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Generation X: Talking About My Generation (Part 4)

Aug 22, 13 Generation X: Talking About My Generation (Part 4)

Thus far, I have written about the Traditionalists and Baby Boomers. The former was conservative and loyal, the latter sought change and worked…a lot. Now, we move onto Generation X, those born between 1965-1980. Before moving on, I should say that I was born in 1980, which sometimes puts me at the end of Generation X while other times the beginning of Millennials. I consider myself a Gen Xer, though. I tend to fit more into this category than I do the Millennials, although I will talk about the few attributes that I have of Millennials in that blog. I feel it is important that readers know that much of what I write in this blog comes from my experience as a member of Generation X.

Once again, this group of individuals changed even more from their immediate predecessors. Where the Baby Boomers worked all of the time, Gen Xers said no more. They believe in work, but they also believe in play and a balance of work and home life. If Baby Boomers believe that life was work, Generation Xers follow the motto of work to live. Often, those of Generation X are categorized as the angry generation, the generation of grunge music, angst, and fierce independence. Still, today, as those in their 30s an 40s, that independence drives their lives. The anger and angst might have lessened, but it is still present. The skepticism (keyword of Generation X) at all things authority is where the anger presents itself most. As the West Midland Family Center (WMFC) acknowledges, attributes of the Generation X are:

  • Adaptable
  • Angry but don’t know why
  • Antiestablishment mentality
  • Big Gap with boomers
  • Can change
  • Crave independence
  • Confident
  • Competent
  • Ethical
  • Flexible
  • Focus on Results
  • Free agents
  • Highest number of divorced parents
  • High degree of brand loyalty
  • Ignore leadership
  • Independent
  • Loyal to Manager
  • Pampered by their parents
  • Pragmatic
  • Results driven
  • Self-starters
  • Self-sufficient
  • Skeptical of institutions
  • Unimpressed with Authority
  • Willing to take on responsibility
  • Willing to put in the extra time to get a job done
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Work to live

These attributes manifest in all aspects of the Gen Xer’s life. The most telling is the independence and individuality, the self. These really drive much of what makes  Generation X tick. As the Montana Office of Public Instruction identifies, Generation X is the most misunderstood generation. This is probably because they do not work, work, work like their parents and grandparents nor is their commitment more to work than to themselves. The Generation Xer is flexible and motivated, thus they want a portable career, one that moves with them.

This generation is also better educated as more than 60 percent attended college. That education further plays into their need for individuality and their skepticism at authority. They have read and learned about the past and the blind loyalty to government, and they do not like it. They believe questioning is important, and change is necessary.

The latter could be because they are the generation that had the introduction of the most technology. Where Traditionalists had radio and Baby Boomers TV, Generation X had Atari, MTV, 24-hour television, personal computers, cassettes, CDs, portable cassette and CD players (i.e. Walkmans), pagers, cell phones, PDAS, and the internet, just to list a few. This generation was the first to really grow up with personal computers. So much technology changed their lives that they are adaptable to the technology. Change is necessary, after all.

But more important is their need for a balance between work and life. This generation watched their workaholic parents and decided that was not for them. They believe in hard work, make no mistake, but they do not believe that work should supersede all else in life. Living is far more important than working to the Gen Xer.

Though this is by far the smallest generation of the four in this series, it is no less important to our society, culture, and lives. The liberal thinking of this generation drives the changes we see today. The moodiness, though, is sometimes draining (wink, wink).

Image Credit: Thinkstock.com

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About 

Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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