My Noble But Failing Attempt at Cultural Renewal
- It wasn’t just the Boomers’ ’60s ethos that dismantled the social order but the consumer junk culture as well, and much of that consumerism only made sense within status hierarchies that both an unsustainable economy and Boomer sensibilities (or later generations’ revulsion against them) have destroyed. If a fortysomething Generation X’s success is hard to measure, it’s because the old measures—traditional, commercial, and countercultural alike—have been hollowed of meaning. Human driftwood is just what you’d expect to come of this.
The Xers have suffered worse from this anomie than millennials only because they have some memory—if only second-hand memories from TV—of what life was like for the Boomers. They had jobs, intact homes, and what seemed like a purpose in changing the world. The Xers knew what they were missing. The millennials aren’t defined by that absence in the same way, and I think they have a sense that what they want they’re going to have to build anew, or rediscover.