It wasn’t easy growing up as Generation X.
We didn’t want to rock out to Wham or flap around in parachute pants, but we did. We felt we had to.
Would have been nice if our Baby Boomer parents were there to tell us we looked like twats. But they were too busy building the post-war world order and organising key parties.
I blame them for the 80s in its entirety – every hyper-coloured, flock-of-seagulled, shoulder-padded last bit of it.
Who is Generation X?
On a really good day, Generation X might be remembered.
More typical, though, we’ll be completely overlooked in the rush to fawn over the tech-blessed Millennials or to wax nostalgic on the all-conquering Boomers.
On a bad day, Generation X will be dismissed as cynical and aloof – the unremarkable Middle Child, the Slacker Generation.
A lot of Gen X’s bad PR comes from our size.
What Are the Generation X Years?
Generation X (born 1965-1980) is much smaller than the Boomers (1946-1964), who were the progeny of an era when people screwed like bunnies having survived the horrors of WWII and enjoyed the booming economies of places like the US, where they now number over 74 million.
Millennials (1981-1996) will overtake Boomers in 2019 as their numbers, at least in the US, grow to 73 million as Boomers decline (72 million at that stage). Generation X, by comparison, has already peaked at 66 million and won’t outnumber the Boomers until 2028.
If actual generational warfare were to break out, Gen X would get its ass handed to it.
What is Generation X Best Known For?
As Gen X has moved into middle age, it has shed the worst of its unfair labels.
You’re more likely to hear the terms “entitled” and “slacker” directed at Millennials or Generation Z these days.
And we’ve built street cred by producing Uber cool Gen Xers like Kurt Cobain and Quentin Tarantino.
All grown up, Gen X has adopted the best of both the Boomer and Millennial traits.
Naturally pragmatic, self-reliant and outcomes focused, Gen X raised itself while their Boomer parents were off protesting. Generation X doesn’t need coddling, hand-holding or the constant reassurance Millennials crave.
Gen X is happy to quietly get on with the job as they move into upper management as Boomers retire.
Generation X and Technology
We understand technology. We grew up as little green cursers began blinking in households across the country.
The sound of a modem screeching through the phone, desperate for a connection, is deeply embedded in Gen X’s collective hippocampus.
Generation X adapted well to emerging technologies, we:
- Learned to use word processors when computers entered the workplace.
- Lugged around brick-size mobile phones – for the younger readers, we mean literally brick size.
- Dutifully signed up for Hotmail accounts and Myspace pages before Google and Facebook took over the world.
As Gen X moves up in the world, we bring tech skills to our leadership experience.
Millennial Mark Zuckerberg didn’t hire a millennial class-mate or an experienced Baby Boomer to run Facebook when it was blowing up. He hired a Gen Xer.
There is a lot of rubbish written about generations. Data-based projections can quickly deteriorate into horoscope-like generalisations when ‘experts’ overreach.
But sensible demographics can tell us how people born around the same time see the world.
What are the Baby Boomer Years?
Generations matter because they tell us what part of the lifecycle an age cohort is in and what events shaped their worldview. Baby Boomers (aged 54-72 in 2018) are at the end of their careers or are retired.
You’re not going to find a Baby Boomer rocking out at Coachella or posting smashed avocado pics on Instagram.
They’re more interested in retirement investments, health insurance and slimline suppositories.
What are the Millennials Years?
World events, and social and technological developments, shape each generation. Millennials (aged 22-37 in 2018) came of age with mobile devices and social media.
These Digital Natives see the world as fast-moving, malleable and innovation driven. They are comfortable moving at the breakneck speed of digital technology and are entrepreneurial by nature.
Marketers and salespeople go nuts over these insights. For them, understanding how people behave is gold in the quest to sell people more shit.
Governments use these demographics for everything from health policy to town planning. Defence forces use it for recruiting. Companies use it to train better managers. Politicians use it to understand voting behaviour.
Generations are handy for helping to understand what lies ahead.
In Where Next for Generation X, we look at what lay ahead for our hapless heroes, Generation X, and talk about how they can get ahead of the curve.
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