I have always been peeved by generation labels. The most notorious is, of course, "Generation X", whatever that means. I don't even know, and I've heard the term six kabillion times. Baby boomers I get, but whatever. I think I hate that phrase now because I've heard the sentence "the baby boomers are retiring" so many times now and it's clear they're all going to live to be two hundred and fifty and work sixty hours a week doing it. Also I've became very hostile towards the 60's and people who trumpet it as some sort of goddamn pinnacle of good times, but that's another rant for another time.
I finally jumped on the iPod bandwagon last week, although I am rocking out the super low-end 512 mb shuffle. As I was fondling my new toy lovingly it occurred to me that the obvious label for the latest generation is iGeneration. I immediately loathed myself for thinking this, but it made so much sense. People have been clawing for new terms to throw behind "Generation" in the wake of Generation X, and it all sounds like a bunch of crap. Which is to say even crappier than the term Generation X. Generation Next? Generation Y? Please. I should note at this time that I immediately realized there was no way in hell I was the first person to think of this, and a quick search on Google for "igeneration" proved this to most certainly be the case, although it isn't nearly as referenced as I thought it might be.
iGeneration is ideal because it's just smugly cute enough to encapsulate the roiling condescension that vomits forth from the majority of mass media and pretty much everyone over 30. There is a lot of dull droning about how it's a generation of endless connectivity coupled with unknown levels of insulation and isolation. The iPod is sort of a symbol of this latter element. Just coming home on the subway I was listening to mine while standing next to three other people who were also all listening to iPods. It must have looked really dumb, but at the same time it's not even unusual anymore. All three of them had glassy eyed stares that I can only assume I had as well.
With iGeneration you get the smartass pun out of "i" which refers both to this inundation of technology by alluding to whole slew of Apple products, as well as the notion that it's a "me me me" generation. My fascination with this isn't that I think it's right, but how tightly it slips over the general assumptions and preconceptions about youth today. There's also the familiar irony that accompanies pretty much i-anything. Everyone loves irony, right?
I think I'm waiting on this the way an angry teenager waits on their parents to say something unreasonable. Every time I hear or read some patronizing comment or other from someone in the age 50+ category about how self-absorbed young people are today, I want to tear into them and scream that so many of the problems we have are the result of the massive failures of the generation that was supposed to save the world, those very fifty-somethings. It's craving fuel for the fire, and with "iGeneration" I've gotten myself all riled up over a semantic issue that hardly even exists, so I need them to hurry the hell up. Then again, half of them don't even seem to know what an iPod is. Maybe I need to settle down and start watching American Idol or something. Oh Simon Cowell, you're so bad!