Unabashed Consumerism

I’ve been thinking for a while about how one of the key differences I see between younger generation and the GenXers is this lack of awareness of being marketed to, and a willingness to participate in consumerism.

This little boy’s YouTube channel is a great example of how a child has created a product review channel that is making big dollars and influencing toy purchasers.


I’ve always said that was the difference between GenX and the younger generations.
GenX is horrified by consumerism (even as they participate in it) but the younger gens all seem to be waiting for their moment to sell out.


Gen X knows what “selling out” is; that concept seemed to die off sometime in the 90s. See also: the astonishing lack of protest music (compare to the 60s and the 80s), indie film directors going from low-budget first features to major studio releases in one step, and so on. Mainstream is so desperate for original content they’ll rip off or snap up anything with any success at all


Yes, exactly. I doubt that there are many younger than 30 who fret about “selling out.” They seem very comfortable with being a part of the consumer machine, and not very questioning of having a role in it.

Seeing, for example, all the beauty bloggers and the younger and younger girls who are buying makeup - a lot of expensive makeup, not just drug store stuff - I personally find it surreal to see a 12 year old asking at Ulta for a specific highlighter product. But it’s very common.


I expect this is partially a side effect of social media and the internet in general, making it easier to find and disseminate information about products, and thus, to sell out.

When I was younger and wanted to find new music, or info on my various geeky and specialized interests, there were stores and magazine reviews to turn to. Those weren’t exactly free of bias any more than YouTubers who do enthusiastic always-positive “reviews” in exchange for free stuff and ad revenue.

There’s been a bit of a blowup on a message board I follow, where there was a big backlash from a few people against an enthusiastic millenial musician who did a video about a particular product, because of his “slick production” and “self promotion”; meanwhile other people, slightly older, have been shilling products for years and are well loved by the community.


I feel like the big reason this has changed is cable. I had to explain the concept of “the family hour” to my daughter, and all of the structure of the big 3 stations, plus the idea that children were supposed to be protected from advertising, and that content for children should be educational. That all went away.

Kind of ironic that the article talks about this child as being like Mr. Rogers, when his channel is everything that Mr. Rogers stood against.


I don’t think I agree with this… just to name a few, the last couple of Green Day albums, Kendrick Lamar, Run the Jewels, Prophets of Rage, lots of Gogol Bordello’s work, some of Amanda Palmer’s work… I think it’s out there, probably in about the same percentage of music as was true in “our day.”

I totally agree with this, and it’s an ongoing struggle.

I think they believe there isn’t an alternative to it, and are they that far off?

I’d also wonder if we’re not engaging in a bit of confirmation bias, as I’d suspect that most of us were more likely to be weirdos and outsiders in the first place?


Compare any of those to “Born in the USA”, though, or even “London Calling”. Or “Pride (In the Name of Love)”. All massive, massive hits across genres. I haven’t even heard of the three names in the middle of your list, and I know my mum at the same age would have known all the songs I just mentioned – and she listens nearly exclusively to 1960s music.


A bunch of this is older tho, not GenX, but also not what the kids are listening to now either.
Maybe more for the Oregon Trail generation? That microslice that came between GenX and Millenials.

Shush, you have purple and teal hair! Oh wait, no thats me. :stuck_out_tongue:


Most students I deal with have a very carefully curated online persona.
Because they KNOW how important it is to appear to be a “good” person. (Actually BEING a good person is a whole 'nother story).

Its freaky.
Some of our students are actual social media influencers with 10’s of thousands of followers. Its spooky as shit.


I find it a little hard not to bristle at the very topic. My husband is right on the Gen X/Millennial edge (37), and I’m solidly Millennial (30). I think the biggest difference between Gen X and Millennials is that my friends will see class/race/gender first, and my husband’s friends will fight me on whether or not those are ever relevant. I also think Millennials are a lot more aware that we’re being sold to, and more likely to feel like we can game that system. But most of that is just being broke.

Honestly, it’s hard to even talk to Gen Xers a lot of the time because I came of age during a massive recession and, for my age, I’m far behind where most of them “were” at my age in terms of home ownership and debt repayment. Particularly white GenX men can be very hard to relate to.

What are the equivalents of those songs, in terms of sales, though? Sales of albums are much lower than they were in the 80s. I don’t know anyone my own age who actually listens to the radio. Is there a digital service that doesn’t offer much choice, but has that sort of reach?

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That’s interesting. There was a big recession when I got out of college, so I feel pretty simpatico with that. A lot of my friends stayed in school to get Masters because they felt like it would be better to stay in school during a bad economy and have a grad degree once the economy rebounded. I temped for about a year, then my aunt helped me get a crappy admin assistant job. Then after about a year of that, I got a crappy tech writing job that actually was really awesome and launched my whole career, but paid so badly. I’m grateful now for all the skillz it gave me. Was worth making nothing to learn all I did there.


I mean, isn’t Kendrick Lamar leading in the grammys?

And of course, not everyone understood Born in the USA as a protest song (although it was). Plus, there was tons of much less socially aware music out at the time, too.

Our music landscape is much more scattered and fractured now, as more people get their music online as opposed to from MTV or top 40 radio.

Really? You’re missing out!

Prophets of Rage (Chuck D with members of Rage against the Machine):

Gogol Bordello:

I’d say they are all either Gen X or millennials in age - Green Day is, but it’s clear they’re appealing to a current audience too. Kendrick Lamar is millennial/post-millennial, RTJ are our age, but only started putting albums as RTJ in 2010 or so (with Killer Mike’s work going back to the Dungeon family stuff in the late 90s/early aughts. Prophets of rage, Gen X, and Gogol Bordellos millennial (or tail end Gen X).

I have purple hair, too, you know! :wink:

There is this, but I think many Gen Xers were also hit hard by the recession. We both got screwed over by the Boomers, if you ask me. And if Gen Xers can come off as kind of pissy, it’s in part because we’ve sort of gotten written out of the story as of late. For the past few years there has been talk about the boomers and the millennials, because of the size of the cohorts, and it’s like Gen X has disappeared off the face of the earth.

It’s weird how this whole story of generational conflict has played out, but if you think about it, all four generations (Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials - and yes, I think probably we should include the post-millennials entering college now, Gen Z or whatever they’re going to be called) have far more in common than they have to clash over, intergenrationally…

I think I have more to say on this issue, but I need to go pick up my post-millennial from school! More later, I’m sure!

This is a great conversation, BTW! it’s nice to be able to disagree on issues and not have people take it personally!


Merely being Gen X doesn’t guarantee anything; as a woman of color, and just in general, I’m ‘far behind’ anyone’s idealistic expectations of home ownership and debt repayment…

I’ve long since been part of the working poor, and the prospects for ‘upward mobility’ are mighty slim…


This point always confuses me, because I came of age during a recession and high youth unemployment, and I’m Gen X. I mean, that’s what the novel Gen X is all about – not being able to get ahead because the boomers are taking up all the space. It took me 7 years after graduation to get a full-time job, and that opportunity was because someone died suddenly.

Sure, there were kids with rich parents who stepped right into good jobs – but they were hardly typical.


And now we are getting laid off, or jobs are ‘moving’ etc. Because they can hire kids out of college for 1/3 of what we cost.


My point wasn’t to start some generational war but I, personally have found a lot of YouTube content very strange. When I first started learning about unboxing videos, or watching makeup videos which really feature the products, or candy unwrapping videos, I thought it was strange that YouTubers had taken on the job of selling other people’s products for them, not for money, but as entertainment.


Those promotions we’ve been working and waiting all our adult lives are being eliminated as every damn company moves towards a “flat” hierarchy… FML

And the teens I talk to actually think I’m a boomer… like, dudes, I’m 45, I’m GenX, not a boomer!

“You’re a boomer! You like the Beach Boys right?”

A) Fuck you, b) Pet Sounds is one of the best albums of all time but thats besides the point!


Ah, see, this is where you’re wrong, it is for money!
They make a lot of money shilling weird shit on YouTube.


Jesus these numbers are amazing…
And I only know half of these people… (GraveyardGirl is awesome, love her!)