I recently came across an article on social media that was getting a fair amount of attention. It talked of a news story that aired on CBS that compared generations to each other. They talked of baby boomers, millennials, post millennials, even the silent generations. However on one of their graphics during the story, they failed to include an entire generation, my generation in fact – Gen X.
Gen X consists of those born between 1965 and 1980 which according to a 2017 survey by Statista, while not as large as Baby Boomers or Millennials, still captures over 65 million people in the United States. Some of my fellow GenXers went to twitter to share their thoughts about the exclusion from the graphic. One commented “Is it too on the nose that I’m entirely indifferent to this?” Bob Caslake.
And so I got to thinking, that response just might say something about Gen X as a group. I’m not here to lament about being forgotten nor am I here to compare one generation’s superiority to another. Personally, I was happy when the next generation came along and took some attention off us. We got pretty beat up for a number of years by the Boomers with our “Work to Live, Not Live to Work” attitude. They saw us as lazy and entitled. And the reality is there will always be the next generation on deck waiting to steal the current “younger” generation’s spotlight.
But each generation has its strengths and challenges due to our upbringing, most importantly during our formidable years. As Gen X we are that quiet generation sandwiched between two strongly outspoken ones. Yet we too have a unique perspective to bring to the table.
So what can GenXers bring to the table you might ask? Let’s take a look.
Independence – We are often called the latch key generation. We were the first generation of double income parents which required us to be self-sufficient. We figured out how to get home from school and take care of ourselves until one of the parentals came home. I remember many a day sitting in front of a TV watching Transformers and eating a twinkee or two.
Patience – Not only did we live through “gasp” a life without mobile phones, much less a smart phone, we also lived with rotary phones, TV’s without remotes, no MTV, DVR, iTunes, Netflix, need I go on? Who can recall loading up a blank cassette tape in your boom box or stereo waiting, anticipating, ready to pounce the minute you heard a song come on you wanted to record? And THEN you had to remain stone cold silent the entire time or it would be ruined!
Creative – I traveled a lot as a child. We didn’t have ipads or built in screens in our cars or plane seats. We were expected to entertain ourselves with a coloring book and 4 crayons or a few matchbox cars. How times have changed! I recently took a 12” hour flight from San Diego to Tokyo. I settled in, binge watched Friends and bam, the flight was over before I knew it. No creativity required.
Adaptable – In our younger years, technology was changing faster than we could keep up. We went from having to take typewriting in high school to having a personal computer in our home. We were forced to embrace these changes or be left behind. Let’s face it, if we didn’t figure out how to program the VCR who would?
So GenX may be seen as quiet and sometimes overlooked. We are the generation that bridges the two powerhouses the CBS news story focused on. Gen Xers offer a unique perspective to give to society and even though we are often forgotten, the fact that we are okay with that I think says something about our strengths as a generation as well.