The Slack Blog has been on hiatus. (Lelia Colette was born Nov. 22 — a month after I turned 40 years old. Very Gen X, that. But I digress.) It’s a new year and shit is still sucking big time! But don’t despair, because Gen X is all about resilience. For a primer on what Slackonomics is all about, check out an article in the Times titled:
MICHAEL TERRY led a double life for many years.
“During the day I worked at Morgan Stanley as an executive director, overseeing a group that raised money for hedge funds,” he said, “and at night I performed in comedy shows.”
Then, last February, his company announced a round of layoffs. Mr. Terry, motivated to pursue his goal of becoming a “Daily Show” correspondent, raised his hand.
“At the time, I figured the severance package would give me a couple of years to try comedy, something that was getting increasingly hard to balance with my day job.”
Since leaving Morgan Stanley, Mr. Terry, 37, has shot two pieces as an on-the-scene reporter for the Onion News Network, and his sketch comedy group, Party Central USA, has been given a prime spot at the coming Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival.
With Wall Street hemorrhaging jobs, bonuses disappearing and the financial sector going through a seismic shift, some bankers and lawyers are switching lanes to more creative career paths. They are putting down their Wall Street Journals and picking up Variety as they try their hands at comedy, filmmaking and writing. …
There you have it.
And here is my perfect little girl, Lelia (pronounced LELL-ee-uh).
I happened across a Gen X blog that reviewed my book and I couldn’t be more pleased that it actually resonates with someone who goes by “junkdrawer67: One GenXers Take on Stuff.” So here’s one GenX bloggers take on my book:
I was a little leery before reading it, dreading that it might be another dull book about economics, even if it was the economics of Generation X. It is anything but dull. … Slackonomics is the author’s term for Generation X’s particular economic predicament, history, mind-set, etc. And it is more than just some hip, pop culture, ironic wink. There’s good, quality stuff in here.
Just as the heart of Generation X is turning 40 years old, guess what else just celebrated its 40th birthday? The office cubicle! Or as Douglas Coupland coined the term, “veal fattening pens.” The cubicle was designed by the late Robert Propst at the furniture design company Herman Miller, which launched it as the “Action Office” in July 1968.
Of course, the office cubicle has inspired an entire genre of humor, from Dilbert to Office Space.
But leave it to a Gen Xer to bring a contemporary design sensibility to the cubicle, as Fred Dust of IDEO did back in 2001. Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, approached IDEO, a San Francisco-based design firm, to rethink the cubicle. The result sounds very Gen X and already a little dated! As the press release of the time states:
The result is a modular cubicle that allows each worker to select the components from a “kit of parts” and create a space based on his or her tastes and lifestyle. Practical considerations include modules for seats, computers, displays, and lights; more whimsical modules provide a hammock, an aquarium, and a hamster wheel.
Interestingly, Herman Miller just came out with a new line of “office” furniture that is designed for the home office — which is precisely where a lot of us are working these days, as I point out in my book Slackonomics.
Somehow I missed this, but a Boston Globe blog Brainiac had an item about Slackonomics last month. Joshua Glenn, who writes the blog, is a generational connoisseur and has a whole new scheme. Apparently I’m not Generation X but a PCer. He rightly points out that the original gen xers (or OGX) were older than the demographic that is now considered Generation X. What is a PCer?
We PCers were in our teens and 20s in the Eighties (1984-93; not to be confused with the ’80s); and in our 20s and 30s in the Nineties (1994-2003; not to be confused with the ’90s). Our immediate elders — the OGX — managed to squeak through the Seventies without being noticed by lifestyle journalists, management consultants, marketers, and pop demographers — because, according to the statistics, they were the tail end of the baby boom. This made OGXers feel neglected, and they preferred it that way; in fact, they built a negatively-charged generational identity around their non-Boomerness.
But PCers weren’t so lucky. Not only were we pigeonholed by the above-mentioned types at an impressionable age, we have been repeatedly lumped into a single, fabricated generation along with older and younger non-PCers.
He goes on to dissect a 1990 Time magazine essay that fails to distinguish between OGX and PCers:
Myth: PCers are “passive,” “apathetic,” and “indecisive,” according to Time. Fact: In the same essay, we read that 1990′s twentysomethings “feel the opposing tugs of making money and doing good works, but they refuse to get caught up in the passion of either one. They reject 70-hour workweeks as yuppie lunacy, just as they shirk from starting another social revolution.” Correct! I’ve said it before: Ambivalence — being pulled in two directions simultaneously — is not the same thing as apathy or even indecisiveness. The slacker is apathetic, the idler ambivalent. The slacker can’t be bothered to claw his way up the ladder of success, or overthrow the established order; the idler redefines success, and eschews lifestyle revolution for style-of-life revolution — which tends to happen off the radar.
As I’ve been talking to people about getting knocked up and what this means in terms of getting married and my career, I’ve found myself saying rather astonishing things, like, “I’m not that concerned about my career. It’ll be there no matter what I decide to do.” Similarly, while my partner and I are a couple, I’m not concerned about getting married because I know he is going to be involved with our child and in my life no matter what our official status is. Both of these things are big changes in American society which are turning out to have huge and mostly positive effects on families and fertility rates.
I write in Slackonomics about how educated, middle class Generation X parents are having more children than similarly situated baby-boomers, and in fact are nudging up the fertility rate here in the US not seen since the 1960s. I explain this in my book — and so does yesterday’s Times magazine — in a somewhat astonishing and counter-intuitive way.
Professional American middle class couples are more open to flexible gender roles, as I noted in a previous blog post about shared parenting, which make it easier and more attractive for professional women to have more children than previous generations. While fertility rates were dropping among the more educated and professional classes for many decades, that changed with Generation X as strict rules about who does what in the household have loosened considerably, and as post-Boomer men have become more equal partners in child-rearing even when the marriage or partnership dissolves. So getting married and having kids is a whole lot more attractive for women who now have more options about what to do with their lives. (A spate of Gen X fatherhood books attests to how Xers have brought shared parenting into the mainstream; see Neal Pollack’s book, Alternadad, as one example).
What’s more, the Times magazine piece adds another interesting dimension to the American fertility puzzle. Read the rest of this entry » »