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Generation PC, 1964-73

Posted by Joshua Glenn  January 22, 2008 01:30 AM

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Thanks, readers, for the emails urging me to reveal my half-baked opinions about the Boomers (1944-53), the PCers (1964-73), and the other American generations about which I haven't yet written. So... here are a few thoughts on my own cohort, the PCers.

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BRAINIAC'S GUIDE TO AMERICA'S RECENT GENERATIONS

1884-93: Lost Generation The New Kids
1894-1903: Lost Generation Hardboiled Generation
1904-13: The Greatest Generation Partisans
1914-23: The Greatest Generation The New Gods
1924-33: The Silent Generation Postmodernist Generation
1934-43: The Silent Generation Anti-Anti-Utopian Generation
1944-53: Baby Boomers
1954-63: Baby Boomers OGX (Original Generation X)
1964-73: Generation X PC Generation
1974-83: Generations X/Y Net Generation
1984-93: Millennials
1994-2003: Millennials TBA

Please credit Brainiac/Joshua Glenn whenever you use this guide. Got a beef with my periodization, or different generational name suggestions? Leave a comment on this post or email me. Born between 1954 and 1993 and still unsure about whether you're a Boomer, Xer, Yer, or Millennial? Here's a handy guide.

***

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. For example:

* Neil Howe and William Strauss's bestselling books "Generations" (1991) and "13th-Gen" (1993) claimed that the post-baby-boom "13ers" were born between 1961-81. As always, Howe and Strauss were casting their net too wide. (In their 1997 book "The Fourth Turning," Howe and Strauss would make a half-confession: "Compared to any other generation born in this century, [the 13th generation] is less cohesive, its experiences wider and its culture more splintery." That's because the so-called 13th generation lumps together PCers with younger OGXers and older Netters.

* In 1992, Ross Perot's presidential campaign attempted to capture the youth vote by funding a libertarian generational front organization, Lead... or Leave, which was fronted by a couple of wealthy PCers, Rob Nelson and Jon Cowan, and which argued for the privatization of Social Security. Then there was self-proclaimed "economist and renowned Gen X'er" Meredith Bagby, a protegée of Perot's and the author of 1998's "Rational Exuberance" -- a "post-partisan" manifesto that argued for the privatization of Social Security. Bagby said she was proud to be a member of Generation X, which she defined as those born between 1965-76. Why did she stretch Generation X so far into the 1970s? Because Bagby was born in 1974... meaning she was neither an OGXer nor a PCer. Call her a generational carpetbagger.

* In 1993, another suspect generational group, Third Millennium, announced that it had formed to represent the concerns of those Americans who'd been dubbed "twentysomethings" or "Generation X." Its leaders claimed the cohort in question was born between 1961 and 1981. No wonder TM founder Richard Thau said: "The soul of Gen X is amorphous, intangible, elusive." They had their dates mixed up! Not coincidentally, "13th-Gen" coauthor William Strauss was a Third Millennium advisor; and Meredith Bagby was on its board; also, Lead or Leave's founders helped craft the Third Millennium manifesto. Third Millennium is best known, these days, for lobbying Congress on behalf of those interested in privatizing Social Security.

* In 1990, Time Magazine claimed that the "twentysomething" generation was born between 1961-72; and in 1997, Time claimed that "Generation X" was born between 1965-77. Time was attempting to define and describe PCers, but the first time around, they lumped in younger OGXers, and the second time, older Netters. What gives?

Because of sloppy generation-defining, not to mention cynical political maneuvering, we PCers (1964-73) have been confused about who and what we were; we've been prevented from achieving what you might call generational consciousness. Until now!

***

[more after the jump]

So who are the PCers? What makes us tick?

* Myth: PCers "possess only a hazy sense of their own identity," according to an influential 1990 Time story on the post-Boomer "twentysomethings." Fact:PCers have been prevented from achieving what you might call generational consciousness. If "twentysomethings" were hazy on their identity as a coherent generation, it's because (as Alex Star argued in a smart 1993 New Republic story titled "The twentysomething myth") they actually didn't constitute one.

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July 16, 1990: Time fails to distinguish between OGXers and PCers

Time Magazine's half-accurate generalizations about the generation that I call "PC" were taken by many -- for example, Hollywood filmmakers and late-born PCer Kevin Smith; cf. "Singles," "Reality Bites," "Clerks," "Empire Records," "Kicking and Screaming," "High Fidelity" -- as the last word on the subject of America's post-boomers. Which explains why we PCers have gazed at ourselves in a distorted mirror ever since. For example...

* 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. (NB: I don't mean to argue that all, or even many, PCers are style-of-life radicals. But we're not apathetic.)

* Myth: PCers want to "postpone growing up," according to Time. "At a time when they should be graduating, entering the work force and starting families of their own, [this generation] is balking at those rites of passage." Fact: "A prime reason [for their slow start in adult life] is their recognition that the American Dream is much tougher to achieve after years of housing-price inflation and stagnant wages," we read elsewhere in the same essay. Think about it. Boomeranging (i.e., back home to one's parents, after college or between jobs), rejuvenilation (think: Jack Black), and other PCer-pioneered styles of life may look like an unhealthily extended adolescence. But perhaps this is a new form of maturity. (NB: I don't mean to defend pathetic Peter Pan types; but rejuveniles are a different story.)

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Jack Black, rejuvenile

* Myth: PCers "have been handed down everyone else's music, clothes and styles, leaving little room for their own imaginations.... What young adults have managed to come up with is either nuevo hipster or ultra-nerd, but almost always a bland imitation of the past." Fact: Um, well, that's sorta true. Whereas the OGXers looked on their immediate elders as a wicked older stepsister, PCers admire OGXers as though they were a cool older cousin, the kind who turns you onto the latest trends and styles whenever you see them. OGXers gave the world punk, post-punk, hardcore, speed metal, and hip hop; PCers merely came up with gangsta rap, new-school and alternative hip hop; grunge, nu metal, and alt-rock. (Plus white rappers: The Beastie Boys, House of Pain, Vanilla Ice, Kid Rock, Eminem. All PCers.) OGXer TV show about adults in no hurry to grow up: "Seinfeld"; PCer TV show about adults in no hurry to grow up: "Friends." OGXer pop icons: Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince; PCer pop icons: New Kids on the Block, The Backstreet Boys. OGXer high school fantasy: "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"; PCer high school fantasy: "Beverly Hills, 90210." OGXer novelist/spokesman: David Foster Wallace; PCer novelist/spokesman: David Eggers. "Bland imitation of the past" -- yep, I'm afraid so.

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Still, PCer entertainment and culture isn't all bad. I, for one, think highly of: Run DMC, Slick Rick, KRS-One, and The Wu-Tang Clan; Nirvana, Pavement, Beck, and Wilco; The Baffler and McSweeney's Hermenaut; Chris Rock, Stephen Colbert, Margaret Cho, and Sarah Silverman. Oh, and: Janeane Garofalo, Diane Lane, Maura Tierney, Lisa Bonet, Parker Posey, Molly Ringwald, Tina Fey, Uma Thurman, Shannen Doherty, and Winona Ryder. Also, PCers do have an aesthetic: Call it a Benjamin-esque brooding over the fragments. Think of the torn-up visual style of "South Park"; the frenetic and eclectic sampling of second-generation hip hop, not to mention "Paul's Boutique" and "Odelay"; Wes Anderson's set design; Chip Kidd's magpied book covers; even the paranoid, connect-the-dots worldview of J.J. Abrams, Dan Brown, Devin McKinney, the Wachowski Brothers, and Timothy McVeigh.

* Myth: The PC generation "scornfully rejects the habits and values of the baby boomers, viewing that group as self-centred, fickle and impractical," according to Time. Fact: PCers tend to have a more nuanced take on the Boomers than OGXers do. I'm not a fan of the band Smash Mouth, but their 1997 song "Walkin' on the Sun" captures the PC generation's attitude toward "yuppies, hippies, and druggies" (as the OGXer authors of the Time essay describe Boomers):

Twenty-five years ago they spoke out and they broke out
Of recession and oppression and together they toked
And they folked out with guitars around a bonfire
Just singin' and clappin' man what the hell happened
Then some were spellbound some were hellbound
Some they fell down and some got back up and
Fought back 'gainst the melt down

This is a critical take on the habits and values of the Boomers... but it's also an admiring -- and forgiving -- one. Can we understand it as a jaundiced but un-cynical form of utopianism? Sure! OK, last time I ever quote Smash Mouth. I promise.

***

So much for PC pop culture, and our attitudes towards work and social justice. And Boomers. What about the socio-historical events that have influenced us? Here's where I try to justify the un-hip moniker that I've chosen for Americans born from 1964-73.

A 1993 New York Times story described "the postboom, pre-millennium set" as baby busters, baby boomerangs, New Lost Generation, twentysomethings, Generation X, slackers, 13ers. (All of which were actually attempts to name the cohort I've called the OGX.) The NYT writer went on to list some harsher labels -- latchkeys, technobabies, videos, cyborgs, posties, protos (for proto-adults), borders, downbeats, mall rats, nowheres, burnouts, remotes -- before settling for blanks. All very confusing.

If you ask me, these various latter terms were attempts (by frightened and resentful older Americans) to capture two unique aspects of PCers.

1) PCers were the first American generation to grow up with PERSONAL COMPUTERS.

Personal computers -- which were less powerful, and cost much less than (first-generation) business, scientific, and engineering-oriented desktop computers -- entered the market in 1977, with RadioShack's TRS-80, Commodore's PET, and Apple's Apple II, all sold for purposes of education, game play, and personal productivity use. In 1981, when the oldest PCers were turning 17, IBM introduced its PC; in '84, when the youngest PCers were turning 11, Apple introduced the Apple Macintosh. Although my family had a personal computer, I brought a typewriter to college in '86; the following year, the school's new computer lab opened, and typewriters suddenly became obsolete.

As Time would point out in a "Whoops! We were wrong!" cover story in 1997, we PCers (no longer called twentysomethings, by the perennially confused magazine, but Generation X; this error is compounded by the fact that -- this time -- Time was lumping together PCers and older members of the Net generation) weren't slackers, after all. In fact, we were "flocking to technology start-ups." During the dot-com boom of the Nineties (1994-2003), PC-savvy PCers founded Yahoo!, Google, eBay, Amazon, Razorfish, The Silicon Alley Reporter, CNET, Excite, Hotmail, theGlobe.com, Feed, Suck, Netscape, PayPal, and Tripod (full disclosure: I worked at Tripod), among other pioneering outfits. More recently, PCers have founded or developed: MySpace, Wikipedia, Gawker Media, Second Life, Blogger.com, Fark.com, plus KaZaA, Skype, Joost, others. Oh yeah, PCers also started Linux.

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June 9, 1997: Time still can't get its generations straight

Nothing is more threatening to an older, fumble-fingered technophobe than the realization that an entire generation is better than you at, say, programming VCRs, figuring out complex TV remotes and digital watches, writing software or HTML, and navigating the Internet. Not to mention launching lucrative startups that didn't actually produce anything. No wonder PCers and Netters were saddled with labels like technobabies, videos, cyborgs and remotes: That was jealousy and anxiety talking! Alas, I'm sure that PCers are now behaving in precisely the same way towards our Web 2.0-savvy juniors.

2) While in school, PCers bore the brunt of the POLITICAL CORRECTNESS controversy.

The Maoist term "politically correct" entered the public lexicon in the Seventies, when the oldest PCers were still in high school. Progressives in Cambridge and Berkeley used it to mock themselves for the extreme care they took to neither say nor do anything that might offend someone's political sensibilities. In the Eighties (1984-93), the term was used by American conservatives as part of their challenge to university curricula and teaching methods. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 signified to neocons that the End of History was at hand. In 1991, when the youngest PCers were in high school, the oldest in grad school, and the rest of us in college, President Bush used a U. Michigan commencement address to cast aspersions on a "movement" that would "declare certain topics off-limits, certain expressions off-limits, even certain gestures off-limits."

In 1991, I enrolled in a master's degree program at BU's Sociology Department. That year, one of my professors there, James Davison Hunter, published "Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America," the first book to describe and name what Hunter regarded as a dramatic polarization that had transformed US politics and culture. Society had split into two warring camps -- defined not by nominal religion, ethnicity, social class, or political affiliation, but rather by ideological world views. All of a sudden, there were only two positions that one could take on hot-button issues (abortion, gun politics, separation of church and state, privacy, homosexuality, censorship issues): "orthodox" or "progressive." It was a brave new world, and we PCers were the first to inherit it. Previous generations enjoyed spirited debates about such matters; we were told to choose one team or another. Because of PC, in the Eighties and Nineties, liberalism and conservatism alike came to seem lame, to young idealists who were no longer allowed to debate the issues; no wonder that journalists regarded us as "blank."

Do any other patterns emerge? Hmmm.

* Premature biographication. Several PCers wrote memoirs before they turned 40, or even 30. For example: Elizabeth Wurtzel, "Prozac Nation" (1994); David Bennahum ("Extra Life: Coming of Age in Cyberspace," 1998); David Eggers ("A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," 2000); Jennifer Lauck, "Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found" (2001); Jennifer Lauck, "Still Waters" (2002); Augusten Burroughs, "Running With Scissors" (2002); Stephen Glass, "The Fabulist" (2003); James Frey, "A Million Little Pieces" (2003); Dito Montiel, "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" (2003); Bo Peabody, "Lucky or Smart?" (2004); Jennifer Lauck, "Show Me the Way" (2004); Alison Smith, "Name All The Animals" (2004); Sean Wilsey ("Oh the Glory of It All," 2005); Chuck Klosterman, "Killing Yourself to Live" (2005); Elizabeth Gilbert, "Eat, Pray, Love" (2006); Susanna Sonnenberg, "Her Last Death" (2007); Shalom Auslander, "Foreskin's Lament" (2007); Dan Kennedy, "Rock On" (2008); Margaret B. Jones/Margaret Seltzer, "Love and Consequences" (2008). Plus, there's Noah Baumbach's 2005 movie, "The Squid and the Whale."

Any other patterns that you notice, readers? I mean, besides the fact that several of these memoirs turned out to be fraudulent?

***

Members of the PC generation include:

1964: Nicolas Cage, Jeff Bezos, Bridget Fonda, Laura Linney, Biz Markie, Rob Nelson, Halsey Minor, Duff McKagan, Chris Farley, Matt Dillon, Todd Field, Bret Easton Ellis, Wanda Sykes, Rob Lowe, Tracy Chapman, David Cross, Hank Azaria, Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels, Melissa Gilbert, Suzan Lori-Parks, Stephen Colbert, Lenny Kravitz, Chip Kidd, Adam Carolla, Courteney Cox, Dan Brown, Joseph Lloyd Simmons (DJ Run), Jennifer Lauck, A. Manette Ansay, Courtney Love, Chris Cornell, John Leguizamo, David Spade, Sandra Bullock, Jonathan Ames, Adam Yauch, Keanu Reeves, Janeane Garofalo, Trey Anastasio, Dana Plato, Calista Flockhart, Mark Lanegan, Don Cheadle, Teri Hatcher, Eddie Vedder. Elsewhere: Fareed Zakaria, Jane Horrocks, Juliette Binoche, Russell Crowe, Neneh Cherry, Maggie Cheung, Monica Bellucci, Clive Owen.

1965: Laura Ingraham, Slick Rick, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Diane Lane, Mike D, Tom Frank, Elizabeth Peyton, Sherilyn Fenn, Brandon Lee, Maura Tierney, Chris Rock, Dr. Dre, Andrea Bowers, Laura Albert (JT LeRoy), Michael Dell, Sarah Jessica Parker, Robert Downey Jr., Augusten Burroughs, Frank Black, KRS-One, Bill Bellamy, Jam Master Jay, Sen Dog, Linda Perry, Martin Lawrence, Michael Bay, Suge Knight, Kevin James, Krist Novoselic, Trent Reznor, MC Shan, John C. Reilly, Chris Ballew, Brooke Shields, Slash, Dennis Lehane, Charlie Sheen, Moby, Cheryl Hines, Ty Pennington, Ben Stiller, Andy Dick. Elsewhere: James Wood, Julia Ormond, Alan Cumming, Princess Stephanie of Monaco, Paul W.S. Anderson, Elizabeth Hurley, Chang-rae Lee, Julie Doucet, Bonehead, J.K. Rowling, Emmanuelle Béart, Susanna Sonnenberg, Shania Twain, A.L. Kennedy, Steve Coogan, Gavin Rossdale, Famke Janssen, Bjork.

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1966: Michael Imperioli, Rob Zombie, Patrick Dempsey, Dav Pilkey, Adam (Ad Rock) Horovitz, Cindy Crawford, Tone Loc, Grand Puba, Edie Brickell, Nick Denton, GZA, Robin Wright Penn, Luke Perry, David Filo, Stephen Baldwin, Larry Wachowski, Chris DeWolfe, Janet Jackson, Stephen Malkmus, Roxy Paine, Rachel Harrison, Julianna Margulies, Devin McKinney, J.J. Abrams, Jon Cowan, Mary Stuart Masterson, John Cusack, Jeff Dachis, Kevin Powell, Tanya Donelly, Matthew Fox, Jimmy Wales, Kristin Hersh, Halle Berry, Dimebag Darrell, Adam Sandler, Sherman Alexie, Matt Drudge, David Schwimmer, Chris Robinson, Shauna James Ahern. Elsewhere: Crazy Legs, Helena Bonham Carter, Donal Logue, Niklas Zennstrom, Shirley Manson, Salma Hayek, Sophie Marceau, Sinead O'Connor, Kiefer Sutherland.

1967: Tia Carrere, R. Kelly, Kurt Cobain, Lauren Graham, Billy Corgan, Liz Phair, Dave Navarro, Pamela Anderson, Master P, Will Ferrell, Mike Morhaime, Vin Diesel, Matt LeBlanc, Juliana Hatfield, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Jeff Tweedy, Andy Wachowski, Sasha Frere-Jones, Harry Connick Jr., Faith Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Liev Schreiber, Paul Giamatti, Matthew Barney, Scott Weiland, Julia Roberts, Joshua Glenn (yours truly), Ivan Brunetti, Lisa Bonet, Anna Nicole Smith, Judd Apatow, Roger D. Hodge, Craig Kanarick, Jamie Foxx, Chris Ware, Robert Rummel-Hudson. Elsewhere: Jhumpa Lahiri, Dave Matthews, Monica Ali, Benicio del Toro, Sven Erik Kristiansen, Noel Gallagher, Nicole Kidman.

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1968: Cuba Gooding Jr., John Singleton, Joey Lauren Adams, Heidi Julavits, LL Cool J, Lisa Marie Presley, Gary Coleman, Kool G Rap, Molly Ringwald, Brad Nowell, Moira Kelly, Lisa Loeb, Mark McGrath, James Iha, Patricia Arquette, Lisa Carver, Laylah Ali, Anthony Michael Hall, Sam Lipsyte, A. J. Jacobs, DJ Muggs, Puck, Eric Bobo, Timothy McVeigh, Roxanne Shanté, Alex Ross, D'arcy Wretzky, Steven Johnson, Traci Lords, Christopher Noxon, Tony Hawk, Kristin Chenoweth, Gillian Anderson, Charlie Sexton, Debra Messing, David Bennahum, Rachael Ray, Big Daddy Kane, Kay Hanley, Will Smith, Lydia Millet, James Caviezel, Jane Krakowski, Vanilla Ice, Parker Posey, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Owen Wilson, Jonathan Knight, Lucy Liu, Margaret Cho. Elsewhere: Andrew O'Hagan, Tommy Scott, Daniel Craig, Damon Albarn, Jerry Yang, Lucy Lawless, Celine Dion, James Parker, Sebastian Bach, Tom Hodgkinson, Kylie Minogue, Junot Diaz, Eric Bana, Mohamed Atta al Sayed, Naomi Watts, Thom Yorke, Hugh Jackman, Ziggy Marley.

1969: Spike Jonze, Christy Turlington, Rick Perlstein, Philip Rosedale, James Frey, Marilyn Manson, Jason Bateman, David Grohl, Jason Priestley, Bobby Brown, Jennifer Aniston, Chastity Bono, Donnie Wahlberg, Mariah Carey, Arthur Phillips, Paul Rudd, Sarah Vowell, Renee Zellweger, RZA, Everlast, Susan Choi, Aimee Bender, Rebecca Odes, MC Ren, Kelly Link, Ice Cube, Jennifer Lopez, Elliott Smith, Daniel Radosh, Edward Norton, Noah Baumbach, Wes Anderson, Christian Slater, Jack Black, Alison Smith, Dweezil Zappa, Kevin Corrigan, Gwen Stefani, Elizabeth Gilbert, Trey Parker, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Matthew McConaughey, Ellen Pompeo, Jay-Z. Elsewhere: Sophie Okonedo, Cate Blanchett, Edwidge Danticat, Matthew Perry, David Mitchell, Rachel Hunter, Marjane Satrapi, Pankaj Mishra, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Hari Kunzru, Julie Delpy, Linus Torvalds.

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1970: Julie Chen, Zack de la Rocha, Skeet Ulrich, Ethan Zuckerman, Samantha Power, Heather Graham, Lemony Snicket, Queen Latifah, Lara Flynn Boyle, Vince Vaughn, Dave Eggers, Rick Schroder, Redman, Nicole Sullivan, Q-Tip, Jason Lee, Uma Thurman, B-Real, Jason Calacanis, Danzy Senna, Nicole Cherubini, Tina Fey, Jordan Knight, D Nice, MF Grimm, Jamie Kennedy, Rivers Cuomo, Paul Thomas Anderson, Chris O'Donnell, Pete Rock, Phife Dawg, Tom Anderson, John Frusciante, Mix Master Mike, Beck, Kevin Smith, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Sean Wilsey, Fred Durst, Neal Pollack, Judd Winick, Dito Montiel, Shalom Auslander, Ghostface Killah, Jay Mohr, River Phoenix, Debbie Gibson, Macy Gray, Q-Tip, Bo Peabody, Bridget Moynahan, Ani DiFranco, Zoe Strauss, Kelly Ripa, Matt Damon, Kirk Cameron, Adam Goldberg, Ethan Hawke, Sarah Silverman, Treach, Jennifer Connelly, DMX, Will Oldham. Elsewhere: Minnie Driver, Naomi Klein, Louis Theroux, Naomi Campbell, Will Arnett, M. Night Shyamalan, Claudia Schiffer, Marti Cormand, Peta Wilson.

1971: Mary J. Blige, Kid Rock, Jonathan Davis, Peter Beinart, Neil Strauss, Peter Sarsgaard, Shawn Wayans, Ruth Shalit, Questlove, Mark Gerson, Lil John, Denise Richards, Sean Astin, Johnny Knoxville, Method Man, Shannen Doherty, Kara Walker, Sofia Coppola, Matt Stone, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Pete Rock, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Dame Darcy, MF Doom, Mark Wahlberg, John Hodgman, Tupac Shakur, Jarobi White, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, Marc Andreessen, Markos "Kos" Moulitsas Zuniga, Luke Wilson, Kevin Richardson, Snoop Dogg, Winona Ryder, Christina Applegate, Vendela Vida, Ryan White, Jared Leto. Elsewhere: Rachel Weisz, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany, Cory Doctorow, Matthew De Abaitua, Tom Green, Stella McCartney, Sacha Baron Cohen, Corey Haim, Ricky Martin.

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1972: Billie Joe Armstrong, Dane Cook, Jennie Garth, Evan Williams, Jonathan Chait, Stephen Glass, Jennifer Garner, Carmen Electra, Busta Rhymes, The Notorious B.I.G., Elizabeth Berkley, Xeni Jardin, Geri Halliwell, Angie Harmon, Myla Goldberg, Ben Affleck, Cameron Diaz, Chuck Klosterman, Chris Tucker, Bobby Lee, Pras, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kunkel, Ana Marie Cox, Eminem, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Tracee Ellis Ross, Josh Duhamel, Tre Cool, Lisa Kennedy Montgomery. Elsewhere: Gary Shteyngart, Jenny Berggren, Liam Gallagher, Wyclef Jean, Toni Collette, Thandie Newton, Jude Law.

1973: David Blaine, Adrien Brody, Tori Spelling, Franklin Foer, Jason Kottke, Jason Zengerle, Neil Patrick Harris, Heidi Klum, Carson Daly, Monica Lewinsky, Drew Curtis, Dave Chappelle, Howie Dorough, Larry Page, Rose McGowan, Nas, Chief Xcel, Nick Lachey, Mike Daisey, Tyra Banks. Elsewhere: Akon, Heidi Klum, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Reid, Neve Campbell, Sergey Brin, Ioan Gruffudd.

***

* What else? PCers -- get in touch! Leave a comment on this post or email me.

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10 comments so far...
  1. Enjoying the series of generation articles. I look forward to reading about my own (born 85), which at odds with your categories I've come to think of as Generation Net (a name derived from "Generation X" as well as Pepsi's "Generation Next" but you take out the x), as we are the first to grow up with the internet and not just use it in college and beyond. There's something significant about having been a web-user at age 10, the first high schoolers to write livejournals and frequent message boards, the first facebook and myspace users in our late teens, that older generations haven't known and that all generations from mine on down will experience, or at least current variations thereof.

    Posted by David January 22, 08 04:31 AM
  1. Thanks very much, David. But I'm not sure you're correct. The Web popped into existence in, I think, '93 -- when the oldest members of what I'm calling the Net Generation (I didn't come up with the term, though I may be applying it to a different cohort than whoever did come up with it) were turning 19, and the youngest 10. So they were the first to use the Web during their formative years -- and, of course, before the Web, as we old-timers can tell you, there was something called the Internet. On which were found dial-up BBS's and ISP's, among other things, and across which flowed email. My Boston-based mother earned a PhD in the late 1980s, from a school in Santa Barbara, Calif., thanks to these technological marvels. And my younger brother used the Internet to swap Grateful Dead setlists.

    However! I do think your generation was the first to take the Web for granted, and have easy access to it from home and at grade school -- and yes, Web 2.0 technologies appeared during your formative years. Which are still in progress, for the youngest Millennials (if that's the moniker I settle on; I'm not convinced yet), so it's too early for me to say anything much about who are what Millennials are! Can you help me out? Besides Web 2.0 stuff, what makes 1984-93ers tick?

    Posted by Josh Glenn January 22, 08 08:52 PM
  1. how can you say this generations music was just a bland rehash of things before? The 90s were the techno revolution - totally completely and utterly new. At the time it was extremely exciting and innovating. You didnt even mention this genre in your piece.

    Posted by map April 20, 08 02:16 PM
  1. Brooke Shields. DOB: 1965. Accomplishments: “The Blue Lagoon” Rated R, released 1980, Calvin Klein Advertising Campaign 1980
    Recognition: 1981, 1982, 1983 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Young Performer –

    More Recently for Tom Cruise controversy

    Posted by Suzy Bruce April 28, 08 12:17 PM
  1. using the internet at 10 does not lend you to take the internet for granted, as you were old enough to know a world without it. you spent the majority of elementary school (and possibly middle school) without the internet

    the true internet generation was born in about 1994 and afterwards, when by the time they were in kindergarten/first grade the internet was in full swing and more integrated in society. they will take the internet for granted.

    i dont agree with any of the demarcations the Strauss and Howe have come up with.

    Their years are far too broad, for example 1961-64 as Gen X does not make any sense.

    Gen X stops at about 1976/77.

    the X-Y generation gap is about 78-84.

    the millenial gap is between 83-86.

    IMO 1984-85 is not Millenial. it starts around 86/87

    Posted by klj June 11, 08 05:18 PM
  1. Your definition of the music of the "PC-er" generation is all wrong: It's the music a generation listens to that defines it, not the music it creates. With this definition, songs by Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince and all those great "New Wave" acts of the 80s are properly classified as "PC-er" music, even though the artists all happen to be "OGX-ers".

    Perhaps this will prove my point: By your definition, nothing by the Beatles could be counted as music of the "Boomer" generation, because all four Beatles were born before 1945.

    Posted by Andrew June 12, 08 12:27 PM
  1. I was born in 1969, squarely within the "PC generation" as you describe it, and I, for one, do not remember "growing up" with personal computers, nor do I remember any of my friends having personal computers, save one, whose father was a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania and was thus somewhat expected to have strange, scientific things around the house. When I was in college, at Wesleyan University, which I attended from 1987 - 1991, none of my friends had personal computers, and most were using electric typewriters for our papers. I finally purchased a computer in 1990, on which I wrote my thesis. We still used card catalogs and microfilm/miche at our libraries. I simply do not understand those who seem to believe that our generation was computer savvy before our late teens-early twenties. I distinctly recall that computers did not become a regular part of every day life until the early 90's, when most of us were fully into our twenties. Obviously, we got up to speed very quickly, since most of us were involved and invested in the dot com boom, but we certainly did not grow up with the luxury of having information at our fingertips, nor did we grow up with email of any kind. Unless Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wesleyan University were both in some kind of strange time warp.

    Posted by Jenny Miller Sechler October 24, 08 02:37 AM
  1. If you really want to break generations down you're going to need to break them down a lot more than you have, or a lot less. Because when you are talking about youth culture, you need to remember that the difference between a 13-year old and a 17-year old is massive, and that the same goes for a 16-year old and a 20-year old. And at the same time, you have to remember that there is serious cross generational influence (see Madonna example below). I was born in 1968, supposedly in the middle of the category you are discussing. My friends and I NEVER watched Beverly Hills 90210. We were far too old for that show when it came on the air. There is a picture in your article of four young men with ugly hair. Is that New Kids on the Block? I have to ask because nobody my age would ever have listened to them and I'm not quite sure who they are. Madonna was my hero in high school, and I remember that my brother's female friend, who was 4 years younger than me, wore Madonna lace gloves to her junior high graduation. A guy I went to college with was on the writing staff for Seinfeld (we graduated in 1991), and everyone I knew watched BOTH Seinfeld and Friends religiously. So how is Seinfeld Gen OGX and Friens Gen PC? Speaking of PC, I, too, did not use a computer until midway through college (1989) and didn't own one until 1990, except that I did play Pong and PacMan on my dad's Apple when I was younger. But those two games do not a computerized childhood make. I didn't get an e-mail account until I started graduate school in 1994.

    Posted by Jane October 27, 08 10:39 PM
  1. I was born on 12/11/1966, years before the pc was even thought of. A computer program writing class didn't become available at my high school until the second half of my senior year in 1984. During the early 1970s, I had to stop attending a all black elementary school around the corner from my house, to a all white school away in a different neighborhood by way of riding a yellow school bus. I remember watching Mr. Rogers and Capatain Kangaroo. Next year, everyone will be forced to watch television in digital instead of analog. I listened to music on a 8 track player not on a IPOD.We passed notes in class not text messages.

    Posted by MW November 22, 08 10:57 PM
  1. I was born in 1970 so I feel comfortable referring to myself as Gen X (or PCer) by anyone's definition of this generation. I'm not sure about some of your pop culture references tho. They seem a little "past my time"; I identify a bit more with those that you attribute to OGX, and I certainly do not identify with that group other than to agree with their assessment of the Boomers as self-important navel gazers who have pretty much wrecked everything.

    Also, I don't think Gen Y (or the Netters) are nearly as technologically nimble as we are. They certainly know how to use technology given that they've never known a life without it, but in my personal experience, don't seem as skilled at creating or manipulating it. Many of the Netters I encounter in the workplace seem woefully inept about such basic skills as setting up an email forward, or skinning their own MySpace pages or clearing the spyware off their machines. I don't know if this is just a lack of patience on their part to take the time to learn it, but it just seems to me that those of us in the PC generation are a simply a lot more comfortable with computers and their technological brethren than those coming up behind us. I think they are so accustomed to technology that to them it has become akin to what flipping a light switch is for most of us. They don't want to know how the computer works; they just want to use it. PCers, on the other hand, seem to have an intuitive understanding and a willingness to dive in and solve problems and create new things, whether that be a software program, a website, or whatever. We are by far the most technologically savvy generation to date.

    Posted by Erin January 12, 09 01:01 AM
 
About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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