Gen-X, short for Generation X, is the generation of people born sometime between the early sixties and the late seventies / early eighties (delineation varies depending on the source). Those were the teens and/or twentysomethings in the '80s and '90s, and are right now adults aged somewhere between 30 and 45.
The term was said to have been coined in 1964 by Charles Hamblett in a book made with Jane Deverson, in which the latter tells about previously made then-shocking discoveries on her research on youth: the up-and-coming generation was one of young men and women who slept around, disrespected their parents, doubted God, and challenged authority.
Yup, that' us. Also known as Baby Busters and the MTV Generation.
We were called X because we were said to be unknowns - fathered (and abandoned) by the overbearing, conservative Silent Generation and overshadowed by the strong-willed Baby Boomers who came before us. We were perceived by social researchers as having confused identity, and were predicted by naysayers (and wrongly so) to be going nowhere. We were stereotyped as mallrats and slackers because we were raised at a time of relative peace and technological advancements that made life easier.
We are the middle children of history, with no purpose or place. We have no great war, or great depression. The great war is a spiritual war. The great depression is our lives. We were raised by television to believe that we'd be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars -- but we won't. And we're learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed-off.
- Chuck Palahniuk / FIGHT CLUB
But because we didn't have very attentive parents or good role models - and though have been known to resist structure and defy authority - we have displayed remarkable resilience, independence and flexibility. Our perceived "weakness" proved to be the strength that now makes us bold, bull-headed and career-oriented - qualities by which we make our mark in the world today.
A few things that shaped our worldview:
- The economic instability of the late 70s to early 80s
- Cable television
- The personal computer
- Video games and consoles
- The discovery of the ozone hole and global warming
- The information superhighway now known as the internet.
- George Lucas and Steven Spielberg (i.e., Star Wars and E.T.)
- Jim Henson's Muppets
- John Hughes
- The evolutions of Michael Jackson and Madonna
- The fairy-tale-turned-nightmare romance of Prince Charles and Lady Di.
- The scandalous affair of Bill Clinton
- Two Gulf Wars and two George Bushes
- Billy Idol (our bard) and Kurt Cobain (our Byron)
- The Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy
- The Chernobyl disaster
- The AIDS epidemic
- New Wave, glam, metal and grunge
Gen-X contributions to society:
- Increased environmental awareness and environmentalism
- You Tube and MySpace (and thus, the narcissicm of Generations Y and F)
- The blogosphere
- Dot-com businesses
- Gay rights awareness
- Making tattoos, body piercings and ratty clothes socially acceptable
- Honest, unpretentious art and fashion (e.g., grunge, geek chic, heroin chic)
- Honest, unpretentious music (e.g., punk, shock rock, gangsta rap)
- Experimental musical hybrids (e.g., punk-ska, rap metal, nu metal)
- The popularization of "angst"
- Coffee shop meetings
- "Thirty is the new twenty"
- Being the last generation that knows how to properly use a library