Let’s be honest, this Wuhan Flu thing now sweeping the world is exactly the kind of drastically awful event all of us in Gen X knew was coming. Though we aren’t quite as gloomy as the concerned boomers or confused millennials think we are. Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana could get a little dark — end of the world as we know it type stuff.
So we are uniquely, if oddly prepared for just this kind of crisis. We know that since we started becoming adults, we haven’t exactly exhibited a ton of leadership in the world. That kind of thing takes a lot of effort and, ultimately, I mean, who cares, right? But now in the time of coronavirus, we are ready to give back. Here are some Gen X tips to make your pandemic experience as pleasant as possible.
When I say ignore it, I mean, take all the prescribed health advice from officials, but after that, stop thinking about it. One of the basic tenets of Gen X is, “We really don’t matter much anyway.” We came home as kids to empty houses opened with latchkeys, a television set, and a granola bar — the only things that cared about us. We got the message. So after washing you hands for 20 seconds, just go about your day knowing how little control you actually have over the world.
Maybe Smoke a Little Less
Coronavirus is a respiratory illness, so it stands to reason that smoking a few less butts can maybe give you a little advantage. Say to yourself, “Do I really need this cigarette?” Your answer will be yes, but you know, a couple times dip some snus instead.
Organize Your Music
Whether you have digital music or CDs, or you’re a pretentious record person, nothing soothes the soul and spends a few hours of quarantine like organizing your music. And there’s all kinds of ways to do it. Straight alphabetical, alphabetical by genre, by mood, in order of Library of Congress numbers — the world is your oyster, and you’ll listen to that Depeche Mode album again just in time for illness and misery.
Pretend to Re-Read Infinite Jest
You faked it the first time, so why not do it again? In the age of social media, pretending to read “Infinite Jest” is easy and fun. Back in the late 1990s, you had to actually go someplace to drop your knowledge of the book cribbed from magazine reviews. Now you can just tweet, “Taking the time at home to re-read ‘Infinite Jest.’ I forgot how severe the cockroach imagery is.” There’s just no reason not to do it.
Play Axis and Allies with Yourself
Remember the thrill of staying up until 4 a.m. in a beer-soaked dorm room ripping bong hits and playing Axis and Allies with your friends? Well, you can’t have any friends over, but that shouldn’t stop you from having a thrilling evening commanding the armies of World War II. You just have to play all the armies. You can even put your thumb on the scale for the USA! For bong-ripping protocols see: “Maybe Smoke a Little Less.”
Gen X has been social distancing since the Nixon administration. It’s good the rest of you are coming to see its advantages. Millennials pay $10,000 a month to sleep on bunk beds in San Francisco and share communal space. The happiest day of every Gen Xer’s life was the one where they didn’t have to have any roommates anymore.
Make Detailed Plans You Don’t Remotely Follow Up On
Something Gen Xers understand is that if you think about doing something for long enough, it is the rough equivalent of actually doing it. It’s like, once you’ve already thought something through, you know how it ends. You’ve played past it. So make some mental lists, and then just see what happens.
The basic message behind the Gen X approach to Wuhan Flu is for God’s sake be chill. Be sarcastic, engage in gallows humor, have some fun. Death hangs over us all the time. Sure, a global pandemic of a deadly virus puts it in a little sharper focus, but it doesn’t really change the basic dynamic.
Gen Xers are sometimes accused of being a tad aloof, and it’s true. We do believe we are vastly better than the rest of you in almost every way, but aloofness can be a good thing. Being aloof by its very nature gives you some distance, lets you look at things from a broader perspective. So don’t freak out, people. Take it from Gen X, everything will be fine, or it won’t, but it doesn’t really matter much anyway.