Seven Best Reasons for Generation X to Love 2012

Screw nostalgia. Do you miss the Dewey Decimal System? Didn't think so.

I’m one of those annoying people who’s prone to complaining about this modern age—despite the fact that I’m in the Cult of Apple; despite the fact that I must have every new gadget that comes to market; and despite the fact that I edit a tech-themed website that, by definition, celebrates this modern age.

But I have a nostalgic core. I remember with fondness the days before cable TV, when cultural life revolved around just a few shows, so that if you didn’t know what happened on Letterman, the following day in high school would be humilitating. I liked having only three people to trust with the news. I liked staying on the phone with my friend Abby throughout an episode of Hill Street Blues and crying when Coffey got shot.

I lament the same things other Gen Xers lament: the dissipation of face-to-face communication and the overwhelming need to process every moment for the benefit of others. And I think more kids are having sex at a younger age, which seems a shame because sex when you’re 13 really sucks. (Dan Savage should do a video series about that: “It Gets Better: What Happened Last Week in Ashley’s Bedroom Is Not the Future.”)

Putting aside the obvious benefit of medical advances, here are some smaller changes that regularly remind me I’m glad to live in 2011.

Tooth whitener. When I look at photos of my grandmother and her sisters, I can’t believe how yellow their teeth are. My teeth were headed in the same direction—what with all the cigarettes and coffee—but thank god for PlusWhite Five-Minute Speed Whitening Gel. I leave it on there for PlusaLotofMinutes until I hear my teeth start to scream. And damn if they aren’t white when I’m done.

Online research. As much as I love and believe in the value of libraries, I decidedly do not love card catalogs. As a kid hampered by a math-related learning disability, the incursion of the word “decimal” into an activity in a library—that haven of words—seemed like an affront. And it’s hard to shed tears for microfilm or microfiche (I never really understood the difference), which is like grappling with sticky flat licorice while your hands are covered in fur. Google et al. haven’t completely obviated the need for older research technologies in libraries, I know, but they have changed things enough that I can see a gaggle of children at the library and not feel like rescuing them.

Luggage with wheels. It’s hard to imagine it now, but there was a time when we carried our luggage suspended in the air —simply by virtue of the musculature in our arms. I don’t know how we did that. It seems almost obscene, and I’m glad it’s over.

“Clinical Strength” deodorant. This kind of antiperspirant is assuredly terrible for your health. It blocks your pores so aggressively, your hair stops growing; it has nowhere to go. I’ll probably get armpit cancer, but I’ll be waving goodbye with elan.

Ipex bras. I don’t know what they’re really made of, as “Ipex” is not, to my knowledge, an organic substance that Victoria’s Secret mines in South Africa. It probably is the result of some kind of evil, though, as most mass-produced products are. There are likely gnome-like slaves in Upper-Middle Tzedikolia who are being whipped and fed only fat-free cream and the occasional maraschino cherry while they craft my bras around the clock. No matter. The technology that took me from sagging, piteous cotton to stable, caressing cups is vital.

Pet microchipping. I love animal-related capitalist endeavors in general; they make me feel comfortable about spending money I don’t have. Microchipping is invaluable. Just last week a Virginia family was reunited with their dog—who’d been missing for eight years—after her microchip was scanned in California. Having my dog microchipped is going to afford this paranoid dog-owner a measure of comfort I can’t even describe—once I convince my vet that it’s necessary for a mostly indoor elderly dog.

Paperlessness. I am so paperless, I’m my own mini Greenpeace. I pay my bills online, check my statements online, deposit checks in ATMs without envelopes and just say no to receipts. I keep a calendar on my phone instead of carrying a datebook, and use Dragon to “write” notes. Though I’m sure the environmental benefits are real, I have a personal stake in our paperless society. I never learned how to properly hold a pen or pencil in school (yes, it was an expensive private school), so my handwriting is terrible. Even writing shopping lists once filled me with self-loathing and chagrin. No more!

What about you, dear readers? What are some advances for which you’re grateful? Let us know in the comments!