They say that a woman over 50 is invisible. In fact, this French writer just fully admits it.
I've experienced it myself. Literally. I've had people walk into me as if I wasn't standing there. And yes, it started right around my late 40s. My female friends tell me the same thing happens to them. It's a disconcerting phenomena to experience.
But hey, thanks to CBS News, you guys can see what it's like to be invisible too. The whole damn Generation X disappeared from view, from context and most importantly in this scenario, from electoral concern.
I've suspected for a while, based on the reporting and focus on polls, that the mainstream media has just glided from being concerned with Boomers to Millennials.
We've gone from the "Me Generation" to the "Selfie Generation" and ignore all us slackers in between.
But is it a wise choice? GenXers like myself are truly sandwiched between caring for our aging Boomer parents (the ones who made us a latchkey generation to begin with) and supporting our Millennial kids who don't think the American Dream is even attainable for them. They finish school with ten times more debt than my parents' first mortgage, thus ensuring that we'll be caring for them for a much longer time too. It would behoove the media (and Washington) to remember our critical part in society:
Given the acquiescence of millennials to the all-online world, Gen X has a formidable responsibility to keep faith with reality. They are the last analog generation. Raised in a pre-revolutionary moment technologically, they are children of books, handshakes, body language and eye contact. They learned — even if they didn’t always appreciate them — the virtues of patience, self-control and delayed gratification. They knew what it meant to be out of contact with someone they loved. Some of them — too few — learned how to fix an engine or wire a light fixture. Most remember how quiet things used to be, how easy it was to be alone.
The brick-and-mortar world has virtues; chief among them is the human contact it enables. What does someone who remembers what it was like to browse the racks of a used-record store say to someone who has never heard a vinyl LP played through stereo speakers? How do you convince someone who’s never called a girl’s house and asked her parents if she was available to come to the phone that it actually took guts to do this, and that it was something to be proud of, something to remember — especially if she said yes? She would go see a movie with you and, yes, you could call her again to talk (not text). It was an entirely different experience from typing “Hey, Wr U at? Let’s conX” and waiting impatiently for a reply.
Gen X is a bridge between the analog culture of the mid-20th century and the digital culture of the early 21st.
And never has the media needed to understand that bridge more. And maybe it's time for us to be louder to force the powers that be to pay more attention.
So what can Gen X do to help save America? It can begin by reasserting the relevance of the flesh-and- blood world that formed it. On an individual level, this means putting the iPhone down, turning off the computer and taking a book out of the library or visiting a museum. It means talking to your friends face-to-face more instead of mostly texting or emailing them. On a societal level, it means pushing back against those who blithely accept that technology can be the solution to all our social and political problems. It means adopting a healthy skepticism of millennials’ efforts to disrupt every industry with technology and an ethos of “sharing.” It means fighting for your privacy.
If Gen X doesn’t get its act together — and fast — it will have the rug pulled out from under it just as it’s on the verge of realizing its potential. That would be a shame, for a society that desperately needs a counterbalance to the millennial rush to a digital world.
Some say that, in America, everything works out in the end. These optimists put their full faith in the American system — representative democracy, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, free markets, free minds, liberty and justice for all; or, alternatively, in the arrival of a political Superman to put us back on course. Sometimes, though, no Superman can be found, and an entire generation of Americans must step into the breach. It’s happened before.