You’ve doubtless heard of Generation X by now? And if you haven’t, then let me explain.
If you were born between approximately the late 1960’s and the mid 1980’s then this label applies to you. It’s a term first popularized by Douglas Coupland, whose novel, “Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture,” was published in 1991. Lately it has seen something of a resurgence in the popular media.
You’ll know all about the Millennials, because apparently they’re now running the show. These young, bright, technical whizz-kids are also dubbed the ‘digital natives’ because they’ve pretty much grown up and come of age on the internet and a life lived via social media.
You definitely know all about the Boomers because they’re the ones currently enjoying a nice retirement, thanks very much, on a fat final salary pension, and probably holidaying abroad several times a year.
The Generation X-ers are the ones in the middle, the ‘sandwich’ generation who graduated into the world of work during the recession years of the early 1990’s, who are old enough to remember the long Thatcher reign, and the associated 3 million unemployed. They also benefitted from the housing boom and then the dot-com bust. They’re a generation of highs and lows. They’re my generation, and if you’re reading this, probably yours too.
We are the ‘sandwich’ generation for a number of reasons. We are quite literally stuck in the middle of a generational war. The Boomers ahead of us don’t have time for the Millennials, who they see as reckless and self-obsessed young things, shallow and only interested in the next ‘selfie’ opportunity. Certainly not responsible enough to take on the tough task of upholding a Nation’s values and work-ethic. Feckless and reckless.
The Millennials meanwhile, view the Boomers as a bunch of old people, way past their pre-internet sell-by date, who’ve pretty much slam-dunked the young folk into a lifetime of gloom, doom and debt in one selfish swoop. They’re living way too long, they’re 100% responsible for keeping house prices high, meaning young people can’t afford to buy. The list goes on.
But it’s ok, we Generation X-ers, now in our 40’s and 50’s, can save the day. Far from being ‘past it’ by the time we’re 40 as our Boomer parents were, we’re just getting started. We may be the last generation to remember being paid to go to University, but we are a generation who knows how to work hard, to make things happen. We are an entrepreneurial bunch, with stats showing the number of people over the age of 50 starting up their own business massively on the rise.
(Perhaps due in part to the fact that if you have guts enough to write ‘O’ Levels on your CV instead of GCSEs, you may have no choice but to start your own business if you want to pay the bills. Didn’t you know, ‘O’ Levels mark the demarcation line for immediate binning-off by the Millennials who are running the corporate recruitment show).
We most definitely owned the 1980’s and part of the 1990’s, these were our era. A time when Indie became the most talked-about musical genre, when Blur and Oasis bounced onto the scene and properly shook things up musically. We had hedonistic days of raves and drug-taking, with none of the cosseted, nanny-state concern over our health and wellbeing. We just lived it all and still managed to turn up for work on time, and not too terribly hungover.
We are still young enough to be enjoying the second half of our lives, safe in the knowledge that we understand the internet (unlike the Boomers who are largely clueless), and can take advantage of it’s opportunities without being suckered into the self-obsession of the Millennials living their lives in full-on Instagram-mode. We can read all about the latest health fads, and still be young enough to give them a go if we want to. True, we might not get great pensions when we retire (if that day ever comes), but at least we probably have enough equity in our property to not be totally and utterly screwed.
But most of all, we are adult enough to be responsible, whilst still being somewhat of a kid at heart. Middle aged in number perhaps, but not grey and faded as the young people would have us believe.
The inter-generational war has found its perfect peacemaker. Rest easy Millennials and Boomers, the Gen Xers are here to save the day.
Originally posted 2017-04-12 16:18:34.