Yesterday, it came as a shock to discover I no longer existed. In one fell swoop of a demographer’s pen not just me, but my entire generation were written out of the statistics.
According to KPMG Partner, Bernard Salt
“Generation X are not what they pretend to be: an independent life form with generationally distinct values and behaviours. In fact I suspect that Xers are nothing but a bunch of mini-me baby boomers who wandered off from the 1950′s and found themselves in the 60′s.”
Good Lord they have taken every thing else now the boomers want to claim our identity as well! Salt was writing as the Social Editor of The Australian, I’ve linked to the article but in typical, make a buck any where you can boomer style, it’s hidden behind a pay wall, I doubt my readers in America, Oman and that lovely person from Uzbekistan want to subscribe to an Australian newspaper to read a single article but you never know.
The boomers have dominated the landscape forever, born out of the relief of wartime celebrations (God knows if you’ve just survived a world war you would have been wanting a bit of lovin’ attention when you got home) they had the numbers behind them. The Xers arrived on the scene without the fanfare of the boomers, no passionate partying to celebrate being alive, just good old-fashioned, everyday nooky without a story behind it. There were less of us, in comparison to the boomers, so it was inevitable our voices would be lost under the incessant chatter of the boomers. Just when we thought we might start to get some attention the boomers went and had kids – hello “look at me” Generation Y. Again, demographics is a numbers game, and Y had that sown up, so it immediately became about “how to communicate with the new generation. What do Gen Y need to be happy at work yadda yadda yadda. Nobody ever ran courses in how to talk to Generation X!
There’s always been debate about where Generation X began and ended but in most cases it was defined as roughly 1965 – 1981.
According to Salt, that’s not the case, he reckons Generation X is really the arse end of the boomers or the first wave of Generation Y.
“There have been only two clearly defined generations in the past 70 years, the boomers and their generation Y children; all else is generational mortar.”
He does agree his theory leaves a tiny gap,
“This means that Xers, if they exist at all, are confined to a small paddock fitting between the late 60′s and early 70′s: they are now aged 35-45″.
Does Generation X exist? Do we have an identifiable set of characteristics that set us apart?
Who the hell are we?
Well we’re the generation who have learnt not to expect too much. Instability has ruled our lives. We were the first generation of latchkey kids, the first to experience divorce en masse. We were the kids who just missed out. We arrived at Uni just as the Government decided we had to pay for it, we were old enough to have sex just as AIDS arrived, we hit the workforce in the middle of a recession. We’ve had to learn to adapt: computers, internet, mobile phones, we’ve been flexible, learnt the new stuff each time it arrived. In fact, the boomers may have created the internet but Gen X figured out how to use it – Google, You-Tube, Amazon, Wikipedia – all Gen X.
We are seen as sceptical and cynical – as if that’s a bad thing? We’ve changed jobs and careers numerous times. We moved away from home and created our own family groups amongst our friends. When we had our own kids we looked for new ways of creating work/life balance.
We don’t have the fanfare of the boomers, we don’t tell you what we are doing, we just do it. We changed social attitudes not with placards and angry refrain but by simply living our lives to our own code of ethics. We didn’t argue about the morals of “living in sin” we just did it, we removed the stigma of having babies outside of marriage by giving birth to them and proudly celebrating their existence. We didn’t believe in living in a closet and ignored those who criticised homosexuality by taking our gay/straight mates to the pub to party. While the boomers fought about refugees and “boat people” we adopted children of all nationalities, created our families and educated our children in multi-cultural kindergartens where the school photo was a thing of colourful beauty.
We are the quiet achievers.
We wore taffeta and perms and created music as diverse as Nirvana to Kylie Minogue to Eminem. We thought boys in make-up were cool, hello Duran Duran and Boy George.
We grew up in the shadow of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear holocaust.
TV was a constant in our life and through it we watched the Berlin Wall come down, the Space Challenger disaster, and Ronald Reagan get shot.
It’s hard to define us because we are a diverse generation. It’s easy to discard us because we have never had a rally point to draw us together (yes we know boomers you had the Vietnam War). That doesn’t mean we don’t care or aren’t effective we just prefer to create change through pragmatic persistence rather than trumpet blowing, pat-yourself-on the back acclaim.
Mr Salt, with the greatest respect, you are wrong, Generation X does exist.
Do you think Generation X exists? What’s our identity? What are our achievements?