Generation X values…a bit more context

In Defining Events, Generation demographics, Work Values on March 2, 2010 at 2:16 pm

There is much written about key events that have shaped the values of different generations.  Before I start a big rant about how being a latchkey kid changed my perception of who I am and how I work, I thought it would be good to give a little context and list a few important events that have shaped Generation X.

As for the rant…I will deliver, just not yet.

A  few events that have influenced  my generation include:  challenger explosion, AIDS, Reaganomics, rising divorce rates, Berlin Wall,  Watergate, the end of the cold war and of course, the creation of MTV.

Dates defining the Gen X’ers vary, but tend to start somewhere in the early 1960′s and run until the late 70′s.  We generally value independence, self-reliance, informality, information, fun and non-conformity. We are the original latchkey kids which made us value balance between family and work, not letting ourselves be defined only by the work we do but the authentic relationships we develop and the change we create in our communities. We saw the old adage  “if you work hard enough you will be successful” get turned upside down.  We witnessed our parents work day and night, choosing their work over family in the hope it would pay off and then still have “the man” push them down.  We saw rules change, rugs pulled out from under you and the lemmings fall off the cliff.

It is no wonder we are cynical and pragmatic by nature, always preparing for the next rule change, longing for stability while still investing in ourselves and always seeking information that will help us negotiate the next big rule change.  GenX is the generation with the highest education levels and the generation that uses online technology the most for obtaining information…a likely response to the constant changing of rules that has defined our development.

If you are a boomer and reading this you may say “but we saw lots of rules change, Vietnam, civil rights, women’s lib…” The difference between the X’ers and the boomers when it comes to changing rules is that boomers were involved and instrumental in changing rules-they were the rebels who made it happen.   Reganomics, watergate, space shuttle challenger, AIDS, safe sex etc.  were all changes that happened to us, creating a generation of people who must react and choose to adapt to survive. The idealism of the generation before us is not lost on us, we just chalk it up to romantic notions and senior moments not rooted in today’s reality.

In an effort not to write a book here (that has already been done and I’m really not into recreating the wheel)…I will write an additional post about key events for boomers and millenials, the two other generations predominately in the workforce today.   Stay tuned….

In the meantime…please share world or national events that helped shape you.  And hold on for that rant, I’m working up to it.

  1. Interesting blog, mysterious blonde in this sea of grey…kudos to you. But it’s missing an important part of the equation: Generation Jones (between the Boomers and Generation X). Google Generation Jones, and you’ll see it’s gotten lots of media attention, and many top commentators from many top publications and networks (Washington Post, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) now specifically use this term. In fact, the Associated Press’ annual Trend Report chose the Rise of Generation Jones as the #1 trend of 2009. I found this page helpful because it gives a pretty good overview of recent media interest in GenJones:

    It is important to distinguish between the post-WWII demographic boom in births vs. the cultural generations born during that era. Generations are a function of the common formative experiences of its members, not the fertility rates of its parents. And most analysts now see generations as getting shorter (usually 10-15 years now), partly because of the acceleration of culture. Many experts now believe it breaks down more or less this way:

    DEMOGRAPHIC boom in babies: 1946-1964
    Baby Boom GENERATION: 1942-1953
    Generation Jones: 1954-1965
    Generation X: 1966-1978
    Generation Y/Millennials: 1979-1993

    • Ahhh….Generation Jones, proposed and created by Jonathan Pontell. I am pleased you brought it up.

      In typical GenX fashion, I am still on the fence about recognizing Generation Jones. The cynic in me sees the creation of Generation Jones as classic boomer style-always starving for the limelight when focus wanes. I wonder if GenJones is merely another attempt to drive exploration into marketing and media strategies of boomers or maybe just a way to support the business model of a savvy man, Pontell. I give him cred for his genius-not a bad business model but is this generation really a different generation or merely an example of diversity within a generation (boomers)? If it is really all that different, why hasn’t it come up before? As I said, the skeptic in me smells media attention and speaking engagements but doesn’t necessarily see substantial information to set them apart.

      With that said….the intellectual in me is interested in this differentiation and wants to know more. Not opposed to the idea, I just find it fascinating that the idea hasn’t come up in years past and that it is surrounded with such media fervor and a charismatic leader (Obama) that both the boomers and GenX are anxious to claim their own.

      So convince me further I ask…I’m open to exploring the idea.

  2. Oh yeah! A romantic whose all moments are senior.
    “Do I dare eat a peach…”
    I look forward to your coming rant.

  3. [...] it spawned , the Challenger explosion, the AIDS epidemic and the fall of the Berlin Wall. What values and worldview emerged in those who grew up in the [...]

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