Most sources agree Generation Xers were born between the mid-‘60s to early-‘80s. Currently, there are about 65.1 million Gen Xers in the United States, making up a little over 19% of the population. We earn the highest household incomes of any other generation. That’s pretty cool! However, we also hold more debt than other generations. That’s not surprising when you consider we’ve lived through three recessions. GenX voices are taking their rightful place in government. Even though Boomers hold the majority in Congress, Gen Xers are starting to close the gap with 144 seats in the House and 20 in the Senate as of February 2021.
Dates and statistics aren't the only ways to define a Generation Xer. Rather, our unique identity. One that not only reflects who we were growing up, but who we are now. Like all generations, our values and attitudes were formed by the music we listened to, the television we watched, the movies we loved, and the historical moments that rocked the country.
The nicknames assigned to Generation X reflect the social changes of our youth, our middle-child mentality, and the influence we hold today. We're called the latchkey kids ‘cause growing up, many of us were home alone while both parents worked. So, we've come to value our freedom and independence, and know what it means to share in responsibilities. Gen Xers are also known as the In-Between or Forgotten Middle Child generation ‘cause we’re outnumbered in the U.S. with Boomers at 69.6 million and Millennials at 73.2. For that matter, we’re also outnumbered by Gen Zs at 67.8 million. At this time in our lives, Gen Xers are the Sandwich Generation. Sandwiched between caring for our parents and grandparents, while supporting our Millennial and Gen Z kids and grandkids. Our influence has never been greater.
To borrow a phrase from our Millennial friends, you may identify as a Gen Xer if these four affirmations ring true to you.
1. Gen Xers For Sure Had the Best Music
The classic rock from the late '60s to early '90s will never be matched. Gen Xers were coming of age during a music revolution. Music from the ‘70s has made some of the most iconic soundtracks. We ushered in the launch of MTV in 1981. Gen Xers welcomed the synthesized sounds that influenced the music of the ‘80s. We welcomed country music into pop culture. Many of us grew up listening to the music of the ‘50s and early ‘60s thanks to our parents. These are just a few aspects that formed the soundtrack of our youth.
2. Our TV Was a Blend of Both Worlds
Gen Xers enjoyed the classic reruns, the best sitcoms, the greatest cartoons, variety shows, and television dramas. We grew up on reruns of I Love Lucy, Bewitched, Leave It To Beaver, and Gilligan’s Island. On weeknights, we had Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Diff’rent Strokes, and Three’s Company. Saturday mornings brought Scooby-Doo, Road Runner, Bugs Bunny, and Schoolhouse Rock. Remember this one?
I remember watching American Bandstand and Soul Train. We watched Hee Haw on Saturday nights with our parents. As teenagers, we had Mystery Science Theater, The A-Team, and The Dukes of Hazzard. And, of course, we had MTV!
3. Gen Xers Had Blockbuster Movies
And we had options! Movie night was just that—a night out. Some of us were lucky enough to experience drive-in theaters. I remember seeing Star Wars and Grease at the drive-in. As kids, our parents would drop us off for indoor matinees to see the latest Disney releases like Escape to Witch Mountain and Herbie the Love Bug. As teenagers, we had blockbusters like E.T., Jaws, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And oh yes, the Rocky Horror Picture Show was for sure my go-to excuse to miss curfew!
It's true that every generation thinks they had it better or worse—depending on what point they want to make at the moment. This clip with teacher Richard Vernon from The Breakfast Club echoes what every generation thinks of the younger generations—and you gotta love Carl’s response. Wait for it…
4. We Witnessed a Lot of History
Many of us were born following the cultural revolution of the ‘60s. The Beatles, miniskirts, the Vietnam War, and the Anti-War Movement were coming to an end. In the ‘70s, some of us may remember the Watergate Scandal and Nixon’s resignation, the capture of Ted Bundy, or the death of Elvis Presley. During the ‘80s, many of us witnessed the AIDS crisis, the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, and the Just Say No war on drugs. For all of us, the ‘90s brought, for sure, the Internet, tragedies like Columbine, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Waco Siege.
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