Did you know Generation X: Tales For An Accelerated Culture is 30-years-old?
Douglas Coupland’s idea was to come up with a way to say we’re not Boomers. Turns out he didn’t have to bother … because nobody mistakes us for our elders, the Millennials behind us, or even our Zoomer kids.
So, while we tend to be forgotten by the news media, there’s an old chestnut they periodically dust off that goes something like this:
“Despite being at the prime of their careers and representing 60% of the workforce, Gen X is commonly overlooked and undervalued.”
And then, of course, there’s the inevitable laundry list of the football-yanking events of our Charlie Brown-esque existence: ’90s recession, dot-com bubble burst, The Great Recession, and COVID-19. (See our theme song by R.E.M. for everything else.)
And don’t get me started about the “we’ll never be able to retire” thing. Because the truth is, we’ve never marched to the beat of anyone else’s drum.
And we’re not about to start.
We Will Rock You
Throughout the pandemic, we got some good ink about how it was GenX’s time to shine. All that latchkey kid resilience and independent spirit finally paid off.
So, of course, our own “generational doula” Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters hosted the symbolic end of social distancing and return to joy playing to the first full-capacity, post-pandemic Madison Square Garden crowd. (Did you catch the not-at-all-odd show highlight Brian mentioned last week?)
Others of our generation were pandemic stand-outs, too. You’ve got market-maker/breaker Elon Musk. Then there’s democracy’s beard, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey. Or how about Oatly’s eccentric CEO, Toni Petersson.
The kids that wore the “Why be normal?” buttons in the ’80s continue to break societal and economic boundaries and run the show. That goes not only for marquee names but also for everyday entrepreneurs.
After all, the average age of a successful startup founder is 45 — and X currently marks that spot.
Oh Well, Whatever, Never Mind
Ok, fine, I’ll get started for a hot second on the “we’ll never be able to retire” thing.
Once and for all: good.
Studies repeatedly show the longer people work, the lower their mortality risk. That doesn’t mean toil ’til you keel over — research also says that’s a bad idea.
For us, a sometimes cynical, always pragmatic cohort, the ideal, then, is more about unretirement than anything else. Create income streams outside of traditional employment to live the life you want now, not in your hypothetical golden years.
Because in the end, we are living in an accelerated culture. And as a wise man once said:
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
Let’s give that a great big ohhhh yeaaah.
The pandemic’s negative—and possibly long-term—toll on Gen X (Digiday)
Douglas Coupland on Generation X at 30: ‘Generational trashing is eternal’ (The Guardian)