Generation X

Essay by Andrew Douglas December 1996

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Generation X is the most misunderstood generation to date. Douglas Coupland attempts to make sense of what sense this generation has been left with. Due to high expectations placed upon Generation X, commonly know as 'X-ers', by the successful 'Baby Boomer' generation. Couplands' writings validate his generation (Generation X) and invalidates the Baby Boomers. Generation X, Shampoo Planet, and Microserfs were written to support the invalidating of the Baby Boomer Generations.

Generation X, a brilliant portrayal of the group with no direction and no hope, tells a tale of three friends who are living the stereotypical Generation X lifestyle. Andy (main character), Dag, Claire are close friends who all work 'McJobs' which is defined by Coupland as: '[a] low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low-benefit, no-future job in the service sector' (Generation X, pg.5). They each are misunderstood by their parents and are seen as underachievers in a society 'that has it easy.'

It is easy for parents of the 'X-ers' to believe this because all they've know is rise. Rise in population, rise in American business, and rise in overall success. These days all jobs are taken. The jobs out there are low paying and demeaning to overqualified applicants. Left only to scrap by, it is not unusual for an 'X-er' to feel 'Boomer Envy' described as the 'envy of material wealth and long-range material security accrued by older members of the baby boom generation by virtue of fortunate births' (Generation X, pg. 21). The fortunate thing is that 'X-ers' have come to realize money is not the key to life and community and commitment are what one should work towards.


In keeping the same 'money isn't everything' slogan, Coupland executes a novel modelled after young 'X-ers' who work for the most powerful Baby Boomer of them all, Bill Gates.