Generation X, baby boomers, millennials… with so many generations it is normal for you to get confused. If you are one of those who grew up with MTV or the Walkman , it is very likely that you belong to the former. We present some of the distinctive features of this unique generation, the one that lived through the transition to new technologies and saw how pop culture and consumerism took over the entire culture it had built.
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What is Generation X
Like all generations, this includes those born in a certain period of time, specifically between the 70’s and early 90’s , although that border with the millennials is quite diffuse. This generation was born during the technological boom, which is why they are often described as the architects of the new communication technologies, the expansion of the Internet and social networks. Despite being responsible for this impulse, one of the notable differences of Generation X with respect to millennials is that they maintain a responsible use of said technologies.
Those who are part of Generation X are children of baby boomers (born at the end of World War II). Therefore, they have beenspectators of a period of transition and peace that has allowed them to maintain a higher purchasing power . In parallel, they have experienced the development of the consumerist society although they have not fallen into excessive consumerism. Unlike millennials and Generation Z (more recently), they place a certain value on material goods because they have not adapted to planned obsolescence.
Where does the name come from? The photographer and journalist Robert Capa
is often cited as the first to use the term. The photographer declared in a photographic essay from 1953 that the new generations had a fatalistic vision of the future, for which he predicted an uncertain future for them. Therefore, “X” acquires the algebraic meaning, an unknown that had to be solved in the coming years. Little did Capa imagine the social changes that occurred in the following decade.
The term was recovered in 1991 by the writer Douglas Coupland to give the title to his novel Generation X. In it, special emphasis is placed on the lifestyle of young adults in the late 1980s. In the 1990s, the word became popular in the media, mainly associated with viewers of the North American television network MTV, at the height of pop-rock and grunge.
Other names for Generation X
This pessimistic view of Generation X has given rise to other names such as the Lost Generation or the Peter Pan Generation , alluding to the famous Disney character. This last qualifier also refers to the Peter Pan Syndrome or the inability of an adult to mature. The American psychologist Dan Kiley defined it as someone who does not know or cannot give up being a child in order to start acquiring responsibilities.
Characteristics of Generation X
Several studies have tried to determine characteristic features of members of Generation X, delimiting those born between 1955 and the mid-1980s
. Late parents
It is estimated thatThe average age of members of this generation to have their first child is 30 years old . This is due to several factors, such as the economic and labor independence of women, the decrease in the mortality rate or the increase in the standard of living. This trend is exacerbated in the millennial generation, who no longer see having children as a necessity.
Pioneers of new technologies
As we have pointed out before, Generation X has been the driving force behind the technological revolution, but they are not digital natives. We could cite some examples such as the birth of Napster, Facebook or Netflix, platforms and networks that have revolutionized society. Surprisingly, according to a study carried out by the University of Michigan, members of this generation dedicate their free time to culture and leisure in the open air.
They prefer the physical format
In the digital age, the physical format of some consumer goods has ceased to make sense. Some examples are CDs, DVDs or books, things that have practically become a collector’s fetish . Millennials and digital natives are experiencing the rise of the electronic format, centered on a single physical space: the smartphone. Similarly, the members of Generation Z will be users of streaming content, and YouTube or Netflix are the paradigms of this change.
It is often said that they are hyperactive and multitasking people, who try to combine work, studies, family and hobbies . They are also academically prepared and often overprepared people, which prevents them from having normal access to the labor market.
Engaged but unaware
Several studies show that Gen Xers are politically active and engaged (9 out of 10 report daily), but are unaware of some of the biggest issues. In this sense, the University of Michigan states that only 5% of this generation are concerned about climate change , while a worrying 10% say that climate change does not exist.
10 things you will remember if you are from Generation X
If you feel identified with this generation, let’s go with a string of things that will arouse your nostalgia:
- Nirvana’s Nevermind album and the death of Kurt Cobain .
- The fall of the Berlin wall.
- The rise of MTV and Madonna’s video clips.
- Home consoles like the Super Nintendo .
- The arrival of the modem and the Internet at home.
- The walkman to listen to your favorite albums.
- Home Alone with Macaulay Culkin .
- Michael Jordan ‘s dunks .
- Works with the Encarta Encyclopedia .
- Windows 95 and 98 (and the hours you spent browsing between folders).
What do you think differentiates you from millennials
? Do you remember something with special affection?
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STEPHEY, M.J. (2008) Gen-X: The Ignored Generation. TIME.
ARBOR, A. (2012) Generation X is surprisingly unconcerned about climate change. University of Michigan.