The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

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I’m only now digging into Joshua Glenn’s generations, recommended by Tim—but I gotta tell you, this is too much fun. Jason Kottke provides a handy menu; in particular, I recommend reading about the New Gods, the OGX, and of course: the Net generation.

That last label seems really right to me, by the way. It’s become increasingly clear, based on nostalgia that’s welling up even now in our late 20s, that this generation is going to find itself, at age 90, still swapping tales of the first BBSes we ever dialed, the first web pages we ever wrote. “And it was by hand, too!”

Now, I have no idea if this is true, but I like the sound of it:

Whereas OGXers and PCers enjoy brooding over the past, assembling fragments of past cultural moments into collages in various media, Netters take a less complicated approach. They just dig the past, and slip it on like a Halloween costume. (Paging Andre 3000, Amanda Palmer, Sisqo, Pink, and Jack White!) It’s no longer the case that Americans in their 20s and early 30s want their reheated entertainments freshened up with air quotes. These days, they prefer taking it straight.

Funny, though, to see the list of notable births from 1979 (which is my year, too, if just barely):

1979: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Claire Danes, Kate Hudson, Foxy Brown, Rachael Leigh Cook, Mena Suvari, Rosario Dawson, Adam Brody, Brandy, Lance Bass, Pete Wentz, Norah Jones, Pink, Bam Margera, Adam Levine, Avey Tare, Nathan Followill, Alison Lohman, Brandon Routh, Chris Daughtry, Dan Auerbach, Nick Stahl. Elsewhere: Pete Doherty, Heath Ledger, Evangeline Lilly, Corinne Bailey Rae, Petra Nemcova, Sophie Dahl, Matt Tong.

Wait, is there seriously not a single writer on that list? It’s all actors and musicians! Something is amiss, here.

August 13, 2009 / Uncategorized


Well, I’m a writer, and I was born in 1979. 🙂

I think part of the issue is that 1) actors and musicians peak younger than most writers do and 2) if you scan lists of famous people born in 1979, it’s a lot of actors and musicians; places like Variety are the ones keeping the lists.

It’s not as though 1980, 81, 82, or later have any writers either. So far as I can tell, the youngest writer (not counting Perez Hilton) is Jonathan Safran Foer, who was born in 1977.

[PS: Did a double check to make sure, and I missed (at least) Diablo Cody, born in 78.]

Yeah, to be clear, what I meant was: Oh come on, there have GOT to be notable writers/thinkers born in these years — not “alas, why are we a generation of actors?”

Damn you Claire Dane for taking my spot in the Yale class of 2001! Damn you Baz Luhrmann for giving her the film role that got her in! Damn you!!!

I saw that Kottke post today too and really enjoyed Glenn’s observations.

The one thing I disagreed with was his assertion, w/r/t the “Net Generation”, that we “[don’t] remember a time before fast computers and Internet service”. So untrue! Luckily, a couple of commenters took issue.

One had this to say:

I think you underestimate our memories of pre-Internet days, though. Similar to our perceptions of the dying industrial economy, our perceptions of the analog era were that of a child growing up with an old dog

Thesis: the Net generation is the first generation that Glenn doesn’t [have the tools to] understand.

This is because he’s a PCer, so it’s the first generation for which he’s projecting an identity for people younger than himself. This is a very tricky business; you don’t have lived memory OR archival records to consult, but (more often than not) just a loose sense of what the kids today are up to.

I also think that the closer you get to defining generations (rather than epochs) in terms of their communication media, the more quickly you run into broad class differences. Generalizations make sense for a certain kind of middle-to-upper-middle class experience — the kids a few years back but they start to fall apart once you start peering around their edges.

Also, the folks who belong to these generations take it a little more personally, because, um, they’re right there next to you.

The snarkmatrix awaits you

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