Or, how I was silenced as a Middle Aged Gen X.
At the moment we have some technicians out the front of our house working upon setting up the new 5G tower which, after a lot of research on the negatives of such a structure, isn’t so bad.
What they are also doing is playing music very loudly, singing very very badly and dropping the F bomb at full volume over and over even though there are young children on school vacation in earshot. My husband and I are both teachers so we are also at home during the Easter vacation, hoping to enjoy some peace and quiet. You know, catch up on some Netflix series we couldn’t watch during term, do some student marking or lesson preparation and listen to some music of our choosing, not the 70s to 90s greatest pop hits with the less than musical accompaniment.
Here’s the thing, I want to complain. I want to go out and ask them if they could keep it down but I won’t, I can’t, because if I do I know that I will end up on some meme somewhere as a Karen and the international social media community will decry my wanting to be able to listen to music or watch my television in my own home without having to crank the volume up to pain threshold just to hear it.
They’ll call me a ‘Boomer’ and say that I am a product of a generation who got everything.
Ha ha… No…
I’m Gen X and we got nothing. When I left school there was over 25% youth unemployment and when I walked up the steps of my university course fliers were being handed out by the Student Union informing us that if we were doing teaching don’t bother because there’s no jobs. University during this era was called the ‘great parking lot of life’ because no one knew what to do with us and so we were warehoused while we racked up incredible amounts of student debt because the government, after having received their own free university education thanks to Whitlam, decided that we should pay for ours.
So, I dropped out until the need arose when they realised the Boomers were nearing retirement and they might need some replacements. I still had to pay for it, but at least I could earn enough to pay it off quickly (10 years).
While I was waiting for the Boomers in Charge to decided they needed me I worked. There were no full-time jobs for my age group so I worked 3 part-time gigs at one stage just trying to get enough money to survive while friends of mine resorted to smoking so much dope just trying to numb the feeling of self-disappointment at not reaching their much touted ‘potential’ that they can barely even remember their 20s.
We didn’t buy homes because mortgage rates were 19% and without full time employment, no self-respecting bank would have loaned us the money. So, we rented dives for decades because we were scared we’d be trapped in a high interest tomb that we would need multiple jobs to pay and eek out some semblance of half-life. My husband and I didn’t buy our first home until I was 38 and he was 39 and some of my friends, now in their 50s, still haven’t purchased homes, instead deciding the pay to educate their kids to ensure that at least their children will have a better go at adulting than they did.
My generation delayed getting married and having kids because we didn’t have the security of homes or employment and the government, consisting of white male Boomers, panicked because ‘who would look after them in their old age’ if we didn’t produce the children to help fund the tax income needed for their pensions and old age care. So, they threw money at us; baby grants to encourage our breeding so that they could be provided for in their dotage.
How generous! Then, after telling us to have 3 children (one for mum, one for dad and one for the government) they told women to return to the workforce for the good of the nation; but childcare became so prohibitively expensive that it was barely worth the effort to get the extra pay check and, in some cases, the cost of childcare exceeded the money that the extra job earned. Some of us even dared to ask our parents to help care for our children while we worked to the great disdain of the rest of the nation, while others of us were told by our parents, “no one helped us” so why should they help us.
No. I’m not a Boomer. I am a Gen X, the generation that had little support, little hope and no heroes thanks to the sheer ubiquity of the Boomers.
After all of that, surely I have a right to voice my discontent with situations that affect me directly. This isn’t about mask wearing or lockdown, this is about being disregarded by society, again. I write this, all the while knowing that I won’t say anything because I don’t like being ‘Karened’ for expressing an opinion even though it is another ‘right’ I’m being denied that generations before me enjoyed simply because I’m a Gen X.
Thank you for hearing my rant. I acknowledge that my experience is nothing compared to those of my POC and First Nation’s sisters, but sometimes, I just need to go all ‘Karen’. The technicians out the front would thank you for your sacrifice if they knew, I am sure.