Before there were m illennials, there were slackers. Many of us Gen-Xers, who came to what should have been adulthood in the 1990s, would, roughly speaking, have spent some period of time pursuing, if that’s not too active a word for it, the slacker lifestyle. It wasn’t hard to be a slacker. You just needed a soupçon of apathy, a certain disaffection with the expectations people might have had of you, and a talent for chilling. I would think I was definitely some form of slacker for the first half of the 1990s.

ut there was one theory about slackers , the bungee-cord theory, that suggested that slacking eventually caused an equal and opposite reaction. So the theory was you fell down and down into slackerhood, but at some point, you hit the bottom and then suddenly you sprang back into activity, with loads of momentum. I think that possibly happened to me. I plumbed the depths of doing nothing, going right down into the void, and somehow then, some kind of Catholic guilt or something kicked in and I got busy.

Initially I was as surprised as anyone else by this sudden-onset industriousness. But I went with it, figuring it was a temporary bounce, and that some kind of equilibrium would re-establish itself at some point. But it didn’t. I amazed myself, and all those people who had called me lazy down the years, by continuing to be a productive human being, if you can call the kind of random things I have done with my life productive.