Generation X
Friday, November 21, 2008

When I was a teenager I watched Dana Carvey on Saturday Night Live play a character called "Grumpy Old Man". Whilst in character he would rail on younger generations and proclaim loudly how much harder life was in his day, all in the spirit of comedy.

I'd compare Dana's character to conversations of older men in my local barber shop, or at church gatherings, and I resolved I'd never become such a person when I grew up. I understood my youth culture well, and decided I'd always be in tune with it.

Now I'm just over 30 and, for the first time, looking down on younger kids. I'm observing the Generation Y crowd in high school and college. I see the new generaton of kids coming after, a generation of children sometimes refered to as the Millennals. With all their technology and devices they have it so easy! And thus, I have become Dana Carvey's grumpy old man. Please follow me through my rant. Perhaps you will laugh. Compared to my childhood, kids these days live in a damn utopia!

1. When I was a kid we had no internet. There were no fast computers. We had green-screen pieces of shit and the Commodore 64. Sometimes your Commodore would crash when you were playing a game....or during a program load.....or if the wind hit it wrong. When this happened you'd be graced with a Blue screen filled with illogical computer code and there was nothing you could do but re-boot.

2. We didn't have multi-terabyte hard drives or hand held thumb drives. We had 64K of computer memory. And great big floppy discs. They were bulky and stupid and easily damaged. You could accidently erase them with a magnet. Or if you set them on your external disc drive when it was running. When they did work you had to be careful you didn't fill them with too much information. We actually counted how many bytes we had to work with!

3. We had no email. If you wanted to send someone a message you had to pick up a pen. And then use paper. After that you had to mail it into the USPS and it often took more than 2 days to arrive at it's destination. Sometimes it got lost or arrived damaged!

4. We didn't have wikipedia or blackberries with which to access it. If you wanted to know something you had to go to a library. And use a freaking card catalog. My elementry school taught an entire class in the library on how to use those stupid cards. If your book was checked out you had to wait. If it was stolen you'd never get to know your answer.

5. We had no MP3's or torrent sites from which to steal music. We stole our tunes the old fashioned way: from music stores. We stuck CDs in our jackets and ran past security! Or we'd try to record a song from the radio and if we were lucky the goddamn DJ wouldn't talk over part of it.

6. We didn't have cell phones. We had one phone per household. It had a cord. Sometimes people or pets would trip over it when in use. Sometimes the cord would knock stuff off tables. And we didn't have features on our phones like call waiting, or multiple lines. We had one line, and if someone was on it, the new caller got a busy signal. We didn't have caller ID either. When the phone rang you'd have no idea who it was. It could be your school, your mom, your drug dealer, a collections agent, your just didn't know!

7. We didn't have Xbox 360's or Playstations with awesome lifelike graphics. We had 8-bit nintendos. Or worse, the stupid atari 2600! With strange games like Yar's Revenge that made no sense! Your guy was a goddamn brown square! You had to actually use your imagination! There were no multiple levels or awesome ending animations. It was just one screen forever! And you could never win! The game just kept getting harder and faster until you DIED! Just like LIFE!!

8. Arcade games didn't cost multiple dollars like Dance Dance Revolution. They were 25 cents. And arcades had character back then. When you walked in, deep base sounds of explosions would vibrate the carpet. Places like Chucky Cheese had hundreds of them and their sounds mixed into a glorious cacophony. We played scary games like Centipede and Gauntlet. Where you had to frantically fend off frightening looking insects with a bulky roller ball! Or a life meter constantly ticked down in your face while the Gauntlet narrator reminded you how badly you needed food or that you were about to die!

9. We didn't have modern stadium seating for the moviegoing public. All the seats were the same height! If a tall guy on old lady with a hat sat in front of you and you couldn't see, you were screwed! And we didn't have engaging comic book movies with great CGI effects. We had one comic movie. It was called Superman and it had 3 sequels. The banishment of General Zod and his cronies (screaming into the frightening mirror-like phantom zone) would scare kids and we'd cry.

10. We had cable TV with 15 stations. To change channels you had to get up and turn a knob. There was no on screen interface to tell you what was on. You had to use a stupid TV guide booklet. And there was no cartoon network channel with cool stuff like Adult Swim. You had to wait until Saturday morning to watch cartoons. Do you kids hear what I'm saying? You had to wait ALL WEEK for 4 freaking hours of cartoons! And there was no such thing as the Sci-Fi channel either. We didn't have well thought out shows like Firefly or the new Battlestar Galactia. We had the OLD Battlestar Galactia. And 60's Star Trek re-runs. And Dr. Who. Sometimes the plots made no sense! If we wanted popcorn with our Sci-fi we had to use an idiotic product called Jiffy Pop. You held it over a friggin stove! And it always burned and tasted terrible! Imagine that!

You kids are so spoiled today!
You have no idea how good you have it!
You wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes in 1987!



Saturday, November 22, 2008 12:55 PM


I'm over 40 and I went through all the same stuff. Also, I remember a time when there was no cable TV. In Canada we had 3 channels and one of them was French! Also, no computers games. We played Monopoly and Operation and we liked it! You did have to wait all week for 4 hours of cartoons on Saturday and one hour of Walt Disney on Sunday. No VCRs to record anything, no Walkman to carry your music with you. We had 8 tracks and record players.

We wrote letters and postcards and had to actually got to a store and buy a gift or call Sears and order something. No in those days. A bookstore wasn't a place where you sat and drank overpriced coffee.

We played baseball in summer, hockey in winter, built cabins in the woods, tried to find ways to sneak our parents booze and cigarettes, and trying to get money to get booze or to borrow someone's car to go on a date on a Friday night was like planning the Normandy Invasion.

A camera had film and flashbulbs and you took it to a shop and had to wait a few days and later only one hour to see your pictures. Unless you had an instant camera, which was like a miracle the first time I saw one when I was about 8 years old. Going to Macdonald's was a once or twice a year treat, a movie maybe four times a year. You saw all new movies in a theater not on the Internet or a pirated DVD. I saw Star Wars before it was popular and you couldn't get a ticket. I didn't understand Close Encounters or Blade Runner until years after I saw them the first time.

And that's my rant! Oh, but I do love all the modern technology. Hell, I'm using it right now.

Friday, November 21, 2008 10:23 PM


I don't look down upon the younger generation because they have things that I don't. I look down upon them because of things that I had that THEY don't.

(NOTE: The below is a generalisation and of course will have some exceptions.)

A good example is a lack of education. Today they basically get a free ride constantly told how awesome they are. This produces self-entitled functionally retarded students. This is regardless of how much they actually study as even those that had parents that forced 24/7 study hours on them, don't actually learn things. To them, memorising is "learning."

Another example is lack of independence. They'll complain and talk about how much of an individual they are, but that's a bunch of crap. When I see parents walking around with there kid(s) at University, figuring things out for them, buying books for them, it's just sad. When I went to University my parents thrusted that upon me and I was embarrassed of it and all those around me clearly felt for me having to go through that. But, every kid that I see doing this, doesn't appear to think that it is even remotely out of the ordinary. Similarly for parents coffering there kids around when ever and where ever they want.

They also have little to no work ethic. In fact, a couple years ago this was talked about in magazines. As in, the employers are actually considering putting in the job advertisements, "we expect you to work your entire shift." Because, the younger generation thinks that going to work is getting paid and doing work when not talking amongst themselves.

The younger generation will be lost when they actually have to fend for themselves. What will they do when mommy and/or daddy can't be there at there job to defend them. Well, we know the answer to that question because it's already happening. Work becomes like paid high-school.

Friday, November 21, 2008 6:32 PM


As part of the generation closer to ecgordon, I feel for you since I've already lived through this realization for several generations. And having parents that were children during the Depression and grandparents that somehow remained employed during said Depression, I can only say that simpler pleasures can have a much greater reward than many people alive today can comprehend. And I'm glad I bothered to listen to a lot of practical advice from my elders even though I thought them hopelessly out of date. The more things change, the more they remain the same. That's human nature.

Friday, November 21, 2008 1:34 PM


Should I tell you how you wouldn't have made it in 1957?

Not only no internet, no computers, no video games, no cable whatsoever. Only three channels on tv, so we ended up watching crap that today I would be embarrassed to admit I watched.

Damn, you kids from the 80s had it so easy.


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