Generation of 'X'cellence

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 4, 2003 | Go to article overview

Generation of 'X'cellence


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1976) may be the most misunderstood generation in American history. Taken from a book written in 1991 by Douglas Coupland by the same name, which described fictional characters who wanted to pull away from class and status labels in society in favor of their own individuality, the term Generation X itself evolved primarily as a result of stereotypes.

Having found pockets of America's youth that fit the description of the "intensely private" and "unpredictable" characters outlined in Mr. Coupland's book, the media dubbed them Generation X. Consequently, society came to typecast this generation (my generation) as unmotivated, cynical, unpromising introverts who could probably name any game in the Atari 2600 family but do little else.

To be sure, there were many societal dynamics that contributed to the stamp applied to Gen Xers. During our youth, our mothers increasingly joined the work force. Divorce rates also skyrocketed while we were growing up. Our parents, who were in large part the older generation of Baby Boomers, helped to form the "me society" of the 1980s, where they began to view their children and even each other as secondary to their own careers.

As a result, about 40 percent of us grew up in single-parent households. We often didn't have mom or dad around to remind us to do our homework after school (which may have contributed to our generation going on to set the record for highest college freshman dropout rate), so many of us got accustomed to spending our time watching late afternoon game shows or hanging out with "Donkey Kong."

Indeed, Gen Xers became known for spending more time watching TV than going to school. We were the earliest of latchkey kids. We formed the grunge movement and alternative rock, and became known as freeloaders who would rather spend seven years in college and live with the " 'rents" instead of getting out into the real world and finding a job. In fact, it has been said the only thing we have to show for our generation is that we have nothing to show for it.

But as Bob Dylan, an old fella from a prior generation, once said: the times they are a-changin'.

Gen Xers might have been forced to endure some lonely days after school, but it made us more independent. …

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