I am part of Generation X. My parents were born in 1946, the quintessential Baby Boomers. All my life I have heard about the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers and all they accomplished. Together they built the society we live in today.
And what a society it is.
My early years were defined by the Cold War. I was never sheltered from the truth. I knew that if there was a war that my proximity to a navy base was a blessing. It would be over quick. The threat of nuclear war was just background noise, a fact of life, a dark cloud that you learned to ignore.
What was scary to us was the use of resources. The country was going deeper and deeper into debt. Everyone knew that this meant economic hardships down the road. Forget counting on the government to help you in retirement like it would help our parents and grandparents. Social Security would be empty.
The oil crisis of the ‘70s made everyone realize that oil was not going to last forever. Three Mile Island and Chernobyl made us realize the risk of our nuclear future. As the environment was impacted, we worried about acid rain, polluted oceans, the shrinking Amazon, and growing Sahara. Debate global warming all you want, but do we need to keep putting poisons into the air every day?
When Columbia exploded, our hopes and dreams of escaping into space died.
This was the world that I entered as an adult. Those are the realities that forged Generation X. The world was a mess, getting worse, and it was going to be Generation X that would have to pick things up.
But we didn’t want the job yet.
Grunge was big because it showed how we viewed life. It was about surviving, day by day. It was angst. It was our release from the feeling of futility. There are songs out there that capture Generation X, but Grunge was Generation X.
As we moved about the world, we saw the previous generation as hypocrites. They talked a good talk about fixing the world, but that was just words from their youth that they knew but no longer understood. When you get down to it, everything was about them, not about the future.
When Generation X entered the world, we tried to fix what we saw but we were suppressed. Change was feared and we just added one more frustration about the future to our lives. We jumped around to find our niche, to find a place to make a difference, but those places were rare. We eventually adapted to the world and tried to take charge, playing the game by their rules. Still, all we ever heard about was the Baby Boomers and what would happen when they began to retire.
Hello? Generation X here. Did you realize we could hear what you were saying?
Then came the millennials. They were going to change everything. They were Internet natives and knew how to use technology to fix problems.
I was online before most millennials were potty trained. Generation X explored the Internet. We blazed the paths that the millennials then followed. Where is the respect?
Once again, Generation X is being over shadowed by another generation. The news is talking about how the millennials are going to change the world. People should listen to the millennials as they have fresh ideas.
Fresh ideas? Are you kidding me. A “leading” millenial recently said,
Yes, most things have been tried before. Just not with today’s technology.
I’m sorry. Are you trying to repeat past mistakes? Are you that unoriginal? Technology isn’t going to change the result unless you want to make bigger wars.
We need to use today’s technology to try new things to solve the old problems. Millennials are trying to build a better hammer. Generation X has the experience to know that what you really need is to change EVERYTHING. Not just one aspect or another. Old and new technology need to be combined to show the world how to fix the big picture.
We don’t need technology to make it easier to get a ride, find a place to stay, or locate the perfect mojito. We need to make the world a better place, not an easier one.
Everyone thinks millennials have all the answers. Surviving college with a smartphone in your hand doesn’t bestow wisdom.
Millennials have a slogan, You Only Live Once (YOLO). They use it as a reason to do crazy things. I hear YOLO and I think,
You are right, let’s not screw up the world for our kids the way it was screwed up for us.
Generation X is not a placeholder. We don’t exist to serve merely as a bridge between one generation and the next. We may not have a war to our name, but we are battle scarred. We are not that disaffected generation from Reality Bites anymore.
It is time people listened. It is time stop chasing the shiny toys that the millennials are bringing to the table. It is time to sit down, look at the problems we are facing, and fix them.
Generation X matters. It is time you listened.