Lean 30: 12 – A Gen X Message From the Past

Pamela Chan, BCFamily.ca/Editorial

Lean 30 : 30 days of keeping it lean and old school online. More

Recently the CBC did a series of pieces on the job prospects for young adults as we dig ourselves out of the most recent economic recession.  It was satisfying to see that they mentioned the higher rate of youth unemployment in the previous two recessions in the early 90s and early 80s.

The down payments required to buy a property didn’t officially become 5% until 1999. Interest rates were also higher at the time and it was harder to get a credit card.  Even with a job, I was declined a card because my rent ($650 in a shared apartment before other expenses) was considered to be too high in relation to my salary.  I could buy a house in Ottawa at the time for the cost of a bachelor suite near where I was living.  The combination of the recession, high young adult unemployment and the McJobs I could access resulted in a lackluster scene for professional opportunities.  I was fortunate enough to gain employment in an international non-governmental organization but I could see that my future job prospects there were severely limited.

In the mid 90s I escaped the grim job market and cost of living in Vancouver and moved back to the Tokyo area, where I had lived when I was in high school and university.  Tokyo is also a very expensive city but my salary and benefits was much higher.

During that time I wrote a Christmas letter to my friends. Reading it now, it seems to me to be striking for its frankness.  None of my family and friends were writing such revealing pieces at the time.  The letter stands as a piece of social history outlining the experiences of a late 20 something, single female trying to make her way in a large metropolis.  We heard so little about non-Boomer Gen Xers at the time in the media and we still don’t.  It all comes down to demographics and the size of the boomer cohort and their offspring.  My birth year, for example, had the lowest birthrate in the whole century! My letter reminded me of the lives of young adults before it was fashionable to talk about young adults in the main stream media.

Cue up 2014 and it could be argued that if I had been able too share that information in a blog post, I might have connected with people around the world who could understand my situation. If I could have shared about my experiences while using Facebook, would my reaction to my challenges have morphed into “misery Monday” status updates or vague posts”? This type of social media content was popular in the early days of Facebook when people didn’t self edit what they wrote as much. Would I look back on those blog posts and updates and think “ouch – over sharing much?”.

In the span of time that has passed between then and now I realize that for me, when it comes to difficult challenges, the closer my circle of sharing is the better.  Nowadays I edit what I share to a broader “audience”. My Facebook profile is 30% complete and I refuse to give up the goods to the Facebook database.  I check the public view regularly and monitor the shared articles viewable to strangers who can access my profile.  Just recently I had to resort to “unfriending” someone who rarely uses Facebook and whose account was set up by someone else.  Effectively that person and the person’s circle had access to my profile page.  I don’t expect to ever receive a “friends request” from this circle or connect with them on social media, yet they have full access to my profile.  What the heck? I wasn’t cool with that.

Privacy and what people know about me is much more important to me now than when I was in my 20s.  It may seem guarded and not very “authentic” of me but I’m much less frank and open now.

That is until you meet with me face-to-face over tea at regular intervals.  Then the communicating really starts.

How about you? What decisions are you making about how, when and where you share information about yourself?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *