Monday, August 03, 2009

This woman knows more about you and your parents than you ever will

Talkin' bout my generation

A few weeks back, the WaPo profiled a "Generational Consultant" named Anne Loehr. Loehr, who is in her mid-40s and spent an entire decade in the '90s running a hotel in Kenya, claims to know how to speak the jive (i.e. she's "hip to that" and she's way "off the chain") among the young people of Generations X and Y. And she tells banking execs how to relate to younger clients, "enlightening" them on age-appropriate slang (the article claims that she actually got one of her advisees to use the terms "sucks" and "cool" more often when speaking to a particularly youthful client). The Gawker post rightly dubbed this woman as having the "fakest job in America."

Here's a breakdown of Loehr's cheat sheet, according to WaPo:

"Generation Y" (born 1981-2001):
Life-Shaping Events: 9/11, Reality TV, AIDS, Internet boom/bust, Safety laws.
Traits: Authentically confident, Well-educated, Tolerant and diverse, community-focused, Tech-savvy, Socially, politically and eco-conscious.

"Generation X" (born 1965-1980):
Life-Shaping Events: Stagflation, Gulf War, High divorce rates, Women working, MTV.
Traits: Pragmatic, Self-sufficient, Skeptical, Flexible, Individualistic, "Me" Generation, Distrust authority.

"Baby Boomers" (born: 1946-1964):
Life-Shaping Events: Man on the Moon, Vietnam War, Free love.
Traits: Idealistic, "Break the rules," Time-stressed, Politically correct, Causes, Making a difference, Consensus-driven.

"Traditionalists" (born: 1922-1945):
Life-Shaping Events: World War II, Depression, FDR Era.
Traits: Conservative, Disciplined, Respect authority, Loyal, Patriotic, Risk-averse, Trust the system

Since I was born in 1979, apparently my entire world was rocked by stagflation. Because I totally know what that is you guys, and it pains me deeply--it haunts my dreams, and makes me depressed, like, all the time. And "Me" Generation? Excuse me but the last time I checked, that label was ascribed to the Boomers. And what does that even mean, anyways? As if any generation accustomed to a healthy GDP, substantial suburban growth etc wouldn't indulge and become more "me" focused?!

Oh, and I like how the "Y"ers have five major "life-shaping events,"one of which is "safety laws." Whereas the Boomers are marked by three simple things: "man on the moon," "Vietnam war," and "free love." Because, you know, civil rights movements didn't affect anyone back then or even now. Even for the "Y"s, gay rights don't bear any kind of significance on anyone's life and how they view the world around them.

'Well,' you say, 'if you're so smart why don't make up your own list?' You know why I don't make up my own list? You wanna know why? Because this is a load of bullshit--this is like astrology for money-grubbing bankers and other vile, treacherous vermin. What angers me the most is that this woman is making a killing with this "job" of hers; she is influencing the minds of many; and she is being profiled by the WaPo with a 1,500 word fluff piece honoring her work. It makes me physically ill.

Then again, I think what really angers me most is, out of all the myriad signifiers that could have marked a collective generational arch, art and culture were not looked upon as significant means of identification. When I think of generational identity, the first thing I think about is culture: music, film, literature, et al. What was embraced, what was not; who were the visionaries that left enduring legacies. I don't think to bust out an American history textbook from the sixth grade and make bullet points for current affairs. And the "traits" bits are so painfully vague, so disgustingly is this woman employed, in this economy, again?

The WaPo completely missed the real story: how are people like this in business? Is there a hidden market catering to banker fatcats with stimulus money to burn? If they would only try to answer that question, they'd have a much larger readership. Instead, they've become a target for the gawking. Yet another MSM tragedy and bellwether media group showing signs of self-destruction.

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