…..we had no texting and no Facebook, we had to TALK TO PEOPLE.”
Q: They’re the most educated generation in history, but they don’t have the job security of the Boomers. Do you feel sorry for them?
M: How can I possibly feel sorry for them? They have THE INTERNET. No, I certainly feel sorry for all the journalism students who are going into an industry in turmoil with very few jobs available.
Q: When we’re all long gone and historians are looking into the three generations we’re discussing today, which will they say was the most influential and why?
M: Definitely Gen X. We had Kylie and Google. The end.