Forget the Baby Boomers, and yes, there's a buzz about the Generation Y. What about those of us from the Generation X? Generation X-ers were born from roughly the mid-Sixties to the start of the Eighties. We didn’t even get a name until Douglas Coupland wrote a novel about us in 1991, and for a long time people thought Generation X meant we were nihilistic slackers who would never amount to much. But, oh, we’ve come of age now. We’re mainly in our forties and fifties, and this is our time.
Generation X has the benefit of possessing the best characteristics of both the boomers and the millennials, and none of the downsides. We know how to work hard and we know how to play hard. Generation X-ers are very industrious. Boomers don’t understand the internet and millennials were raised on it. Generation X created it.
We stripped off and dove into the glittering waters of this brand new thing, and made it what it is today. We had a dot com boom (and a couple of busts), we took those progressive late-boomers Bill Gates and Steve Jobs under our wing and showed them what we could do with their stuff. We walked around with phones the size of rucksacks and sent the first halting text-messages. We knuckled down and worked hard and now we write books and make TV and direct movies, we get up early to go to work, we come out in the middle of the night to fix your burst pipe.
Generation X was breast-fed punk and invented indie, and grunge, and techno, and any bloody musical genre of worth that you care to name. We transformed the Eighties and we owned the Nineties. We had alcopops and ecstasy and we were fearless and stupid and happy, but we still got up for work on Monday morning, no matter how bad we felt.
Boomers live in the past and have ransomed the future. Millennials fear the future and are ignorant of the past. Generation X acknowledges what has gone before, learns from it, and resolves to shape the future into something better. We don’t throw our hands in the air and say the job’s a bust, let’s give up. We know we can’t go back to mythical halcyon days and we know we can’t just rip it up and start again. We work with what we’ve got and try to make it better. We change things from the inside out.
Boomers’ lives were defined by a war they have no memory of. Millennials fear a war they can never survive. Generation X: we knew war. Some of us fought and died in Bosnia, in Afghanistan, in Iraq. Some of us protested those wars. We lived through the mistakes and we can make sure they don’t happen again.
Yes, Generation X had some things easy. We were paid by the state to go to university. We’re the last generation to be able to afford home ownership and get a mortgage. We remember when it was easier to get a job. Generation X is unique because nobody has had lives like we’ve got. Boomers were old by the time they were 40; millennials have yet to hit that milestone. Generation X is pushing back the envelope of old age, through attitude and health, like never before. We can do the shopping and read comic books and pay the bills and play video games. We can “adult” all you like, but we’re still kids at heart.
The problem with you millennials and boomers, though you’d never admit it, is you’re too alike. You’re both insular, in different ways. You’re both selfish. You’re both so blinkered, you think you’re the only two factions in this petty little fight of yours.
You forgot about Generation X.
But don’t fret, we’re still here. Working hard, playing hard, innovating, learning from the past and planning the future. So have your little generational war, and when you’re done, don’t worry.
We’re Generation X, and we've got this.