Look, we have heard all the jokes. We know how you talk about us. And now you are saying there might never be a Gen-X President (as if Donald Trump did some sort of credit to his generation in that role).
The thing is, WE DON’T CARE. You know this about us. Because we get it, and you likely don’t.
We have been described as some kind of neglected middle child between boomers and the Millennials, but we are not your mother’s Jan Brady (or our own, frankly). We were the first generation to experience a high volume of moms working outside the home, divorced parents and friends coming safely out of the closet. We were the last generation to have a technology free childhood and to learn patience waiting for Saturday morning cartoons or a favorite song to come on the radio.
We were the first generation to write papers on computers and the last generation to use typewriters. We were the last generation to know a time when a missed call was a missed call and the first generation to play video games. We were the last generation who spent a largely unsupervised childhood on dangerous playground equipment.
We were the first generation to grow up with the diversity of Sesame Street, the lessons in community from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and the brilliant bonkers of Electric Company.
We GET IT.
Our unique positioning in history gave us a perspective that some of you are still struggling to understand—and this spans ALL generations, not just those older than us. Because some of you who are younger than we are just don’t get what it was like BEFORE we came along and some of you who are older than us refuse to process new information, So let me break this down for you—we did a LOT of heavy lifting so you all didn’t have to.
And we’re exhausted.
You know that statistic that people love to quote (even if it is no longer true?) You know, the one about 50% of marriages ending in divorce? Yeah, well—that was OUR parents. So we “got” that marriage was a social construct and not a holy mandate WAY before the rest of you.
The first openly gay TV character appeared during our childhoods. Ditto for the first openly gay elected official. AIDS was first detected as we were entering our adolescence and sexual awakening years–we were the first generation to become sexually active with this specter over our heads.
“Roots” was first aired during our childhoods. We were the generation that grew up watching “The Jeffersons”, “What’s Happening”, “Good Times” and “Sanford and Son”. We were the first kids who grew up in a country with civil rights laws.
We were the first generation to grow up back when Roe v. Wade was the law of the land. Not that we took it for granted; we marched (yes, I personally) in D.C. in 1989 in what was at the time one of the largest political rallies in U.S. history..
We were the first generation that grew up knowing Mom could bring home the bacon.
We were the MTV Generation; our teenage years were flooded with images of gender fluid icons like Bowie, Boy George, Grace Jones and Prince.
We were the first generation that saw men and women enrolled in college in equal numbers.
We were the first generation to be taught about environmental sustainability from a young age – that’s recycling and land management to global warming. We are the generation MOST likely to consider sustainability factors when investing.
WE. GET. IT.
Our childhoods featured the end of the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal, Three Mile Island meltdown, the Jonestown massacre, and Iranian hostage crisis. We waited in the backseat of the car for hours just to get gas.
Our teenage years saw the Challenger disaster, Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
As young adults, we were in the cross hairs of Operation Desert Storm.
When 9/11 happened, we were most of the boots on the ground. We were many of the victims.
We were the last generation to graduate from high school before the escalation of school shootings began and the first generation to send our children into schools with this threat hanging over us as the norm.
Trickle Down Economics (the other big lie) destroyed the middle class before we even had our sea legs underneath us. We are the first American generation who have not improved on our parent’s financial situation because wages stagnated while inflation skyrocketed. We were the last generation to get an affordable college education.
Gen-X broke new ground in music (RIP Kurt Cobain and Tupac Shakur), comedy (Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Tina Fey, Jon Stewart, Mindy Kaling), innovation (Elon Musk, Sergey Brin & Larry Page, ), athletics (Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, Venus and Serena Williams), journalism (Julian Assange, Anderson Cooper), film and TV (Joss Whedon, Kevin Williamson, JJ Abrams, Wes Anderson) and where would we be without John Cusack, Julia Roberts, Robert Downey Jr, Christian Bale, Will Smith, Ryan Gosling, Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman, Drew Barrymore and literally 100s of others of what will most likely be the final generation of true Hollywood stars.
And the children we have raised are groundbreakers–rejecting gender stereotypes, patriarchal rule and systemic discrimination in very loud voices. They GET that race, gender and even heterosexuality are social constructs.
We raised them this way because WE GET IT.
And while you were making those “you want fries with that?” jokes about us, we were quietly living up to one of the anthems of our youth: Everybody Wants to Rule the World.
We did it so quietly, you never even noticed. We barely noticed ourselves. Because we were just being who we are.
If you doubt any of what I am saying here, you can just Google it. Thanks to Gen X.
And now we can unapologetically say–YOU’RE WELCOME.
And if you don’t know why, it’s just because you don’t get it.
This Post is republished on Medium.
Photo credit: iStock
What a great post. I think I might actually be a ‘boomer’ rather than Gen X, but I so appreciate the sentiments of this. I remember telling an angry woke 20-something who called me and all my generation bigoted and closed minded that it was our generation who paved the way for his to claim anything they want on their social media bios, without fear. He didn’t get it, not at all…
This column is absolutely awesome! Kara, you’re one of the very, very few journalists in the U.S. who covers the real and most significant news about what is happening in our country. I love your keen insights and brilliant ways of expressing the news that others either cannot see or refuse to see. Most Americans are either ignorant or clueless of the realities of life. Their heads are filled with social life, entertainment, sports, ways to make more money, their next car and other “things” to possess or collect. So very few can see, understand and interpret what steps must… Read more »
Hmm, I wrote my thesis on a computer, and that was in 1979… good article though!
Yes. I am a boomer, but have always embraced change. I was a tech writer beginning in the 70s and used PCs with DOS and Unix in the 90s. My workmates were software engineers and electrical and electronics engineers. I always wanted my MTV and believe that 80s music saw female musicians first make their mark in the world (Joan Jett, Belinda Carlisle, Susanna Hoffs, Expose’). But, there was some damn fine music in the 60s, 70s as well as the 90s all the way up to today. Maybe I was a late bloomer. I had my only child at… Read more »
Leave it to a boomer to have to make it all about them.
YES! THIS! I cried a little reading it. We were also the last generation to hide under our desks at school for nuclear bomb drills.
Be Excellent to One Another!
Do you know what I miss? The “motion picture television event.” Kids and younger adults these days have no idea what that was. That night when The Wizard of Oz or The Sound of Music or Gone with the Wind would come on TV and everybody— like, everybody— watched it at that time, that night. I remember when Jaws debuted on network TV, what a huge deal it was. There was no way to rent it, or stream it,; it was your one chance to watch it at home. HUGE deal. I remember in 1976, or 1977, the Charlie Brown… Read more »
I was born in ’77…My childhood was Nintendo. Yet Im a Gen X’r!
It was cool when those were an event and people truly experienced it together.
For Halloween this year, I cut holes out of a white sheet and carried a bag with a rock in it (that was from It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown).
Spot on. We taught digital to the boomers and analog to the Millenials.
Not a bad article, although Im not teaching my kids to be gender fluid. Im fairly certain this isn’t the norm for Gen X either.
I believe this is the part you are misquoting “And the children we have raised are groundbreakers–rejecting gender stereotypes, patriarchal rule and systemic discrimination in very loud voices. They GET that race, gender and even heterosexuality are social constructs.”
Not teaching our kids to be gender fluid but more not caring or making a big deal if someone is.
Article states we are the first to experience gender fluid artist like Bowie and Boy George. Article states our children reject gender stereotypes. No where does it state we are teaching our children to be gender fluid.
70s and 80s were the best from a 54 year old proud Gen X’er…
Don’t remember the 70’s…i liked the 80’s and 90’s….44 gen X’r.
I prefer the 80’s and 90’s too, and as of now it is the dominant culture for the decades.
It is unfortunate that the 70’s culture isn’t more developed, but those who supposedly like it don’t do anything to promote it.
So many great videos saying all of this as GenX has invaded and taken over TikTok 😂
I dont think we want 1980 tax brackets
That’s exactly the problem – we *do* want pre-1980s taxes. Higher tax on high income is how we pay for a great country. Check out the tax rates when America was great – that fact would make Trump cry. They were much higher on high income.
Riot grrrl, this is a great snapshot of overall good kids. We get it and we got this (too)
This was the best damn GenX article I’ve ever read.
I agree with so much of this.
Except for the school shooting part. There were school shootings before and during our time in high school. The song “I Don’t Like Mondays” by the Boomtown Rats is about the 1979 shooting in San Diego. Columbine is the first so many remember, but probably because it was the first of its kind during the dawning of the age of social media. https://www.k12academics.com/school-shootings/history-school-shootings-united-states
You’re right but Post-Kennedy writes “… with this threat hanging over us as the norm.” That’s accurate.
She meant and should have said ‘mass school shootings’. It is widely agreed the first of these was the Charles Whitman shootings at the University of Texas in 1966.
Yes, I should have been more precise and I have corrected that. Thanks for having my back.
Columbine is the blueprint of school shootings today.
They were Millennials too.
Gen X Rules.
I wish you hadn’t thrown in that standard Millennial complaint, “…and we’re exhausted”. That’s not very Gen X. We aren’t exhausted. We don’t care. It’s all good. Whatever… nevermind.
Speak for yourself. I’m pretty f-ing exhausted. As are most of my peers.
Heck with you….. I’m exhausted. (Which leads to the not-care thing)
I’m exhausted and I don’t care.
When the book Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture was published in 1991 the consensus was that Gen X didn’t start in 1965 when the Baby Boomer generation officially ended but instead included those who were born just prior to 1965 and who did not share the same experiences as the Boomers. Now that early distinction seems to have been lost and Gen X begins in 1965,
Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture is not a research book.
Pew Research is an actual research engine and they have actual data to back up the parameters of Generation X to be those born between 1965 and 1980.
The writer of that book is a Baby Boomer!
I understand that, but culturally, someone born in 1964 or even earlier, doesn’t share the same experiences as the Baby Boomers. That distinction seems to have been lost over the years.
They do share similar experiences, that is why they are part of the generation.
Pew Research versus Your Casual Opinion = Pew Research Wins
You seem not to be familiar with the early days of the term “Generation X” so are also unfamiliar with how the term has morphed over the years. This isn’t my useless casual opinion as you put it. Also, 1964 wasn’t chosen as the cut off year for the Baby Boom because of cultural reasons. It was the number of births.
“You seem not to be familiar with the early days of the term “Generation X”
Pop Quiz: Who coined the term “Generation X”?
The answer is Robert Capa.
A fact is different than your opinion, which is why you didn’t answer.
Let me be sure I follow you: Pew Research constructed the Baby Boom from the years 1946-1964 based solely on cultural surveys and did the same for Generation X which is why that generation is said to have been born in 1965. Is that right?
I am not sure how Robert Capa figures into my previous comments …
You simply need to do research on the subject Not Sure.
Do you understand how uncertain you look?
So laf. Why was 1964 the last year of the Baby Boom?
It was to cover possible births from older adults who were also adults in the 1940s. It is an arbitrary year, as there were certainly people who were adults in WW2 who had kids after 1964, and there were certainly people born during WW2 who had children in the early 1960s (my parents, for example). I was born in December of 1964, but have experiences which are really Gen X, not Boomer.
The lines for those generations were already drawn long ago, you should have held those around you accountable.
No, I disagree, I am at the very end of the baby boomers era, and except in one area where I’m more of a baby boomer, in all others I am totally a Gen X. And I think most are in the 1962-1965 era. Pew may have done the research in the past, but I bet if they did it today, the outcome may be different.
Pew Research vs Something you don’t even truly believe = Pew Research wins
Your new name is Not Sure.
That may be your name as well: “The Gen-X label, as we know it today, is the primary definition for those born roughly between 1961 and 1983. ” https://sologenxwarriors.com/tag/robert-capa/
You probably didn’t spend more than 4 minutes researching that Not Sure.
What year were you born?
So laf. You tell me to do my research then you tell me I didn’t spend enough time. Generations are made up, but the Baby Boom was an actual demographic event.
You aren’t even sure what year you were born.
You’ve earned your name Not Sure.
Back to my original point which you missed: after the novel Generation X was published and that term entered common usage in the USA, the dates of Generation X were not fixed as they are today. Is that so hard to understand? And yes, I do know when I was born – I am Gen X 🙂
It’s a group and all functional groups need boundaries.
Generation X are those people born between 1965 and 1980.
The lines were drawn long ago and if you weren’t so self-centered you would have been paying attention.
Regardless of which years your source states are “Gen X”, it’s unrealistic to believe those born in the early mid 60s shared a remotely similar childhood and life experience to those born late 70s very early 80s. As someone born in ‘75 this article hit home. Bounced it off two friends born early 60s and at least per their life experience, not nearly as relevant.
It is equally unrealistic to believe those born in the early 60s shared a remotely similar childhood and life experience to those born in the late 1940s. This the sub-cohort “Generation Jones,” which another poster references below.
It’s unrealistic of you to post things you don’t know anything about.
You have access to the internet and libraries, you have no excuse for trying to spit out your opinion as fact.
Have you heard of Generation Jones? Generation Jones is the social cohort of the latter half of the Baby boomer generation to the first years of Generation X. The term Generation Jones was first coined by the cultural commentator Jonathan Pontell, who identified the cohort as those born from 1954 to 1965 in the U.S., who were children during Watergate, the oil crisis, and stagflation rather than during the 1960s, but slightly before Gen X. Unlike “leading-edge boomers”, most of Generation Jones did not grow up with World War II veterans as fathers, and for them there was no compulsory military service and no defining political cause, as opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War had… Read more »
I was born December of 1964, and have little in common with my boomer parents, born during the Second World War.
Generation Jones was coined to account for the diverging experiences of the 2nd half of the Baby Boomer generation:
I was born in Dec ’77 and have little in common with a 1965 Gen x’r.
So you’re saying Baby Boomers are the worst, right?
Wow. I’m not sure what to say here. This author nailed it. So well said. Thanks for writing this. It’s spot on… “just google it – thanks to Gen X” I love that… And now… a clip for you… wait for the “classical” music to kick in! Thx again for the article.
Love that song, it is a classic today.
Thank you for putting it so succinctly. I had this very conversation last night with a millennial who believes that nothing happened before they did… You’re right. We get it. We did it.
To add another Gen X event, there was the fall of the U.S.S.R.
Yeah, I personally was in more fear growing up of nuclear Armageddon than I was of my kids being involved in a mass school shooting. The fall of the USSR was a huge influence on us.
That U.S.S.R. did some of the most unbelievable things….in 1979 one of their biological weapons (anthrax) leaked and created a plague-like circumstance there.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was mentioned and that was a notable event in the break-up of the USSR.
Not long ago I have a conversation with a girl that lived in Germany when the wall came down at Dollar General in Burwell, Nebraska…is was fascinating.
It would have been a very dark and strange time to live in Germany.