Generation X: Understanding the Forgotten Generation

Generation X is often referred to as the “forgotten generation” because it is sandwiched between the larger, more well-known Baby Boomer and Millennial generations.

generation x

Generation X defines a cohort born between 1965 and 1980, spanning a period of 15 years. The eldest of the cohort is 59 years old in 2024. This cohort is often characterized as independent, skeptical, and adaptable, with a strong emphasis on work-life balance and personal fulfillment.

Generation Xers experienced and continue to experience significant cultural and social shifts. These include the rise of technology, the emergence of MTV, tremendous cultural shifts, and the impact of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Gulf War.

Xers are also regarded as the last generation to hold dear to pre-21st century culture, belief, and values. They are the last to understand the values that guided humanity before technology became the norm. They are actually the last cohort that can salvage the world from decay!

According to Vanity Fair,

Generation X, the last Americans schooled in the old manner, the last Americans that know how to fold a newspaper, take a joke, and listen to a dirty story without losing their minds.

Why Xers Are Regarded as the Forgotten Generation

Generaton X is often referred to as the “forgotten generation” because Xers are sandwiched between the larger, more well-known Baby Boomer and Millennial generations.

As a result, they are largely overlooked in discussions about generational cohorts, marketing strategies, and societal trends.

Xers also came of age during a time of economic uncertainty and political/social upheaval. This led to their sense of cynicism and skepticism that still defines them today.

This skepticism towards institutions and authority may also contribute to their being overlooked in generational discussions.

Furthermore, the rise of the internet and social media led to a focus on Millennials as the “digital natives” and the primary target for marketing and advertising.

Despite being called the forgotten generation, Xers have many unique characteristics and values that are important to understand. As they continue to age and take on leadership roles in organizations and institutions, it is crucial to recognize and acknowledge their contributions and perspectives.

What Makes Generation X Unique?

generation x
Image by Jowanna Daley from Pixabay

They are the first users of computers:

While millenials are often considered the first digital natives, X was the first generation to grow up with personal computers and video games. They were also the first to use the internet in their daily lives, making them uniquely equipped to navigate the digital world.

They are independent and self-sufficient:

Growing up in a time of economic uncertainty, Xers learned to be self-sufficient and independent from an early age. They value hard work, individualism, and personal responsibility, and are less likely to rely on others for help.

They are skeptical and cynical:

They were also the first generation to grow up in a time of economic uncertainty and job instability.

Generation X grew up at a time of political and socioeconomic upheaval, and general uncertainty and job instability. This left them with a sense of skepticism and cynicism. Thus, they are less likely to trust institutions and authority figures, and are more likely to question the status quo.

They are diverse and inclusive:

Generation X is a very diverse generation, with a mix of ethnicities and cultures. They also tend to be more inclusive and accepting of diversity in all its forms.

They pioneered pop culture

Gen X is also defined by its relationship and love for music and ar. Xers actually pioneered pop culture as we know it today. They grew up watching lots of TV soaps, and for this, have fond memories of ‘Friends‘ and other popular TV series.

Why is it Important to Understand Xers?

As the world moves towards newer generations, it is easy to overlook the contributions and characteristics of previous ones such as Generation X.

While Generation X is often overlooked, understanding them is essential for a few reasons:

They are the leaders of today:

Generation X is now in their 40s and 50s, meaning they are now the leaders of many organizations and institutions. Understanding their values, beliefs, and behaviors is crucial for working with them effectively.

They are the bridge between generations:

As the generation sandwiched between the Baby Boomers and Millennials, Generation X serves as a bridge between two very different generations. Understanding their unique perspective is essential for building bridges between these two groups.

They are the parents of tomorrow:

As parents, Generation X is raising the next generation of leaders and influencers. Understanding their values and beliefs is crucial for understanding the world that their children will grow up in.

Historical Events that Shaped this Generation

Image by Mediamodifier from Pixabay 

Economic Changes:

Many Gen Xers experienced economic uncertainty and instability as they entered adulthood. The 1970s saw an economic downturn, and many Gen Xers entered the workforce during the recession of the early 1980s. This led to a sense of pessimism and a lack of trust in institutions.

Technological Advances:

Gen Xers were the first generation to grow up with personal computers, video games, and the internet. This exposure to technology has shaped their approach to work, communication, and socialization.

Shifting Family Dynamics:

Many Xers grew up in households with two working parents or as latchkey kids, which had an impact on their independence and self-reliance. They also experienced an increase in divorce rates and a decline in traditional family values.

Cultural Changes:

Gen Xers came of age during a time of cultural upheaval, including the rise of punk rock and hip-hop music, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the end of the Cold War. This led to a sense of rebellion and a desire for authenticity.

Political Events:

Gen Xers witnessed political scandals such as Watergate and the Iran-Contra affair, as well as the rise of conservative politics in the 1980s. These events led to a distrust of politicians and government institutions.

Overall, these factors shaped Generation X into a pragmatic and resilient generation. They cherish the desire for independence, self-reliance, and a sense of purpose.

Parents of Generation X

Parents of Xers are typically members of the Baby Boomer and Silent generations. Boomers were so named due to the high birth rate following World War II, which led to a “boom” in population.

The parents of Generation X were raised in a time of significant social and cultural change. These include the Civil Rights Movement, the rise of feminism, and the Vietnam War. Many Baby Boomers came of age during the 1960s counterculture and were known for their rejection of traditional values. They embraced new forms of expression and lifestyles.

As parents, Baby Boomers were known for being more permissive than previous generations. They encouraged their children to be independent and pursue their own goals.

However, they also faced criticism for being self-absorbed and focused on their own interests and careers at the expense of their families. Overall, the parenting styles of Baby Boomers had a significant impact on the values and attitudes of their children in Generation X.

Children of Generation X

The children of Generation X are typically members of the Millennial generation, Generation Y, and even Generation Alpha.

As children, Millennials grew up in a time of rapid technological change, with the rise of the internet, personal computers, and mobile devices. They were also raised in a time of significant social and economic change, including the globalization of the economy and the increasing diversity of society.

Millennials are known for being highly connected, with a strong reliance on technology for communication and social interaction. They are often characterized as being optimistic, idealistic, and socially conscious, with a strong emphasis on work-life balance and personal fulfillment.

The parenting styles of Generation X had a significant impact on the values and attitudes of their children in the Millennial generation. Generation X parents were often more hands-off than previous generations, encouraging their children to be independent and self-reliant.

This approach helped to shape the entrepreneurial spirit and self-sufficiency that is often associated with Millennials.

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