Generation X: Individualism, MTV, Watergate and Technology
If you often find yourself reminiscing on the glory days of MTV or recalling where you were when news of the Watergate Scandal broke, you are probably a part of Generation X.
Generation X consists of those who were born between 1965 and 1980. Another name for Generation X is the “Echo Boom Generation,” as many Gen Xers are children of the Baby Boomer generation.
Researchers have often associated Gen Xers with a lack of true identity according to MetLife’s study of Gen X. Metlife’s 2013 study stated, “This study has found some support for the portrayal of Gen X as a group without a clear identity. The two defining characteristic traits Gen Xers most cited were polarized opposites: ‘hard-working’ and ‘lazy.’”
While the identity of this generation may be unclear, if you’re a Gen Xer you may be able to identify with a few of these characteristics, influences and significant events below that have shaped Gen Xers.
Gen Xers saw the rise of humanitarian issues such as the AIDS epidemic and the environmental movement. A significant portion of Gen Xers were not raised in a nuclear family, but found themselves in blended families and being raised by divorced parents. They also watched the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush come and go.
“Everybody loved Reagan,” Carla Sumner, a Gen X speech-language pathologist at the Searcy Health Care Center Nursing Home in Searcy, Ark., said. “It was a good feeling in America during his term. You felt like the Reagans were just a part of your life.”
In pop culture, Gen Xers were the generation that influenced the rise of MTV and witnessed the launch of the music video. “When we talk about memories, we talk about music,” Sumner said. “We talk about the 80s music and growing up in the 90s and wearing leg warmers.”
Significant historical events during the development of those in Generation X include the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of the USSR, the Iranian Hostage Crisis and the Watergate Scandal.
Sumner vividly recalls additional international crises as her family lived in Austria as missionaries when she was growing up. “Major things happened while we were there,” Sumner said. “Chernobyl blew up and we could not play outside and we could not drink the milk because of the fallout. The Challenger blew up with the teacher on it, so that was major while we were there. And the Vienna airport was bombed by Gadhafi.”
Gen Xers are the first tech savvy generation. “I had a word processor at Harding University my senior year that you would type it in, and you would push return and that’s how I wrote all my papers,” Sumner said. “Now, I just look up something on my phone and then I print it wirelessly to the printer in our house, and then I go pick it up. It’s all right there.”
The phrase “emerging adulthood” was coined because of Gen Xers. Many Gen Xers tended not to be fully self-sufficient until their late 20s.
Gen Xers pursued higher levels of education and thus are more educated than any other generation before them.
Personality traits for Generation X are centered on individualism, independence and rising feelings of entitlement. “My parents’ generation was more appreciative of everything they had,” Sumner said. “They didn’t feel like they were entitled to anything. Then we come along and we’re in the middle, and then our kids are like, ‘You’re going to get that for me.’”
In the workforce the majority of Gen Xers are working full time. Married Gen X couples both tend to work full time and find a fairly even distribution of income between spouses.
By: Dane Roper, Cariloop Intern