My youngest son likes to poke fun of me. One of his favorite recent statements is that my generation—Generation X—messed everything up for future ones. He’s of course talking about global warming, the political divide that separates our country right now, our reliance on gas and oil, the anger between the races, etc., etc.
He’s generally pointing his finger at Generation X, the 82 million or so of us born between 1965 and 1980 and between the ages of 41 to 55 years old. When he gets on his soapbox, I like to remind that we’ve had it “tough,” sandwiched between the louder Baby Boomer, who were born between1944 and 1964, and the Millennials, who were born between 1981 and 1996. What do I mean?
We missed the Vietnam War and were well into adulthood by the time 9/11 happened, but we feared communism until the Berlin Wall eventually came down; got a close-up view of terrorism at the Munich Olympics; worried about Three Mile Island melting down; cried at the Challenger Disaster and President Reagan getting shot; felt helpless throughout the Iranian Hostage crisis; and watched U.S. soldiers free Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm.
On the home front, we took a stand for the environment in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdes accident. When it came to pop culture, we’re the generation that had to sit through our parents watching the Lawrence Welk Show and Hee Haw. We’d go through the head turning transition from Welk’s catchphrase “Wunnerful, wunnerful!” and his song introduction of “Ah one, and ah two, and ah” to “I’m a pickin, and I’m a grinnin.” We changed the course of business and life as we know it with the rise of the personal computers and Paid Time Off.
If that we’re not enough, we made independence, the use of technology, and work-life balance important parts of society. We became the slackers who changed the world. And one more thing, my generation gave us the smartphone app. Where would be without games on our phone to waste away our time.
Oh, I believe every generation has its pluses and minuses. We’re all more alike than we’d like to believe, but I still took pleasure reminding him that his generation is the most global, social, visual and technological generation in the history of mankind—more than 60% of their time is online—and yet can’t even pick up the phone and make a simple phone call!