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Gen-X News: Coping With Middle Age, The Oregon Trail

The hallmark of this blog has always been an unfolding of the Generation X narrative. Part of my intention is to maintain a tiny space on the Internet where evidence of Gen X society can be preserved — at least for as long as the links remain unbroken. This is a way to give voice to a culture that was shaped during our youth and one that continues to be shaped today through midlife crisis and middle age. You can follow the category link Gen X In the News to find nearly a decade of stories.

It makes me squirmy to publish the classic snark and angst of Xers, but these are the characteristics of my generation. I think they are the consequences of childhood neglect that led to adult depression and apathy boiling over.

My mantra for dealing with these things comes from the Old Testament Book of Joel. This is more than poetry for me. It is my hope. “Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust…”


Miranda Sawyer will present a talk about Generation X at the Bristol Festival of Ideas next month. Sawyer is a contributing writer to The Observer, a British newspaper that publishes on Sunday. The title of her talk is Fear of Forty – How Generation X is Coping (or not) with Middle Age. Basically, what do you do when your “youthful passions fail to survive the trials of adulthood.”

Sawyer will explain how the cliché of the midlife crisis is changing. Instead of buying sports cars, Xers are buying top-of-the-line bicycles. Instead of settling down, they’re turning in their resignations and running marathons. Anything to quash that nightmarish idea that we’ve done it – as in life – all wrong and it’s too late to change. What do you do

Gen Xers Turning 50

50 Celebrities Turning 50 In 2015 (CNN)
Middle age now lasts until 74 as baby boomers refuse to grow old (The Telegraph)
Marco Rubio wants to put Generation X in the White House (Washington Post)
Millennials Are Boring Suburbanites Just Like Their Parents (The Atlantic)
As a millennial, how can I understand and work with a Gen X-er? (Fortune)
The Oregon Trail Generation: Life Before and After Mainstream Tech (Social Media Week)

Generation X tweets

Forever: Maybe Not the Word You Want? Why Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder did not take Gothic romance too far (Histories of Things To Come)

Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder in love

The subreddit, Gen X, asks, “What was it like being 20-something in the 90s? Easy for me to explain. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get a federal job. The RIFs (Reductions in Force) made it impossible. I worked on a military base as a contractor for six years. I was like an employee, but had none of the benefits. I loved it, but it was insane and so at 27, I finally moved on. My favorite answer among the 200 comments is “Meh. Okay I guess.”

Check out an article about a new documentary about Kurt Cobain, Montage of Heck. It includes the official trailer. (PaperMag)

Looks like the balance of power will shift away from Quebec Baby Boomers in the next election. The title of this news story is Revenge of Generation X: The decline of boomers announced a possible challenge to the welfare state.

What happens when Generation X becomes too old to make a living? (Reddit Discussion)

So, we’re finding that work-life balance is possibly an allusion. Check out Bad balance? Families struggle with work-life fit: What Gen X thinks about work life balance

Despite Our 15-Year Age Gap, My Husband and I Are Both Gen-X (The Mid: Life In The Messy Middle)

Polaroids that Never Faded

Retirement Mistakes Gen-Xers Are Making

Generation X- The generational middle child’s turn in the spotlight INFOGRAPHIC from The Futures Company

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Brett

    1. Anne Radcliffe stole my joke:

    OK, probably a million people made that joke, but it’s the internet — truth is irrelevant.

    2. I think you meant to type that the work-life balance was an “illusion,” with an “i.” Unless you were suggesting that the inability to create such a balance alluded to something else?

    3. What happens when Gen X gets too old to make a living? We turn into Boomers.

  2. TamB

    Thanks for the mention of the Winona-Johnny post! Some great links here, will check.

    • TamB

      I should add that I have noticed that Gen X is part of a deep transformation of white collar professions on social media. I think you’ve talked about civic media a fair amount, but I just discovered the hashtags #postac and #altac on twitter – new paths being followed PhDs who are coming out of an imploding Ivory Tower and are moving into the Knowledge economy. I think their experiences are reflected in other professions fundraising/PR/marketing/publishing; accounting; law; teaching; arts; medicine and so on. Boomers captured the last bit of ‘high ground’ in the old system. Xers either are on that high ground or in the shifting sands below – depending on age and what happened to them through the recession. The people in the shifting sands, i.e. innovators, look like they’re in a precarious position now, but in fact they will probably come out better in the long term – this relates to your link about retirement planning.

      Articles like the retirement article do not account for the fact that jobs and families no longer operate the way they once did. The economy has transformed. So have culture and society. You talk about parenting a lot here, as part of your personal experience. But that does not reflect the general GenX generational landscape. The Boomers’ sexual revolution was necessary in some respects, especially the emancipation of women, but Boomer social policies were paid for by Gen Xers. The statistics on that are horrific. 43 per cent of educated Gen X women are unmarried and childless.

      I would love to see comment here on that tragic reality.

      This is heartbreaking and it has *not* been about choosing career over family – it is a result of being fed a load of BS Boomer messages about social revolution and emancipation, while also operating in a Boomer-dominated real world that makes financial security nearly impossible and emotional balance difficult. The problem is the Boomers’ my-way-or-the-highway myopia; they made certain choices, came up with certain ideas, ideologies, solutions they decided as the only possible way to solve problems they encountered. They do not (still!) consider alternatives.

      This is why there is a violent backlash in men’s rights movements. Men are so angry and do not know where to turn. The number of Gen X men who are unmarried and childless is 32 per cent. This is a disaster.

      This has been labeled as Gen X opting out with their typical negativity – it was *not* about ‘opting out.’ It was about trying to survive in a devastated landscape after the party was over, when values had been turned upside down and discarded, babies thrown out with the bathwater, radicalization adopted for the sake of radicalization, with no regard for social damage or consequences.

      Gen X is the echo on the other side of the Boomers’ mirror. Not perceived, labeled from the outside, *we* paid and pay the real costs of Boomers’ wild-eyed experiments, while they cynically reap the benefits. Xers’ internal experience is almost never grasped by Boomers or Millennials with sympathetic imagination. I also feel that the Silent Generation is neglected. Both gens developed very different answers to modern change. Because Boomers are so self-centred and only perceive their linear narrative in history in which they are the heroic stars, these are ‘alternate histories’ to the monolithic late 60s

      But the alternatives do exist. We need to rewrite history from 1945 forward and tell the whole truth about it. It did not converge at a bottle neck in 1969, after which there was nothing but a post-1969 reality. What about 1961? 1989? I wrote a blog post about how the Silent Generation came up with social alternatives in the early 60s that Boomers simply take as precursors to their own youth movement. In fact, many Silent Gen had a very different path and proposed other solutions for economic and social improvements. The post was called ‘The Silent Generation’s Separate Peace.’

      This was based on my experience of being a Gen Xer who is the child of Silent Gen, not Boomer parents, so I saw what the Silent Generation actually accomplished. Just because it isn’t discussed in the media, doesn’t mean the legacy of the Silent Generation didn’t happen. And if you talk to them, you find out they don’t think much of Boomers, either.

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