FACED with a future plagued by AIDS, environmental destruction and political uncertainty, Hong Kong's twentysomethings say they have every reason to feel hopeless and indifferent. Even with the kind of opportunities never dreamed of by their parents, they remain disenchanted and disaffected. They have a pessimistic view of life and see no point in planning for a future. Their parents complain they are apathetic, that they don't care, that they just sit around whingeing, playing computer games and listening to trashy Canto-pop. These are the Hong Kong equivalent of ''Generation X'' - a term coined by Canadian author Douglas Coupland to describe a disaffected generation of twentysomethings in the West. Whatever they are, they are a group with which marketing men have been quick to identify. The local entertainment industry was the first to capitalise with a film called Twenty Something. It made $10 million in less than a month when screened in May. The soundtrack of Reality Bites, an American movie about a group of twentysomethings, has also been a chart topper in the territory. The film, which flopped in the US, drew young crowds in Britain and Australia, although director Ben Stiller said it was not an attempt to define the Generation X. The film has yet to be released here. It's a market that the fashion, music, marketing and advertising industries are expected to tap, with official statistics showing Hong Kong has never had so many people in their 20s. According to the Census and Statistics Department population projections the 20 to 25 age group peaked at 444,400 last year. This year it is estimated at 444,200. It will start to drop next year to 439,800 and by the year 2011 is estimated to be at 357,000. But is Generation X just another media creation and advertising gimmick? Commercial Radio DJs Jan Lamb and Eric Kot, both 27, who are known as the Soft and Hard Core Kids, are sceptical. ''There have been young people with this sort of attitude throughout the ages but there wasn't a term called Generation X,'' said Kot, whose audience is comprised of locals mainly in their teens and 20s. ''Also, this so-called Generation X has this grey view of the world and of people that is not something that young people or the media should glorify,'' he said. ''Besides, it's always difficult to put people into different categories, that is discrimination.'' So what is it really like to be a 20 in Hong Kong these days? ''I think, what it means to be me or my generation is not about being happy or not anymore,'' said Miriam, a 20-year-old university student. ''The point is I'm only trying not to be completely heart-broken.'' Raymond, 22, a Hong Kong University graduate, holds an equally cynical view: ''The disturbing relationship with families makes me feel lonely. Our generation is difficult to comprehend, you never know what a twentysomething is searching for, or what's in his mind.'' But Teddy Chen, director and researcher of the movie Twenty Something, says the young generation knows exactly what it wants: fast cars, fast sex and fast money. ''Because of the uncertain future, the twentysomethings want to enjoy life now,'' he said. ''They are hedonists, they work very hard during the day, earn as much money as possible and then spend it all during the night. They don't have long-term plans or true relationships with other people, they have no time for all that.'' Chen said one of his reasons for making the film was that he saw the twentysomethings as very different from his own generation: ''I'm a 30-something and there is this big difference between us and the 20-somethings in terms of thinking. ''We belong to a hopeful generation, we plan for the future even though some of us did not have the opportunities young people have today, but now we are settled. ''The twentysomethings are better educated and they have the money. But times have changed and the cost of living has soared. They will never be able to achieve our dream. ''And because they know there is no point in planning ahead, both men and women have adopted this 'I don't care' attitude.'' Lynn, 21, blames her generation's apathy on society. ''What I don't like is that everybody is so indifferent and cool,'' she said. ''I want to serve the community, but I don't think I have any supporters, so I myself become as indifferent as them.'' This ''don't care'' mentality has permeated all aspects of their life - even sex. Like her Generation X counterparts in the West who think commitment is a nightmare, Lynn, a final-year university student, thinks sex before marriage is ''no big deal''. ''We are just mutually using each other's [bodies], women using men, men using women,'' she said. ''Of course I am scared of AIDS, but I think it is something you cannot stay away from.'' Miriam, who says she lost her virginity at 16, is equally frank and liberal when discussing what has always been regarded as taboo in Chinese society. ''I've slept with about 14 guys,'' she said. ''I've never thought of getting AIDS, just like you never think of getting cancer.'' ''When you cannot find warmth and love in the family, you want to find it out there,'' Raymond said. ''My family has been a source of distress for me since I was a child. I get sick and tired of their [parents] fights.'' Lynn, whose parents are not on speaking terms, displays similar cynicism as many Western Generation X-ers about marriage. ''You should expect a divorce on the day you get married,'' she said. Antonio, a 21-year-old third-year university student who says he comes from a happy family, is equally cynical. ''Marriage is like a show for others, but it doesn't make a difference in a relationship,'' he said. ''Divorce is more like a financial opportunity nowadays.'' Teenagers down the years have felt that their parents didn't understand them and that's certainly the case with Hong Kong's twentysomethings. Lynn, who says her parents seem to be out of touch with what her generation has to face, sums it up: ''The older generation thinks most of us are studying in universities, have a lot of money to spend and so should be happy. But they don't understand the reality.'' While 22-year-old graduate Michael said: ''The two generations seem to be standing on two floating docks, at a distance, able to see each other but unable to pull the two together.'' But although twentysomethings abroad and in Hong Kong apparently share the same thinking and disaffected attitudes, questions remain as to whether we have a Generation X here. Simon Kwan, chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Marketing, said the territory had not adopted the term but young people in their 20s comprised a generation for whom special marketing strategies were needed. ''People in their 20s really have money to burn because they work and they don't idle around,'' he said. ''Also, because they can't afford to buy any property these days, they have more money to spend on other goods. ''They definitely have more money to spend than their Western counterparts.'' Fashion designer William Tang also sensed the twentysomethings were a potential market for his clothes. But he had no idea what a Generation X should look like. Tang wants to develop an entirely different fashion style for this population, especially for the male youngsters, as he feels this particular group lacks any fashion statement. And composer Eddie Chiu, Cable Channel YMC (Youth Music Culture) manager, said the local music scene for young people was dominated by Canto-pop. Only a small audience wanted to hear songs about social injustice and politics. ''Those who like listening to groups like Nirvana [typical Generation X music] are in the minority,'' he said. Film director Chen also has doubts, though Hong Kong's Generation X population was still relatively small compared with the Generation X population elsewhere, he warned that the cynical mentality of this group of educated young people was unhealthy. ''I just hope this minority will not grow in size,'' he said.