Whatever. A Gen X perspective on the rest of them.
by Beth Seitzberg
Boomers are incredible. They make very interesting parents and are changing the way everyone views aging. And Millennials? My god, they’re changing absolutely everything and aren’t they just fascinating with the totally new ways that they think?!
Sick of it.
There, I said it, and I know you agree with me. That’s right, I’m looking at you, fellow Gen Xers. Sandwiched on both sides by the self-indulgent and the over-parented, we managed to shed the slacker image of our teenage years only to remain the middle children of history (with thanks to Tyler Durden). Maybe it’s working in marketing, but over the last few years we’ve been bombarded with information about Millennials attitudes, tastes, personalities, and work styles. Boomers are freaking obsessed with them. Or maybe just using them as an excuse to reshape the world yet again. Marketers are making up whole new disciplines just to try to talk to 22 year-olds, who, like all 22 year-olds throughout history, are completely self-centered and insisting that they are special. Boomer employers are worried about how to make their business more hospitable to the up and coming youth. Remember what they said to us when we were entering the work force? “About time you got a job, slacker, now grow up.” So we adjusted. We fit in or we found paths that let us do it our way while still getting the job done. We did it quietly, on our own, and for the most part we’ve turned out pretty well despite what they told us.
You remember what they told us, right? First of all, the cold war was going to get very hot and the Soviets were going to make sure most of us didn’t live past 1982. We learned U.S. geography based on where the nuclear missiles would be most likely to hit first. Based on where I was living at the time, I had something like 8 hours from initial strike. And then suddenly, all of that was over. “It’s fine now, ha ha, didn’t mean to scare you kids, drink more Pepsi. Oh, and here’s a key to the house because mom and dad will both be at work when you get home from school. Watch TV or play Nintendo or something. Oh, and by the way, did you know you are the first generation that won’t be better off than your parents, no matter how hard you try? Ok, good, as long as that’s clear.” Whatever.
No wonder we started ignoring them. And yes, we pouted for a while.
There’s something like 50 million of us Xers in the world, which is paltry when compared to the 70+ million members of the generations on either side of us. We’ve been busy building lives for ourselves, mostly without the benefit of anyone paying much attention. Along the way we’ve managed to change a few things. Work schedules are more flexible, comic books get more respect, video games are better and technology has advanced because of them, and kids have all the toys we always wished we had.
We’ll see if the Boomers can change the world for the Millennials. My guess is that the kids will change more than the world will, just like it always happens. It’s probably ok if they both keep ignoring us. We’ll just be over here, playing with their toys. Because, as much as we found a way to fit in when we had to, we’re never going to grow up.