Fumes and Leftovers

Evidently our little project to reclaim Generation Y from the Madison Avenue Boomer memory hole is gaining some traction in the wild.

Fumes and Leftovers1

Millennials do not remember the pre-internet, pre-9/11 world. By and large, they celebrate the cultural apocalypse of Clown World as the first generation to be fully indoctrinated at school to believe that tradition is bad.

Ys, in stark contrast, mourn the murdered traditions, families, countries, and world.

Fumes and Leftovers 2

And whereas Millennials' generational vice is extractive self-centeredness, Gen Y copes with their grief by retreating into an inner world of nostalgia and neglecting harsh reality.

Fumes and Leftovers 3

Boomers got the whole buffet. Jonesers got dessert. Xers got the last dry, rubbery chicken breasts. Ys got fumes and leftovers.

Critics of my generational theory have objected that it's a self-indulgent attempt to arbitrarily separate younger Xers and older Millennials from two generations they don't like. The result, they accuse, is a generation which conveniently happens to be "better" than the preceding and succeeding cohorts.

Nobody who's read my posts honestly would reach that conclusion. I've never argued that Gen Y is somehow superior to Gen X or the Millennials. In one key way, Ys are demonstrably worse. It is malignant Gen Y nostalgia that drives the hollowed out Hollywood franchises and helps spread Pop Cult agitprop worldwide.

Break the nostalgia cycle. Support creators who tell exciting new stories that put entertainment first!


  1. I'm way harder on Gen Y than Millennials. I don't know why I always get that line.

    The generation transition is real. No generation younger than Millennials have any nostalgia for Big Brand X, for example. None of them have any warm fuzzies for Hollywood, the old paper publishing companies, or TV networks. Those claiming it will just even out when Boomers die are kidding themselves.

    Gen Y is going to be the generation hit hardest when all that disappears, and that isn't a brag. It's just the truth.

    1. People who say, "You're just snowflakes who resent being Millennials!" are just betraying their own hatred of Millennials.

      Ys don't hate Millennials. To the extent we emerge from our bubbles to notice them, we're baffled by them.

    2. I figured we get the charge for seperating out from the X's and Millenials because the Millenials and Boomers are different kinds of narcissism...so they get annoyed if you even remotely imply being different as different could mean better. As for the X's, they are cynical, and get annoyed that you won't join them in watching the world burn.

      Frankly there is nothing positive about being the Turtle Generation. We have 4-6 sorry-arsed generations in the West.

    3. Mama Boomer has two kids: one bipolar and one narcissistic like her.

  2. Each generation has it's own cross to bear, it's own foibles, and it's own vices to overcome. No one has a reason to go after that splinter until their own redwood deck is fixed. But, sometimes ... oh, you Boomer! ;-)

    Brian, your generational theory has resolved more questions in my office than you can probably believe. We have had many lunch discussions over why some younger employees aren't matching up to Millennial attitudes, and why some previously-labeled Boomers don't feel right in that category. Turns out we have Jones, GenX, and GenY, no Boomers, and no Mils in my office -- and the descriptions of your categories tend to match better with their experiences. Only an n = 35 to 40, and non-scientific polling, but incidental data is good at the start of a paradigm shift.

    1. Thanks for the corroborating anecdotal data from the field! You've cut to the heart of why I espoused the 10-year generation model: It explains what we observe better than the 20-year model.

      Just taking a shot in the dark, the Ys in your office tend to exhibit a mix of introversion, low self-motivation, and high conscientiousness relative to their co-workers.

    2. Ys in Office: for about 70%, yes. But the rest are extroverted and highly self-motivated. The one in my section worked three jobs after college, rock climbs and camps with his wife, and could be a stand-up comic. Just shows the categories aren't the individual. But, good correlation.

    3. Fascinating. Thanks for the info!

  3. It's interesting. As a millennial, I basically need to accept that I'm on my own for my future, probably won't be able to retire, and will have to spend my life pinching pennies.

    I wonder if this has anything to do with the enormously high rate of mental illness among millennials as well as our disgust for capitalism.

    A millennial's mental state comes down to accepting this fact of our lives. I have, but the frequent posts about "adulting", "destigmatizing" mental illness, and black "humor" about how terrible our lives are, well...

    It's clear that a great many millennials haven't been able to adjust to their status quo.

    And being blamed for our issues by the boomers who caused it and refuse to help doesn't help matters.

  4. If you want to see Gen Y (and I am one) in full nostalgia sperg mode, check the reactions to the end of Ready Player One when the movie came out. I can get behind a guy trying to save a labor of love from a guy trying to turn it into...an EA property. That plotline is aimed right at my generation, but look at how many people engaged in backlash against the protagonist's decision to force a video game Sabbath on everyone by shutting it down on Tuesday. It was "He now has money and a girlfriend. How dare he tell everyone else that they need to actually live in the real world one day a week. What if their lives suck and video games are their only escape?"

    As in, "How dare you try to motivate me to meet real people and try to actually improve my life when I'm perfectly content to spend all my waking hours plugged into a fantasy world!"

    Introversion. Nostalgia. Lack of self-motivation. A.K.A. the vices I, as a Y, have struggled with since at least high school.

    1. The most Gen Y thing I've ever seen was that Eric Butts guy crying over the Big Brand Episode IX trailer in his hotel room alone while his fiance was out at the spa.

      Watching him shrink into an infant at mere sound effects is a massive skin-crawl moment.

  5. Being 45 years old, I think I am solidly Gen X. And usually, these generational talks go over my head. Or I should say, they don't really make a blip on my radar. I'm not very philosophical or what people think of as a deep thinker. But the other day at work, I was talking to a couple of rookies and another officer at lunch.

    The rookies are 23 years old and the younger officer is 29.

    It didn't hit me until just then, talking about the Internet and trying to explain the old AOL modem sound and the 'You've got mail' notification, how different the memories and experiences are. And how close the gradations between the generations are.

    The rookies didn't really remember 9/11. The remember something happened but it hardly impacted their 4 year old lives. The 29 year old did remember it. And of course, I was 26.

    The 23 year old can't conceive of life without cellphones. The 29 year old at least remembers when they were rare.

    One thing both groups share is a tendency to get emotional that boggles my mind. I was at the tale end of the 'Men don't cry' generation. I remember my hippy music teacher making us watch the old 'Free to be You and Me' movie when I was 8, where Rosey Grier ( a large former defensive tackle from the NFL) sang 'Its alright to cry'. And us boys, were like, "what is this sh!t?!"

    I knew how my dad would react to that crap...

    They think I'm old and curmudgeonly and hilarious because I get so disgusted with male tears.*

    *Unless a close family member or dog dies. Then its acceptable. My grandfather's generation would dispute that though.

    1. Another great anecdote!

      Generations exist on a spectrum, and there are of course variations among individuals, but by age you're dealing with an early and a late Millennial. Both exhibit pretty definitive Millennial life experiences and outlooks.

      Re: male tears - I concur with you and would add only profound religious experience as a third acceptable instance. A common trend I've noticed in my editing work is younger writers' tendency to have male characters cry at the drop of a hat. Among the writing lessons I give most frequently is, "A female character can cry three times over the course of a novel. A male character can cry once."