I am part of Gen X, a generation of people born between 1965 and c. 1980, right after the Boomers. Because Gen X isn’t as big as the Boomers or the Gen Y folks who followed, we tend to get overlooked in terms of sociological studies. After reading an online article today, I now know why. The article is called “Mind the Gap: Has Gen X fallen through the cracks?” by Vivian Manning-Schaffel and it’s dated December 16, 2002.
In the article, Vivian explains that “Generation X has always been problematic. Skeptical and saddled with recessions, the members of this age group never really had a chance to embrace shameless consumerism like Gen Y.” Because we are “cynical,” “discriminating,” and don’t trust corporate America, we don’t fall for tactics designed to make us buy everything we see. And, because we don’t buy, corporate America has no reason to study us or pay attention to us. They want our cash (what little of it we may have) and we’re not accommodating them by forking it over. So, we get ignored. Or worse – stuck with bad labels, like slacker and cynical.
I ran across something that said that Gen Xers had no defining moment to rally around and that’s why we’re so hopeless. Unfortunately, I can’t find what I was reading that said this, but I made a note of a thought sparked by this idea of “no defining moment.” Gen X lived through the age of the ill-defined threat.
We saw massive lay-offs of people who had worked their entire lives at one job, only to be let go right before retirement. There went their pensions.
We dealt with the Cold War, with its potential for a nuclear holocaust. When the television movie, “The Day After,” was broadcast, there was a huge hullabaloo as parents tried to decide whether to allow their children to watch this show that was going to realistically depict what would happen after the bomb was dropped on America.
We were told that if we got a good education, decent jobs would be waiting for us upon graduation. They weren’t.
We got Nixon and Watergate.
We got the first round of high gas prices and an attempt at energy efficiency with the windows of our schools replaced with smaller ones.
We were told to reduce, reuse and recycle.
While these threats weren’t life-threatening in the end, the unease lurked in the potential. Thankfully, we also got “The Force” through Star Wars and MTV at the beginning, when it played music videos (and was the best it’s ever been, imho).