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Pop Culture

Cruel meme about time has Gen X feeling 'dazed and confused'

Uh, there's no way this math is right. Right? [Grabs calculator.]

Photo (left) by Oskars Sylwan on Unsplash, Photo (right) by Taylor Flowe on Unsplash

The difference between 1976 and 1993 felt like ages.

The "forgotten generation" has hit peak mid-life crisis time, as Gen Xers find themselves careening through their 40s and 50s. And like presumably every generation before them, they're reeling a bit, asking, "How did I get here already?" as they pluck gray hairs out of weird places, send kids off to college and obsessively check their retirement accounts.

And now a meme that hits right at the heart of that crisis has Gen Xers feeling even more dazed. One might even say…confused.

In cruel bit of calculation, X user @AZNotoriousJPG shared a screenshot image from the cult classic "Dazed and Confused" with this caption:


"Dazed and Confused came out in 1993 and was based in 1976. A comparable movie today would be based in 2007."

Wait, what? No. NO. That can't be right. That math isn't mathing. Where's the calculator?

[Frantically calculates this very basic subtraction problem four times because there's no way.]

It's right. How? How is this possible? The '70s felt like they were ages from the 90s, while 2007 was only like three years ago. Right?

First of all, I'm wrong. 2007 was 17 years ago—that's basically an entire generation ago. (I know, I have to let that one sit for a minute.) But secondly, it seems like there was much more of a cultural difference between the 1970s and the 1990s than there was between the 2020s and the 2000s.

But why? In some ways, the 2000s feel like they've all been one long decade, at least in terms of "feel." The 1960s, '70s, '80s and '90s each felt like they had a distinct feel in terms of style and culture. We can pinpoint fashions, slang, musical genres and what was popular during those decades. Can the same be said for the 2000s and the 2010s?

Maybe it can. Facebook came out in 2004 and the iPhone came out in 2007, so I'm sure that changed things significantly. Social media and smartphones? That's huge. Is it just because we're (gulp) so old now that Gen Xers can't differentiate between recent decades? Are we just so out of touch with young fashions and hip culture that we don't even see it?

Honestly? Yeah, probably. I've heard my teens say something along the lines of, "That's giving, like, early 2000s" when referring to a song or a fashion choice. I guess I should be happy that I'm "with it" enough to know what "giving" means, but I'd never be able to tell you how something from the early 2000s is any different than something from two years ago.

Gen Xers have not taken kindly to having this timeline change thrown in their faces:

"Oh!! This hurts!!"

"Lies."

"I was having a good day. We were all having a good day."

"I get, we’re old!!! Quit reminding us!"

"All I see from this is that I am old AF."

"That doesn’t make any sense. 2007 was last week. I have medicine in the closet which expired earlier than that. Not possible."

"Nope, that’s not okay."

"You didn't have to choose violence, yet here we are."

You can tell the Gen Xers from the millennials and Gen Zers in the comments because the younger folks just keep commenting with "Superbad," a coming-of-age comedy that came out in 2007. What they don't understand is it's not the number of years that hits hard with this meme, it's the vast difference between how 17 years felt between the 70s and 90s and how they feel in the 2000s.

You have to have lived it to get it, I suppose, but "Dazed and Confused" in 1993 felt more like a movie made now based in the '80s would feel. Think "Stranger Things." That's what the time difference felt like for us.

Time is weird, man. But even 30 years later (wait, what?) "Dazed and Confused" is still a fabulous film, and Gen X is still the coolest generation.

The battle between millennials and older generations isn't exactly a generational war—it's more a case of mistaken generational identity. A decade ago, whining about millennials being young adults unprepared to make their way in the world at least made sense mathematically. But when people bag on millennials now they end up looking rather foolish.

A marketing researcher with a doctorate in social psychology wrote an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune titled "Post-pandemic, some millennials finally decide to start #adulting." And when the Tribune shared it to Twitter, their since-deleted tweet read, "Writer Jennifer Rosner predicts COVID-10 lockdowns will force easy-breezy millennials to grow up."

Hoo boy.

Interestingly, the writer of the op-ed is a millennial herself, but she repeats generalizations about her entire generation that seem like they mainly apply to her own social circle. Read it yourself to decide, but regardless, the tweet of the op-ed itself set off a firestorm of responses from millennials who are tired of being painted as irresponsible young people who don't know how to "adult" instead of what they actually are.


First of all, the oldest millennials are turning 40 this year The youngest are 25—either well out of college or well into grad school. And yet, they've been thought of as the youngest adults for the past 10-15 years, even as they've aged into full-on adulthood.

The struggle of millennials is not that they don't know how to be adults. It's that the financial reality of the world in which they came of age made it much harder to get established than previous generations, with two recessions, stagnant wages, rising costs of living, and crippling debt from skyrocketing tuition costs.


Nonetheless, most millennials are 30-somethings who are in the midst of careers, paying mortgages, raising kids, and other extremely adult things. And they're doing it with less security and stability on a basic level than previous generations experienced. They are resilient because they have to be. They are resourceful because they have no choice.

What they, as a generation, are not? Easy breezy.

A good chunk of the parents who have had to figure out childcare for their young kids during a pandemic or learn on the fly how to help their children with virtual school while also managing their own careers from home? Millennials.

Seriously, the oldest millennials were early in their career years when the 2008 recession hit, and the youngest millennials are at that stage now, during this pandemic recession. Those lucky middle-millennials may have had an easier time finding a job—maybe—but they're still dealing with wages that haven't kept up with costs of living increases while trying to getting their families started.

Oh yeah, and they're inheriting a crescendoing global climate crisis to boot. Easy breezy!

The responses were swift and fierce.

And some of them were simply, wryly hilarious.







Every generation has its share of struggles and every generation thinks the generation before and after it is somehow flawed, but it's those generalizations themselves that are the biggest problem. Sure, there are generational differences born of changes in the world, social pendulum swings, and reactions to our own upbringings, but to blame a generation for circumstances they can't control is pretty crappy and to lump them all together as lazy or entitled or "easy breezy" is as inaccurate as it is rude.

I'm not a millennial—solidly Gen X here—but the millennials I know are great people. Leave them alone unless you've got a solution to the challenges they're facing beyond "stop buying avocado toast" and "save up money from your underpaid job for a house you can't afford." And for the love of all that is good and holy, stop talking about them like they're doe-eyed college students. Time to give them the full respect we give all "real" adults. They've definitely earned it.

Patrick Buck/Unsplash

"Our sires' age was worse than our grandsires'. We, their sons, are more
worthless than they; so in our turn we shall give the world a progeny yet more
corrupt."
- Horace in Book III of Odes, 20 BC

"Never has youth been exposed to such dangers of both perversion and arrest as in our own land and day. Increasing urban life with its temptations, prematurities, sedentary occupations, and passive stimuli just when an active life is most needed, early emancipation and a lessening sense for both duty and discipline, the haste to know and do all befitting man's estate before its time, the mad rush for sudden wealth and the reckless fashions set by its gilded youth--all these lack some of the regulatives they still have in older lands with more conservative conditions." - Psychologist Granville Stanley Hall in The Psychology of Adolescence, 1904

The "kids these days" trope has been around forever. We have documentation for centuries of aging generations complaining that the young people are simply the worst. They have no respect. They've lost all sense of discipline. They're impetuous and impulsive, self-absorbed and self-indulgent. Millennials, millennials, blah blah blah.


RELATED: I swapped out 'millennials' in headlines for something better. It made a huge difference.

But a new series of studies confirms what many of us have always suspected: The kids are alright. At least, they're not objectively any worse than previous generations of young people. Rather, the ones responsible for the supposed downfall of "kids these days" are adults who lack self-awareness about how they apply their biased standards to young people.

In a paper published in Science Advances in October 2019, John Protzko and Jonathan W. Schooler from University of California, Santa Barbara examined five studies to determine what causes the "kids these days" phenomenon. They found that American adults tend to believe that today's youth are in decline in three traits—respect, intelligence, and an affinity for reading. But rather than objective truths, those perceptions are mostly due to adults applying their own mature standards on young people, in addition to bias for the traits in which they themselves currently excel.

The researchers wrote about their findings:

"Authoritarian people especially think youth are less respectful of their elders, intelligent people especially think youth are less intelligent, and well-read people especially think youth enjoy reading less. These beliefs are not predicted by irrelevant traits. Two mechanisms contribute to humanity's perennial tendency to denigrate kids: a person-specific tendency to notice the limitations of others where one excels and a memory bias projecting one's current qualities onto the youth of the past. When observing current children, we compare our biased memory to the present and a decline appears. This may explain why the kids these days effect has been happening for millennia."

So basically, older folks tend to be oblivious about how unfair and inaccurate their assessments of young people can be. Shocker, right?

RELATED: Condom snorting? Eating Tide Pods? Don't believe the viral hype around teen trends.

Each generation has unique qualities and characteristics honed by the time and environment in which they live. But young people behaving like young people and old folks behaving like old folks is the same in every age. Young people have always tended to push boundaries and old people have always looked back at their youth through a lens of rose-tinted nostalgia. Young people have always been immature as a group (hello, that what being young means) and older people have always forgotten what it was like to be young.

Objectively, though, kids these days have some impressive qualities—they tend to care about social and environmental causes and many are actively engaged in civil and political discourse. According to the CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, teens smoke less, drink less, get pregnant less, get into fights less, and generally make less trouble than my own generation did. Some studies show that young people are taking longer to grow up and start doing "adult" things, but at the same time, they have closer bonds with their parents than previous generations. They struggle with increasing rates of mental health struggles and suicide, but are also working hard to break the stigma on such things.

Lighten up, gramps. The kids are alright.

Perhaps if we give young people the benefit of the doubt and some grace to figure out their place in the world, we can put an end to the "kids these days" cycle—or at least offer a better example of self-awareness than previous generations of curmudgeony old folks have.

You know the Gerber baby, right?

She's an American icon. And if you've ever wandered down the baby food aisle of the grocery store or checked out the pantry of a new parent, you've definitely seen her adorable face peering at you from the label of a tiny jar.

That baby was 91 years old in the early part of 2018. Her name is Ann Turner Cook, and aside from being a teacher and writer of mysteries, she's now the great-grandmother of six.


The photo above was snapped by Chris Colin, a San Francisco-based writer who also happens to be Cook's grandson.

His tweets have recently gone viral for one special picture that's brought two Gerber babies together across multiple generations.

That's right — the OG Gerber baby and the newest Gerber baby just met.

In 2018, Lucas Warren became the latest Gerber spokesbaby, beating out every one of his 140,000 contenders. Warren's not just a pretty face, though; he's also a trailblazer. He's the first baby with Down syndrome to win the contest, bringing some much needed representation to the brand.

Recently, Warren and his parents visited Cook at her home in Florida. According to eyewitnesses (read: the people who were there literally melting into puddles of goo), they were fast friends.

"As soon as we walked into the room, she and Lucas immediately bonded," Warren's parents told People. "Lucas walked right up to her, flashing his signature smile and waving, and we could tell he loved her right away." He also shared his cookies which, if you know babies, says a lot.

Of course, the two also had an obligation to their public, so of course they stopped to take one of the most adorable pictures I have ever seen.

The photo's adorable. And Lucas Warren's new status as the Gerber baby is historic.

One of Gerber's missions is making it clear that every baby is a Gerber baby. Warren being picked as this year's spokesbaby is a step in showing the world that all babies (and, by extension, all people) should be accepted for who they are.

Approximately 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome every year in the United States. Warren's parents want his win to be a symbol of hope to the families of children born with the condition or any other disability.

"We're hoping this will impact everyone — that it will shed a little bit of light on the special needs community and help more individuals with special needs be accepted and not limited," Warren's father told "Today" shortly after the 1-year-old won. "They have the potential to change the world, just like everybody else."

Note: We weren't paid by Gerber for this story — we'd tell you if we were — we just think it's a neat bit of history paving the way for the future.