Listen, Generation Y, we need to talk. I think maybe we got off on the wrong foot. It’s time for us to set a few things straight. Clearly, there are a few misconceptions between us and it’s time to clear the air.
Let’s start here, with the internet and the world of social media. You Gen Y kids are getting a bad rap.
I am always one to help out the underdog, and hey, if I can help out an underdog of a generation? Even better. Let me start by telling you a little about “ourselves,” alright? Personally, I define Gen X as people who spent their teens and early 20s in the 1990s. Most experts will tell you that it’s primarily made up of folks born between 1965 and 1980. Others will say the cutoff is 1976.
Me? I’m a Gen Xer who was born on the later end of that spectrum, so maybe I have a little bit of a unique perspective here. Here are a few things I think you need to know about Generation X.
We are the ‘unheard’ generation.
“While boomers insisted on being heard by the world, we [Xers] were a smaller generation [less than half the size of the boomer generation] who felt no one was listening to us,” says Forbes Magazine’s Rob Asghar . “We felt we had to fight” to have a voice, to make an impact, to earn a seat at the table of power.
Alright, let’s do this. You’d better sit down before you continue reading this – you might be shocked.
Listen up, younggins: you’re not so different from us.
Y’all act like you are soooo unique, so much different than everyone who came before you. And in a lot of ways, that’s true – but in all reality, you are JUST LIKE US.
It’s like when my 10-year-old asked me what it was like to live “in the old days.” While I laughed it off, it’s just proof of what you, Gen Y, are dealing with when it comes to understanding us Gen Xers – a simple lack of perspective. So lemme lay it out for you.
Gen X paved the way for you ungrateful brats.
(JK on the ungrateful brats thing!)But seriously, don’t you know who we ARE? Do you understand that the post-war Baby Boomers and the Me Generation were our parents? Some of us could even say we had hippie parents. HIPPIES, people!
It’s amazing we can even read, for crap’s sake! This is the generation that invented dropping out. Okay, I’m kidding. Mostly.
But seriously, the reason we are called Gen X is because they couldn’t really classify us as a solid group of any one thing, sort of…
I know you don’t want to hear this, but Gen X is exactly the reason you Gen Y people are able to reach the heights you are today. While it’s a running joke among some people, your generation probably has more young money than any before it, thanks in part to the internet that the Me Generation built, the Gen Xers helped to evolve and popularize and you Gen Y kids are now helping us to take it to the next level.
We’re kind of exclusive, comparatively speaking.
Did you know that Gen X is a smaller generation than the one before us and the one after? Yep. It’s true, and it’s most likely because many of us are children of those who were teens in the 70s and early 80s, and you know who those people are? They are the children of those who lived through the Depression. This means they are/were very selfless and often prone to living lives of sacrifice. Their children, who are the parents of Gen X, went a whole other way – that’s why they are the first “Me” generation.
Because their generation is more internally focused than the one before it, these “Me” types had kids later (which means they’re also some of your parents) and had, on average, less kids. They were also less likely to breastfeed us, on an unrelated note.
Because we were the children of these “me”-focused people, we spent less time with them than they spent with their parents (but, to be fair, we spend more time with our kids than we got out of them). Now, of course, these people are known as the sandwich generation – they’re still raising kids, and their parents are in need of their help as they enter their golden years.
Gen Xers are revolutionary, despite the fact that we’re somewhat unidentifiable as a whole.
Just like the beatnik and the hippie before us, Gen X broke new ground and changed the way our society works. We set the stage for Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter and selfies – hell, a lot of us take as many as you do. We just don’t share them as freely be cause we don’t want to admit we still want to be hot. Well, some of us, anyway.
Sure, we might have been initially called Gen X because of some of our supposedly lackadaisical attitudes and lack of apparent drive, but that’s because they didn’t understand us yet. They were still all “oh, those kids won’t amount to anything,” and all “oh, the world is in trouble!” (Sound familiar, Gen Y?)
We “get it” more than you think. And we don’t think you’re all a bunch of lames. For the most part, anyway. Which brings me to my next point.
We probably have a broader music palate than you.
See, a lot of us were raised by the teens and young adults of the 60s and 70s, so we have a great appreciation for their music. And we grew up in the 80s and 90s, so we love all of that too. And guess what, kids?
Many of us are also rocking out to the same shit you are right now. Because we are that progressive. Yeah, that’s right. Speaking of which…
Stop calling us old, please.
Just FYI, Gen Y, not all of us Gen Xers think the world is going to end when you’re in charge (and not all of us are “old enough” to be your parents – damn, why you gotta go THERE?).
Now, sure, there are a few crotchety types among us, don’t get me wrong, but the truth is that most of us are shocked when you call us old. We don’t believe we’re among the “middle aged,” and we certainly don’t feel like we’re old fogies (though our eyesight, hearing and bone integrity is beginning to fail a little, our brains are still sharp and we still wanna have fun).
Take me, for example. I have a whole group of Gen Y friends who I love like my own family. When I’m around them, I am aware that I’m older but we are friends on a soul level. The thing I love about Gen Y people is that they are often much more laid back, relaxed and confident in themselves. This makes for great friendships.
For me, the benefits are many. They help me stay up to date on things that matter in society from a different perspective than my own. Sometimes they make me feel old and wise, sometimes they make me feel young and awesome. I think it goes both ways – sometimes I help them feel more mature, and other times, I make them feel fabulously, cluelessly young.
We’re both okay with it.
Raising kids (especially asshole teenagers) is hard. Just you wait.
A lot of us Gen Xers are intentionally trying to parent our children in a way that is directly contrary to the way our parents raised us – and then there are those who are following the same traditions because they feel that it worked. Those of you who are our kids? Know this: we tried. We really did.
And now that a lot of you are parents, you’re still judging us. Your babies are still young, for the most part, and you’ve got a lot more control than you will in the future. I learned that hard way that, as it turns out, you don’t have much control when your kids reach a certain age. You can do all the right things, teach them the right ethics and offer all the opportunities in the world – but none of it matters unless the kid is receptive, interested and capable of personal/emotional/intellectual growth.
And unfortunately, some kids just can’t or won’t go to the level that’s necessary to get there. That shit is hard, Gen Y, especially in the late teen years, and I wish you luck when you get there – and here we are trying to parent kids in the first generation who will never know life without smartphones – holy schmolies, it’s rough out there. Ya feel me?
Chill out, we’re probably your biggest allies, considering.
Look here, Gen X and Gen Y are pages in the same book, so to speak. We’re even in the same chapter (some of us, on the same page). So don’t be like that. Hold our hands and we’ll hold yours. Let’s show those hippies what it’s really all about, this whole universal connection deal. (Ha, a generational joke! I know you’re not laughing but I’m leaving it in anyway. Us Gen Xers are stubborn like that.)
Sure, Gen Y is the group most commonly associated with things like using the internet as a social space, owning startups and freelancing their lives away – but guess what, my friends? We were doing it first and we’re still out there doing it – a lot of us, anyway. So hey, why don’t we all just work together on this whole life thing? We’ll probably see each other at the tweet-chat anyway – and we’re both parents of Generation Z, so we might as well see what we can do about THAT whole deal, am I right?