Generation Catalano all the way, baby!
The past few days have been packed with news stories obsessing over numbers. Our planet’s population reached seven billion people. Kim Kardashian’s marriage lasted 72 days. Today’s 11/1/11, which, according to the Huffington Post is a binary day, something that won’t come around again until January 1, 2100.
Everyone wants to categorize their time, somehow, some way. Clinging to a generational identity is one of the easiest ways to do this. Noreen Malone in New York Magazine, Doree Shafrir in Slate and The Washington Post’s Monica Hesse have all been talking ‘bout their generations--and others--as we add up our marriages' shelf lives, our place in the world’s population, the Haley’s Comet math of a day’s unique date. Indeed, our endless search for our personal and cultural chronology through claiming our generations has also dominated the media’s liveliest discussions over the past couple of days, as well.
Like lots of people who read that news story about the seven billionth baby, I plugged my birthday into the UN Population Fund’s calculator, to find out my place in time. I thought about sharing it on this blog post but then I remembered that on Facebook, I don’t reveal the year I was born for fear that it will somehow jeopardize the security of my online identity.
Ironically, my online identity is already at risk, I suppose, as it is suspended in a shape-shifting state of past, present and future ... a weird cultural/generational/puzzle-piece limbo of old high school friends, college folks, former and current colleagues, mentors, grandparents. Facebook has strung us all neatly together like beads on a necklace, hop scotching time and space and circumstance. Sometimes it seems so comfortably, chummily nostalgic, like too many of us are forgetting our transgressions and betrayals, reinventing relationships and rewriting histories. And it goes beyond social media stuff to the real-time world at large: there is no longer a golden age number for retirement in this uncertain economy, college grads are crashing out at their parents' houses for years on end, your 30s are your new 20s, particularly if you succumb to the bad luck of a "starter marriage."
I think tonight, I will simply hold on to the first thought I had when I realized today’s date was five ones, lined up together in a neat, numerical, symmetrical row: Do we get to make a wish? And dance it out to "What Is Love" by revisiting the "World Happiness Dance" episode on My So-Called Life, via YouTube.