The Legacy and Future of Generation X

In this particular episode of in the hive, three guests—vanity fair editor-in-chief Radhika Jones, Author and Podcaster Molly Jong Fast, and stand-up comic and actor Patton Oswalt– Discuss the cultural and political legacy of Generation X. Ask beehive cohost Joe Hagan: How did the slacker generation, once known for irony and ambivalence, survive the 21st century?

The promise of ironic distancing may not have lasted long, but Generation X has become the last skeptics of the digital age. Subsequent generations “introduced this 24/7 grind mentality,” says Oswalt, “where the people who live a little bit on the edge, who wanted to do creative stuff and make enough money to survive, get squeezed out… It’s like if you don’t grind all the time, you should disappear from the map. And that’s really, really scary for me.”

“We’re skeptical about effort for the sake of effort,” notes Jones. “So there’s a way we’re motivated by substance, and we’re wary of anything that’s not substantial.”

Thirty years ago, Generation Xers celebrated what is now referred to as “quiet quitting,” but as some recent polls have shown, a large proportion of Americans born between 1965 and 1980 were also inclined to do so donald trump in the recent election – a confusing data point. “We had this kind of belief that we were entitled to certain things,” says Jong-Fast. “And when you feel entitled to something and you’re angry and you’re convinced someone else has it, that can lead to Trumpism.”

Last but not least, Gen X has always been great at spitting from the sidelines: “We’re good critics,” says Jones.


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