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The secret to Generation X is revealed (born between 1964 to 1980) (Part four of a seven-part series)

As with each generation there are major events that occur (some horrific, others enjoyable and fun) that can’t help but influence and define a unique attitude and set of values. Although Gen X has been called the lost generation, they are very much alive and kicking.

Article and collage by Michelle Post; courtesy photos

According to the widely-accepted parameters that define each generation, I am at the end of the baby boomers; I was born in 1963. However, I call myself a “Baby Gen Xer” since I share characteristics of both generations. Generation X (Gen X) is known as the “middle child” because it falls between the two largest generations, baby boomers and Generation Y (millennials). I never considered myself the middle child but instead, the creamy center of an Oreo cookie with the baby boomers and millennials as the hard cookies on the outside. I believe Gen X is always there to smooth out the issues between baby boomers and millennials.

Gen X has also been called the lost generation, latchkey kids, the sandwich generation, the unlucky generation, or the 13th generation. The name Gen X comes from the belief of being a nameless generation or “X” for unknown factor. Gen X includes approximately 46 million Americans compared to the baby boomers with 76 million and the millennials with 80 million.

Gen X had the lowest birth rates since the depression, and this is due to divorce, working moms, absent fathers, availability of birth control, the legalization of abortion in 1973 and AIDS. Gen X became self-reliant because they had to, and this led to their characteristics of skepticism, challenging others, and always asking why. Maybe it was events like the Vietnam War, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the Jonestown Massacre, the Three Mile Island nuclear melt down, corporate layoffs, the Rodney King beating and the Los Angeles riots, the Iranian hostage crisis and the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill that caused their cynicism.

What are the Gen Xer characteristics regarding (1) core values; (2) family; (3) money; (4) technology; and (5) work? Gen Xer core values are self-reliant, practical, flexible, adaptable, ethnically diverse, well educated, and they are driven by their value system. This generation has been called the “workhorses of America” because they are hard working. They also gave us one of the greatest gifts in the workplace, work-life balance, along with the 40-hour work week. They were not living to work as the baby boomers, but instead, they worked to live. Gen Xers embodied the entrepreneurial spirit. Famous Gen X entrepreneurs include the founders of Google, Twitter and Amazon, to name a few.

Money is necessary to Gen Xers; however, due to high student loan debts, this generation will not have as much for retirement. Technology is a tool that Gen Xers embraced when it first appeared in the late 70s, early 80s. There was no social media when they were growing up, but ironically, Gen Xers have invented many of the social media platforms used today.

Finally, I love how blogger Jen X writes about Gen X and family, “Gen Xers value the work-life balance because they know the job you sacrifice everything for, might not be there tomorrow. Why give it all and lose your family in the process?”



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