Gen X: No More Being Lower than Sewage

People shouldn’t confuse niceness for weakness. But they often do.

In December I wrote about how Generation X is the most hated of generations. That wasn’t just a generalization. I’ve experienced it throughout my life. It’s gotten bad enough that people now regularly treat me as if I’m lower than sewage. And a big reason for this is that I’ve been too nice. If you’re Gen X, there’s a good chance the world has treated you poorly as well. You’ll see what I mean by the time you finish this short column. And you’ll understand why I won’t tolerate it any longer.

I’ve experienced a lot of loss during the past few years. Actually, it’s close to being a decade. That’s all I’ll say about it for now. Why? Because as a Gen Xer, one of the values instilled in me was to avoid complaining. “Don’t whine. And keep in mind, everyone else has struggles too.”

In fact, I’m not sure that mentioning I’ve lost a lot is revealing too much. But even if I’m wrong, here’s how it’s connected to the way I’ve been treated.

In my youth, I was told to work hard to earn respect (something I mentioned in my original Gen X column). Part of working hard means smiling while taking a lot of garbage. Being the young guy who is treated poorly is not quite a rite of passage, but it is part of being in the real world. Or, at least it used to be.

So I smiled for years through all the dirt being kicked in my face, insults hurled my way, and everything else that comes from being low man on the totem pole. Then younger generations entered the adult world and workforce. Once that happened, I knew I wouldn’t be at the bottom rung any longer. Again, or so I thought.

I kept being nice. But I also expected some better treatment. That didn’t happen. Instead, I witnessed the world saying to me, “You need to revere the young, the downtrodden, and everyone else who is oppressed! Everyone like you does! We need to make amends for how our nation has treated them!”

Mind you, the world hated me all the more as it repeatedly gave me this lecture. In other words, while it was screeching about how, “We need to give reparations to minorities, punish our misogynistic society and put women into positions of power, listen to what our youth have to say, and welcome every illegal alien and refugee invader into this imperialistic nation!” it moved on from simply sneering with contempt at me to saying nonsense such as, “You want to be paid for doing work? How dare you make such an arrogant demand!”

Imagine having to fight with people to convince them you’re not slave labor. You can’t survive if you can’t earn money. And having a lot of people stiff me like this has contributed to a lot of my aforementioned losses. That’s why I’ve reluctantly mentioned it.

But things will change. My patience with such garbage treatment ended with 2018. Time for something different.

If you’re a Gen Xer, at least some of what I wrote probably sounds similar to your own life experiences. Perhaps not everyone will relate, but many people should.

So from 2019 forward, nice is out for me. Something…a little less nice is in. It won’t fix everything. But it will help in a world that negatively responds to civility.

It will help in a world that needs to learn it’s not okay to treat me as if I’m lower than sewage.

Header Image © Paul Hair, 2019.