While exchanging comments on Millennials (see comments on post below), Valerie gave an assessment of the preceding generation:
Gen X didn't so much become cynical but was cynical from the get go. One can hypothesize as why, but I can see a few things: Nixon, the effects of Vietnam on their Dads and Uncles, Jimmy Carter telling us to put a sweater on, Ronald Reagan, the 1980 Olympic Boycott, Mortgage rates in the double digits, the Cold War, recession, the space shuttle blowing up before our eyes (at school, no less!) No wonder we are the Generation that invented grunge.This inspired me to look into what has been said about us.
The first reported use of “Generation X” was in a 1952 issue of
While Coupland was clear that he meant to reflect the diversity of this age group, “Generation X” as with any other appellation has ossified to describe a segment of society. In reporting about Gen X at the workplace, Deloitte includes Americans born between 1961 and 1981 who experienced key societal trends. It was a period marked by the highest divorce and abortion rates; the highest dual incomes; and the most permissive parenting habits. It was also one of the most blatantly anti-child phases in history - children were deemed intrusive obstacles to their parents' self-exploration and were for the most part, left unsupervised.
A related report claims that Gen X-ers come from single-parent or blended families; were “latchkey kids”; experienced increasingly flexible gender roles; and feel overshadowed by—and alienated from—the huge Baby Boomer generation. They also sensed a breakdown of authority.
Undoubtedly, the MTV generation (a.k.a. Gen X) survived pretty tumultuous times. They witnessed Glasnost, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the
As such Gen X-ers are described as skeptical, pragmatic, adaptable, self reliant, informal, and technoliterate. They also tend to uphold diversity and think globally. They seek balance between work, family and play.
Now one has to be careful about generalizations (as few pointed out on the Millennials post). I know of Gen X-ers who come from solid families, whose parents are not divorced and were not consumed by the self-centeredness of the eighties and nineties. While these individuals were buffeted by the turbulence of the eighties and early nineties, their families and communities provided safe and nurturing spaces.
We cannot choose or control many things, such as families into which we are born and the times in which we grow up. We are molded by our background and influenced by past experiences. However, we do have a choice about how we think and act in the present. And ultimately about who we want to be.