Generation X – An Introduction To Our Likes & Dislikes

In 1991, 28-year old author Douglas Coupland wrote a novel called Generation X: Tales of an Accelerated Culture. The phrase entered the current dialect shortly after the novel’s release. Coupland portrays a group of three friends who have escaped civilization for tranquil Palm Springs, California, telling each other stories while they toil in menial jobs. by these stories, the novel discloses the anguish felt by those born in the early 1960’s 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 awakening into the consciousness of its reality as a definite group but simultaneously being culturally eclipsed by the Baby Boomer Generation (Wikipedia, n.d.). The phrase Generation X defines an age group pointlessly searching for an identity that does not exist.

In demography, marketing, popular culture and the social sciences, the phrase Generation X classifies the generation closest after the Baby Boomers. According to William Strauss and Neil Howe in their book Generations, the lows and highs in cultural tendencies as opposed to rates of birth 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 dramatical change (Wikipedia, n.d.). The total number of people born into Generation X is now estimated to be at over 50 million people, surpassing the amount of Baby Boomers since 1980 (Mitchell, McLean & Turner, 2005).

This generation also has many other synonymous labels. Among them are ones that carry more benignly basic subtexts like “The MTV Generation,” or “Slackers.” The former implies a dull attention span for nothing more than flashy camera work with rapid cuts typical of those in music videos (Isaksen, 2002). The latter implies a generation with little goal popularized by the 1991 Richard Linklater movie “Slacker.” general generalizations of members of any generation will not precisely depict every single member of that generation. Many of the generational stereotypes of Generation X, often credited to them by Baby Boomers, are simply false. They are the most technologically savvy generation, being the first to grow up with television, the arrival of personal computers and video games. The stereotype stems from the arrival of MTV in 1981 that specifically catered to them. however in spite of of all the allure of Atari, Pacman and MTV, they are highly intelligent. According to enrollment rates in colleges and universities, Generation X is also the most learned generation in U.S. history. Since the start of this generation’s high school graduations in 1980, their high school graduates regularly enroll in higher education in record amounts (Mitchell, McLean & Turner, 2005). Also each generation has slackers who represent a dissident group and are not necessarily exclusive to this generation (Mitchell, McLean & Turner, 2005).

Anger and unrest are two definitive terms describing Generation X. Much of this is expressed by their choice in music. different rock music of so-called “grunge” bands like Alice In Chains, Nirvana and Pearl Jam characterize this generation. Likewise, the hip-hop music of artists like Dr. Dre, Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur also characterize this generation. A popular myth is that they are solely white. however this group is very different in ethnicity, race, religion, sexual arrangement, and position. 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 think are the consequence of careless behavior by past generations: AIDS, broken families, the ecosystem, homelessness, the national debt and poverty. however this generation developed in a time of relative calm in U.S. history. A single cohesive experience like World War II, Korea or Vietnam to bring them together might have prevented them from developing into a unified group (Mitchell, McLean & Turner, 2005). This generation experiences a combined distinction not from a single unifying event, but rather from mutual experiences and social conditions (Isaksen, 2002).

Generation X children were also known collectively as “Latch-meaningful Kids,” with television acting as a main babysitter or parental substitute. A great preponderance of this generation’s children lived in dual-income households and unlike past generations, many were forced to come home from school to fend for themselves. Additionally, they grew up during both the Ronald Reagan and George Bush Republican administrations of the 1980’s that limited social programs (Mitchell, McLean & Turner, 2005). As a direct consequence, they are realistic in their expectations by learned self-reliance at an early age. Based on a lifetime of exposure to advertising on television, this generation is very shrewd as a group of consumers. They view both the formation and government with a great degree of suspicion, opting to trust only themselves and their friends. They instinctively know when they are deliberately being manipulated and do not mindlessly absorb information represented to be accurate. This generation puts a greater value on honesty over hype (Mitchell, McLean & Turner, 2005).

Often times though Generation X’s degree of independence is mistaken for a callous level of egocentricity. However instead of identifying them as selfish, a more precise descriptive term would be highly independent. They place great emphasis on individualism (Wikipedia, n.d.). however already with their aversion to collectivism, this generation prides itself on the distinctiveness of its generation. They take great pride in their degree of varied, tolerance and inability to be labeled. by living unconventional lifestyles like interracial marriages and adoptions or living together before marriage, they peacefully practices acceptance while not attempting to impose their personal values upon others (Wikipedia, n.d.).

Many in Generation X have seen their parents cold heartedly downsized by companies after years of faithful service. In contrast to the past generations of their parents and grandparents, this generation’s employees do not expect to keep in one profession or business during their complete career. instead of pursue career stability, they anticipate looking for jobs in other places. This group has a inclination to look for work that gives better opportunities for skill development and individual fulfillment (Smith, 2003). These employees want the ability to be marketable in other places in the workforce by the education and growth of new learned abilities. Wanting vacation time, sick days and work leaves in addition to employee perks like day care, health care and stock investment plans, these workers are also assistance savvy. Ultimately however, they find individual fulfillment from their work as a greater motive over pay (Smith, 2003).

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