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.