Generation X – An Introduction To Our Likes & Dislikes

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Generation X – An Introduction To Our Likes & Dislikes

In 1991, the 28-year-old author Douglas Coupland wrote a novel called Generation X: Tales of an Accelerated Culture. The phrase appeared shortly after the release of the novel in today’s dialect. Coupland portrays a group of three friends who have escaped civilization for quiet Palm Springs, California, who tell each other stories while swimming in bad jobs. Through these stories, the novel reveals the anxiety felt by those born in the early 1960s who are Baby Boomers but feel no connection to their cultural icons. For this age group, the “X” symbolizes an unknown value for a generation that is awakening to the awareness of its reality as a distinct group, but at the same time is culturally rejected by the Baby Boomer Generation (Wikipedia, n.d.). The phrase Generation X defines an age group that aimlessly searches for an identity that does not exist.

In demography, marketing, popular culture and the social sciences, the phrase Generation X classifies the generation immediately following the Baby Boomers. According to William Strauss and Neil Howe in their book Generations, the lows and highs in cultural trends as opposed to birth rates indicate that this generation is composed of those born between 1961 and 1981 (Strauss & Howe, 1990). They are also known as the “13th generation” because they are the thirteenth generation born since the generation of those in the American Revolution (Wikipedia, n.d.). The total number of people born in Generation X is now estimated at more than 50 million people, surpassing the number of Baby Boomers since 1980 (Mitchell, McLean & Turner, 2005).

This generation also has many other synonymous labels. Among them are those that carry more benign critical subtexts like “The MTV Generation,” or “Slackers.” The former implies a dull attention span for nothing more than flashy camera work with quick cuts typical of those in music videos (Isaksen, 2002). The latter implies a generation with little ambition popularized by the 1991 Richard Linklater film “Slacker.” Broad generalizations of members of any generation will not accurately depict every member of that generation. Many of the generational stereotypes of Generation X, often attributed to them by Baby Boomers, are simply false. They are the most technologically savvy generation, being the first to grow up with television, the advent of personal computers and video games. The stereotype comes from the arrival of MTV in 1981 which specifically catered to them. Yet, despite all the allure of Atari, Pacman and MTV, they are very intelligent. According to college and university enrollment figures, Generation X is also the most educated generation in the history of the United States. Since the beginning of this generation’s high school graduations in 1980, their high school graduates are routinely enrolling in higher education in record amounts (Mitchell, McLean & Turner, 2005). Also, every generation has slackers who represent a dissident group and are not necessarily exclusive to this generation (Mitchell, McLean & Turner, 2005).

Anger and restlessness are two definitive terms that describe Generation X. Much of it is expressed through her choice in music. Alternative rock music from so-called “grunge” bands such as Alice In Chains, Nirvana and Pearl Jam characterize this generation. Likewise, the hip hop music of artists such as Dr Dre, Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur also characterizes this generation. A popular myth is that they are only white. However, this group is very diverse in ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation and status. They are 70% white, 13% black, 12% Hispanic, 4% Asian and 1% Native American (Mitchell, McLean & Turner, 2005). This generation feels burdened with what they believe is the result of careless behavior of previous generations: AIDS, broken families, the environment, homelessness, the national debt and poverty. Yet this generation developed during a time of relative calm in American history. A single cohesive experience such as World War II, Korea or Vietnam to bring them together could have prevented them from developing into a unified group (Mitchell, McLean & Turner, 2005). This generation experiences a combined distinction not from one unified event, but rather from mutual experiences and social circumstances (Isaksen, 2002).

Generation X children were also known collectively as “Latch-Key Kids,” with television acting as a main babysitter or parental substitute. A large majority of the children of this generation lived in dual income households and unlike previous generations, many were forced to come home from school to fend for themselves. In addition, they grew up under both the Republican administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush of the 1980s that limited social programs (Mitchell, McLean & Turner, 2005). As a direct result, they are realistic in their expectations due to self-confidence learned at a young age. Based on a lifetime of exposure to television advertising, this generation is very discerning as a group of consumers. They view both the establishment and the government with a great degree of suspicion, choosing to trust only themselves and their friends. They instinctively know when they are being deliberately manipulated and absorb the information that is represented to be accurate not mindlessly. This generation places a greater value on honesty over hype (Mitchell, McLean & Turner, 2005).

Often, however, the degree of independence of Generation X is mistaken for a worthy level of egocentricity. But instead of identifying them as selfish, a more accurate descriptive term would be highly autonomous. They place great emphasis on individualism (Wikipedia, n.d.). Yet even with their aversion to collectivism, this generation is proud of their generation’s trait. They pride themselves on their degree of diversity, tolerance and inability to label. By living unconventional lifestyles such as interracial marriages and adoptions or living together before marriage, they practice peaceful acceptance while not trying to impose their personal values ​​on others (Wikipedia, n.d.).

Many in Generation X have seen their parents cold hearted by companies after years of loyal service. In contrast to the previous generations of their parents and grandparents, the employees of this generation do not expect to stay in one profession or company for their entire career. Instead of pursuing career stability, they expect to look for jobs elsewhere. This group has a tendency to seek work that provides better opportunities for skill development and individual fulfillment (Smith, 2003). These employees want the ability to sell elsewhere in the workforce through the training and growth of new learned abilities. Through vacation time, sick days and work leaves in addition to employee benefits such as day care, health care and stock investment plans, these workers also benefit. Ultimately, however, they find individual fulfillment from their work as a greater incentive than pay (Smith, 2003).

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