A Midlife Report for the Media Generation

As I write this, I am sitting in the Four Seasons car wash, waiting for our mini van to be cleaned, and thinking about what a wild ride it has been so far.

Eleven days from now will mark the fortieth year since I was born in Hendrick Medical Center, only a short drive away from here. My mother had been trying to have children for countless months (years?) before I arrived, but all of her previous pregnancies had ended in miscarriages. She would not have another natural born child for another twelve years but, thankfully, she and dad adopted two beautiful newborn girls along the way, so I had some company during the intervening years.

The whole mid-life thing has been a bit of a surprise to me, emotionally speaking. I’ve never been one to invest much in age or birthdays or other events in the life cycle that most people use to mark change. I think I hit thirty without even batting an eye.

But this one is hitting me a little odd. I’m actually feeling older (well, at least, I’m feeling not-younger) and I’m starting to sense that I’m a little more life-worn than I thought I was a few months ago. Its not that I’m ready to turn in my CD collection and X-Box for a set of Frank Sinatra albums and a box of dominos. And I’m not yet thinking about investing in a condo in Del Boca Vista. Its just the sudden thought that “Hey, I’ve lived a good chunk of my life, now. What can I say about where the journey has taken me at this stage? Are there things I wish had worked out differently? What’s worked out well?”

Born in 1964, I actually qualify – in terms of the measurement of birth rates – to stake a claim in the baby boom generation, but as Howe and Strauss, my favorite generational sociologists, have pointed out: there are reasons to believe that by ’64, Generation X had already arrived.

I came to think of myself as an X-er during my mid-twenties. It has to do with a lot of things: values, music, resistance to stereotypes, experiences in my family of origin. But, more than anything else, it was because I had a strong sense that, during my youth, I had found my way into the “media generation” – that first generation of Americans which came to derive its identity and its values thorough media (be it film, music, television, or interactive entertainment) more than from more traditional institutions.

So, for the benefit of those who will follow for the next twenty years or so, I thought it would be helpful for me to chronicle, through a series of blog entries, how things look from the midlife point for a member of the media generation.

Right now the plan is to discuss the influences of TV and film, music, family, faith. Then, a little about what the future may hold.

Stay tuned.

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