Douglas Coupland's Generation X Neo-logisms
Ever since reading Generation X for the first time a few years ago, I've often wished I could have a quick reference to all the great little neo-logisms printed in the margins of the pages. So finally I sat down and put them all in alphabetical order with page number references... and here it is. Btw, I'm sure this violates some sort of copyright laws, but I won't tell anyone if you won't.
101-ism: (page 85)
The tendency to pick apart, often in minute detail, all aspects of life using half-understood pop psychology as a tool.
2 + 2 = 5-ism: (page 139)
Caving in to a target marketing strategy aimed at oneself after holding out for a long period of time. "Oh, all right, I'll buy
your stupid cola. Now just leave me alone."
Air Family: (page 111)
Describes the false sense of community experienced among coworkers in an office environment.
Anti-Sabbatical: (page 35)
A job take with the sole intention of staying only for a limited period of time (often one year). The intention is usually to raise enough funds to partake in another, more personally meaningful activity such as watercolor sketching in Crete o
r designing computer knit sweaters in Hong Kong. Employers are rarely informed of intention.
Anti-Victim Device (AVD): (page 114)
A small fashion accessory worn on an otherwise conservative outfit which announces to the world that one still has a spark of individuality burning inside: 1940s retro ties and earrings (on men), feminist buttons, noserings (women), and th e now almost completely extinct teeny weeny "rattail" haircut (both sexes).
Architectural Indigestion: (page 75)
The almost obsessive need to live in a 'cool' architectural environment. Frequent related objects of fetish include framed black-and-white art photography (Diane Arbus is a favorite); simplistic pine furniture; matte black high-tech items such
as TVs, stereos, and telephones; low-wattage ambient lighting; a lamp, chair, or table that alludes to the 1950s; cut flowers with complex name.
Armanism: (page 82)
After Giorgio Armani: an obsession with mimicking the seamless and (more importantly) controlled ethos of Italian culture.
Like Japanese Minimalism, Armanism reflects a profound inner need for control.
Bambification: (page 48)
The mental conversion of flesh and blood living creatures into cartoon creatures possessing bourgeois Judeo-Christian
attitudes and morals.
Black Dens: (page 135)
Where Black Holes live; often unheated warehouses with Day-Glo spray paint, mutilated mannequins, Elvis references, dozens of overflowing ashtrays, broken mirror sculptures,
and Velvet Underground music playing in background.
Black Holes: (page 135)
An X generation subgroup best known for their possession of almost entirely black wardrobes.
Bleeding Ponytail: (page 21)
An elderly sold-out baby boomer who for hippie or pre-sellout days.
Boomer Envy: (page 21)
Envy of material wealth and long-range material security accrued by older members of the baby boom generation by virtue of
Bradyism: (page 134)
A multisibling sensibility derived from having grown up in large families. A rarity n those born after approximately 1965, symptoms of Bradyism include a facility for mind games, emotional withdrawal in situations of overcrowding, and
a deeply felt need for well-defined personal space.
Brazilification: (page 11)
The widening gulf between the rich and the poor and the accompanying disappearance of the middle classes.
Bread and Circuits: (page 80)
The electronic era tendency to view party politics as corny -- no longer relevant or meaningful or useful to modern societal issues, and in may cases dangerous.
Café Minimalism: (page 107)
To espouse a philosophy of minimalism without actually putting into practice any of its tenets.
Celebrity Schadenfreude: (page 70)
Lurid thrills derived from talking about celebrity deaths.
The secret belief that technology is more of a
menace than a boon.
The need of one generation to see the generation
following it as deficient so as to bolster its own collective ego:
"Kids today do nothing. They're so apathetic. We used to go out
and protest. All they do is shop and
The process that decides in-office attitudes and
Conspicuous Minimalism: (page 107)
A life-style tactic similar to
Substitution. The nonownership of goods
flaunted as a token of moral and intellectual
Conversational slumming: (page
The self conscious enjoyment of a given conversation precisely for its lack of intellectual rigor. A major spin-off activity of Recreational Slumming.
Cult of Aloneness:
The need for autonomy at all costs, usually at
the expense of long-term relationships. Often brought about by overly high
expectations of others.
In clothing: the indiscriminate combination of
two or more items from various decades to create a personal mood:
Sheila = Mary Quant earrings (1960s) + cork wedgie platform shoes
(1970s) + black leather jacket (1950s and 1980s).
A life-style tactic; the refusal to go out on
any sort of emotional limb so as to avoid mockery from peers. Derision
Preemption is the main goal of Knee-Jerk Irony.
Diseases for Kisses
(Hyperkarma): (page 48)
deeply rooted belief that punishment will somehow always be far greater
than the crime: ozone holes for littering.
A form of Safety Net-ism, the belief that if
marriage doesn't work out, then there is no problem because partners can
simply seek a divorce.
Dorian Graying: (page
The unwillingness to gracefully allow one's body to
show the signs of aging.
The tendency of parent to move to smaller,
guest-room-free houses after their children have moved away so as to avoid
children aged 20 to 30 who have boomeranged home.
The tendency when looking at objects to
guesstimate the amount of time they will take to eventually decompose:
"Ski boots are the worst. Solid plastic. They'll be around till
the sun goes supernova."
Earth Tones: (page
A youthful subgroup interested in vegetarianism,
tie-dyed outfits, mild recreational drugs, and good stereo equipment.
Earnest, frequently lacking in humor.
Migration toward lower-tech, lower-information
environments containing lessened emphasis on
Emotional Ketchup Burst: (page 21)
The Bottling up opinions and emotions
inside oneself so that they explosively burst forth all at once, shocking
and confusing employers and friends -- most of whom thought things were
The Emperor's New Mall: (page 71)
The popular notion that shopping malls
exist on the insides only and have no exterior. The suspension of visual
belief engendered by this notion allows shoppers to pretend that the
large, cement blocks thrust into their environment do not, in
The tendency of young people to live in emotionally
demonstrative, more unrestrained ethnic neighborhoods: "You
wouldn't understand it there, mother -- they hug where I live
Expatriate Solipsism: (page 172)
When arriving in a foreign travel
destination one had hoped was undiscovered, only to find many people just
like oneself; the peeved refusal to talk to said people because they had
ruined one's elitist travel fantasy.
The attitude that no activity is worth pursuing
unless one can become very famous pursuing it. Fame-Induced
Apathy mimics laziness, but its roots are much
Green Division: (page
To know the difference between envy and
Historical Overdosing: (page 8)
To live in a period of time when too much
seems to happen. Major symptoms include addiction to newspapers, magazines
and TV news broadcasts.
The act of visiting locations such as diners,
smokestack industrial sites, rural villages -- locations where time has
been frozen many years back -- so as to experience relief when one returns
back to "the present."
Historical Underdosing: (page 7)
To live in a period of time when nothing
seems to happen. Major symptoms include addiction to newspapers, magazines
and TV news broadcasts.
Homeowner Envy: (page
Feelings of jealousy generated by the young and the
disenfranchised when faced with gruesome housing
Jack-and-Jill Party: (page 143)
A Squire tradition; baby
showers to which both men and women friends are invited as opposed to only
women. Doubled purchasing power of bisexual attendance brings
gift values up to Eisenhower-era standards.
Minimalism: (page 75)
The most frequently offered interior design aesthetic used by rootless career-hopping young people.
Irony: (page 150)
The tendency to make flippant ironic comments as a reflexive matter of course in everyday conversation.
To force a body of people to have memories that
do not actually possess: "How can I be a part of the 1960s
generation when I don't even remember any of
A philosophy whereby one reconciles oneself with
diminishing expectations of material wealth: "I've given up
wanting to make a killing or be a bigshot. I just want to find happiness
and maybe open up a little roadside cafe in Idaho."
McJob: (page 5)
A low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low-benefit, no-future job in the service sector. Frequently considered a satisfying career choice by people who have never held one.
Me-ism: (page 126)
A search by an individual, in the absence of training or traditional religious tenets, to formulate a personally tailored religion by himself. Most frequently a mishmash of reincarnation, personal dialogue with a nebulously defined god figure, naturalism, and karmic eye-for-eye attitudes.
Mental Ground Zero:
The location where one visualizes oneself during
the dropping of the atomic bomb; frequently, a shopping
An inability to perceive
Mid-Twenties Breakdown: (page 27)
A period of mental collapse occurring in
one's twenties, often caused by an inability to function outside of school
or structured environments coupled with a realization of one's aloneness
in the world. Often marks the induction into the ritual of pharmaceutical
Musical Hairsplitting: (page 85)
The act of classifying music and
musicians into pathologically picayune categories: "The Vienna
Franks are a good example of urban white acid folk revivalism crossed with
Native Aping: (page
Pretending to be a native when visiting a foreign
Now Denial: (page
To tell oneself that the only time worth living in is
the past and that the only time that may ever be interesting again is the
Nutritional Slumming: (page
Food whose enjoyment stems not from flavor but from a complex mixture of class connotations, nostalgia signals, and packaging semiotics: "Katie and I bought this tub of Multi-Whip instead of real whip cream because thought petroleum d istillate whip topping seemed like the sort of food that air force wives stationed in Pensacola back in the early sixties would feed their husband to celebrate a career promotion."
The practice of peppering daily life with obscure
references (forgotten films, dead TV stars, unpopular book, defunct
countries, etc.) as a subliminal means of showcasing one's education and
one's wish to disassociate from the world of mass
Occupational Slumming: (page
Taking a job beneath one's skills or education level as a means of retreat from adult responsibilities and/or avoiding possible failure in one's true occupation.
The inclusion of advertising, packaging, and
entertainment jargon from earlier eras in everyday speech for ironic
and/or comic effect: "Kathleen's Favorite dead Celebrity party
was tons o' fun" or "Dave really think
s of himself as a zany, nutty, wacky, and madcap guy, doesn't
The tendency, when given unlimited choices, to
Overcompensating for fears about the future by
plunging headlong into a job or life-style seemingly unrelated to one's
previous interests; i.e., Amway sales, aerobics, the Republican Party, a
career in law, cults, McJobs....
The inability of one's job to live up to one's
Paper Rabies: (page 127)
Hypersensitivity to littering.
Personal Tabu: (page
A small rule for living, bordering on superstition,
that allows one to cope with everyday life in the absence of cultural or
A price paid for becoming a couple; previously
amusing human beings become boring: "Thanks for inviting us, but
Noreen and I are going to look at flatware catalogs tonight. Afterward
we're going to watch the travel
A nonsexual friendship with a member of the
Poor Buoyancy: (page
The realization that one was a better person when one had less money.
Hypochondria derived from not having medical
Poverty Jet Set: (page 6)
A group of people given to chronic traveling at the expense of long-term job stability or a permanent residence. Tend to have doomed and extremely expensive phone call relationships with people names Serge or Ilyana. Tend to discuss frequent-flyer programs at parties.
Financial paranoia instilled in offspring by
Power Mist: (page
The tendency of hierarchies in office environments to
be diffuse and preclude crisp articulation.
Pull-the-Plug, Slice the Pie: (page 137)
A fantasy in which an offspring
mentally tallies up the net worth of his parents.
QFD: (page 120)
Quelle fucking drag. "Jamie got stuck in the Rome airport for thirty-six hours and it was, like, QFD."
QFM: (page 120)
Quelle fashion mistake. "It was really QFM. I mean, painter pants? That's 1979 beyond belief."
Rebellion Postponement: (page 106)
The tendency in one's youth to avoid
traditionally youthful activities and artistic experiences in order to
obtain serious career goals. Sometimes results in the mourning for lost
youth at about age thirty, followed by silly haircuts and joke-
Slumming: (page 113)
The practice of participating in recreational activities of a class one perceives as lower than one's own: "Karen! Donald! Let's go bowling tonight! An don't worry about shoes... apparently you can rent them."
Leaving one job to take another that pays less but
places one back on the learning curve.
Net-ism: (page 34)
belief that there will always be a financial and emotional safety net to
buffer life's hurts. Usually parents.
Sick Building Migration: (page 24)
The tendency of younger workers to leave
or avoid jobs in unhealthy office environments or workplaces affected by
Sick Building Syndrome.
A fascination with extreme
Squires: (page 135)
The most common X generation subgroup and the only subgroup given to breeding. Squires exist almost exclusively in couples and are recognizable by their frantic attempts to recreate a semblance of Eisenhower-era plenitude and their daily lives in the face of exorbitant housing prices and two-job life-styles. Squires tend to be continually exhausted from voraciously acquisitive pursuit of furniture and knickknacks.
Discomfort inflicted upon young people by old people
who see no irony in their gestures. Karen died a thousand deaths as
her father made a big show of tasting a recently manufactured bottle of
wine before allowing it to be poured as the family sat in Steak Hut.
Substitution: (page 54)
Using an object with intellectual or fashionable cachet to substitute for an object that is merely pricey: "Brian, you left your copy of Camus in your brother's BMW."
Strangelove Reproduction: (page 135)
Having children to make up for the fact
that one no longer believes in the future.
The fear that if one is successful, then one's
personal needs will be forgotten and one will no longer have one's
childish needs catered to.
The tendency to visualize oneself enjoying being
the last person on earth. "I'd take a helicopter up and throw
microwave ovens down on the Taco Bell."
Tele-Parablizing: (page 120)
Morals used in everyday life that derive from TV sitcom plots: "That's just like the episode where Jan lost her glasses."
A condition common to people of transient
middle-class upbringings. Unable to feel rooted in any one environment,
the move continually in hopes of finding an idealized sense of community
in the next location.
Ultra Short Term Nostalgia: (page 96)
Homesickness for the extremely recent
past: "God, things seemed so much better in the world last
The tendency to almost invariably side with the
underdog in a given situation. The consumer expression of the this trait
is the purchasing of less successful, "sad," or failing
products: "I know these Vienna franks are heart failure in a
stick, but they were so sad looking up against all the other yuppie food
items that I just had to buy them."
Vaccinated Time Travel: (page 11)
To fantasize about traveling backward in
time, but only with proper vaccinations.
Small, cramped office workstations built of
fabric-covered disassemblable wall partitions and inhabited by junior
staff members. Named for the pre-slaughter cubicles used by the cattle
Virgin Runway: (page
A travel destination chosen in the hopes that no one
else has ever chosen it.
Voter's Block: (page
The attempt, however futile, to register dissent with
the current political system by simply not voting.
An X generation subgroup that believes
the myth of a yuppie life-style being both satisfying and viable. Tend to
be high in debt, involved in some form of substance abuse, and show a
willingness to talk about Armageddon after three dr