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Thread: Is it just me or has Generation X ceased to exist?

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    Is it just me or has Generation X ceased to exist?

    I never liked being a Gen Xer, mainly because the sole distinguishing characteristic of my generation is that we appeared to think the 70s were a great time. As someone who failed to see the fun in either the 70s or the 80s I've always identified more closely with the digital natives of Generation M. But it seems to me that, as the current generational conflict has split between "Boomers" and "Millennials", members of my generation seem to have migrated either upwards toward the boomers or downward toward the millennials, while poor generation Z, now old enough to vote, are being called Millennials.

    It seems fitting that a generation named for nothing would eventually fade into nothing after accomplishing very little apart from post-ironic art.
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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    I never liked being a Gen Xer, mainly because the sole distinguishing characteristic of my generation is that we appeared to think the 70s were a great time. As someone who failed to see the fun in either the 70s or the 80s I've always identified more closely with the digital natives of Generation M. But it seems to me that, as the current generational conflict has split between "Boomers" and "Millennials", members of my generation seem to have migrated either upwards toward the boomers or downward toward the millennials, while poor generation Z, now old enough to vote, are being called Millennials.

    It seems fitting that a generation named for nothing would eventually fade into nothing after accomplishing very little apart from post-ironic art.
    Well, the conventional cohort of Gen X are distinguishable by their aggregate social attitudes from the Boomers and the Millennials, so they still "exist" in that sense. But the boundary between generations is essentially randomly chosen, so if we drew the lines somewhere else, we could lump half of Gen X in with the tail of the Boomers, and half in with the early Millennials, and we'd still be able to discern a "generational" difference in social attitudes - because we're sorting a continuum into a series of contrived boxes. (And the label itself was always a pretty dumb and unhelpful one, recycled multiple times with reference to different groups of people, before Coupland made it his own.)

    Grant Hutchison

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    I agree with Grant that it is not a useful boxing exercise. That kind of group prejudice would be labelled unacceptable if it were aimed at race, gender, hair colour and so on. The boomers like me had economic consequences for public policy through sheer numbers because the population increased after WW2 but going on to attitudes and Personalities is a triumph of generalisation over individualism. Of course as a boomer I am an individualist.
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    I always understood the boomers to have been born between 1945 and 1960. Then it seemed to change to gen X, then millenials.
    I'm '66 so a little unclear where I belong. I definitely don't feel at all to blame for the things the millenials blame on the boomers as I was unable to vote until '84.

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    They haven't gone anywhere. They just became adults. With jobs, kids, houses, etc. How boring.
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    Heck, these days "millennials" are mostly soccer moms and dads.
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    Quote Originally Posted by headrush View Post
    I always understood the boomers to have been born between 1945 and 1960. Then it seemed to change to gen X, then millenials.
    I'm '66 so a little unclear where I belong. I definitely don't feel at all to blame for the things the millenials blame on the boomers as I was unable to vote until '84.
    The general convention among census and social research organizations is that the Boomer generation extends up to 1964, based on the demographic bulge in that time span. The Boomers were also involved in driving forward a lot of social changes that Millennials and Gen Zers currently enjoy, so I'm kind of unperturbed by the generational blame game.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    The general convention among census and social research organizations is that the Boomer generation extends up to 1964
    Woot. I'm in just under the wire.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    Woot. I'm in just under the wire.
    I'm not sure what counts as "under" and what as "over", in that metaphor.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Like every generation before and since, Boomers have driven good and bad changes. Remember that, with few exceptions, everyone in power today is a Boomer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    Remember that, with few exceptions, everyone in power today is a Boomer.
    I guess that depends on the specific usage of "in power", and the country you're talking about. Boomers have been a minority in the UK parliament for over a decade now. And in the same decade, we've had three years of a Boomer Prime Minister, six of a Gen Xer, and a short burst of a man on the cusp.

    But we've got a Queen who's a member of the so-called "Greatest Generation", parents of the Boomers.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I'm not sure what counts as "under" and what as "over", in that metaphor.

    Grant Hutchison
    '64. I say I'm a Boomer.

    To check, I read Coupland's Gen X - the quintessential Gen-X book - back in the day. It was so full of ennui and existentialism that I couldn't finish it. So I can't relate.

    Doesn't hurt that my wife is squarely a Boomer - sort of pushes me off the fence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    I read Coupland's Gen X - the quintessential Gen-X book - back in the day. It was so full of ennui and existentialism that I couldn't finish it. So I can't relate.
    I'm supposedly an X, but didn't find out until recently because I had never paid enough attention to this stuff to know what the numbers were. What I did know was that neither I nor anybody else I knew in my age range came anywhere near that description the old-timers kept trying to throw at us, so whatever "Generation X" meant, it certainly couldn't be us. It still seems weird to even use it in a sentence talking about myself at all now.

    So maybe part of the answer to the question about our disappearance is that those who were pushing that false image of us have finally dropped it and didn't have an alternative image of us ready to replace it with. We didn't stop existing, but the myth of us did.

    Thus, in the young/old conflict, the sides aren't determined by generational label. They're determined by which side of the conflict best describes the circumstances of your life, so there is no gap between age groups. I, for example, am younger than anybody who ever gets called a boomer, older than anybody who ever gets called a millennial, and firmly on one side of that conflict and not the other, because the way my life has worked fits what one side says and the other doesn't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I guess that depends on the specific usage of "in power", and the country you're talking about. Boomers have been a minority in the UK parliament for over a decade now. And in the same decade, we've had three years of a Boomer Prime Minister, six of a Gen Xer, and a short burst of a man on the cusp.

    But we've got a Queen who's a member of the so-called "Greatest Generation", parents of the Boomers.
    The Queen's one of my exceptions, yes. But most corporations are owned by Boomers. 53% of the US Congress is Boomers, with 8.6% Silent, and that's down, with those figures as of last year's election. Xi Jingping is a Boomer. Benjamin Netanyahu's a Boomer. Vladimir Putin's a Boomer. Angela Merkel's a Boomer. Narendra Modi's a Boomer. AMLO's a Boomer. Most of the US Presidential candidates right now are Boomers. It doesn't take much effort to discover how many Boomers there are controlling current policy, including those that directly contradict the positive social changes the X-ers and Millennials are enjoying. They are also the ones who shape the economy that is causing serious problems for us.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    Like every generation before and since, Boomers have driven good and bad changes. Remember that, with few exceptions, everyone in power today is a Boomer.
    Is this where I make some kind of cyclical “And then there’s the ones who’ve done good” joke about politicians being bad or would that be over the line for CQ?
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    A glance at the faces of the European Council members reveals that Gen Xers are taking over. And, as I say, the UK has been run by Gen Xers for a decade or more. I'm sure there are reasons for the remarkable persistence of Boomers in the administrations of other countries, and I've been know to speculate on the reasons for, and effects of, that - but I'm not going to do that here.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Sure. I'm just saying that "Boomers have done some good" is not selling much in a country where Boomers still make up most of the power structure and do things many younger people oppose, and in a world where most multinational corporations, including the worst environmental offenders, are Boomers. Jair Bolsonaro is a Boomer every bit as much as Elizabeth Warren, so you can say it no matter which side of the political argument you're on, too--though Bernie Sanders is Silent, surely about the only time someone will say that! (And I looked at birthdates, not faces, as faces aren't completely reliable for that.)
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    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    (And I looked at birthdates, not faces, as faces aren't completely reliable for that.)
    I looked at birth dates, too. On this occasion, there didn't seem to be any surprises. Boomers are pretty much all starting to show their age, or show their plastic surgery.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    Sure. I'm just saying that "Boomers have done some good" is not selling much in a country where Boomers still make up most of the power structure and do things many younger people oppose, and in a world where most multinational corporations, including the worst environmental offenders, are Boomers. Jair Bolsonaro is a Boomer every bit as much as Elizabeth Warren, so you can say it no matter which side of the political argument you're on, too--though Bernie Sanders is Silent, surely about the only time someone will say that! (And I looked at birthdates, not faces, as faces aren't completely reliable for that.)
    Boomers as teens said "Never trust anyone over 30!" And as soon as they got over 30...
    Last edited by Noclevername; 2019-Nov-16 at 05:16 PM.
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    For the record, I was born in 1969. So I think that makes me "Gen X" or the "Mtv Generation". I just tend to think of us as "folks my age" or thereabouts.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Boomers as teens said "Never trust anyone over 30!" And as soon as they got over 30...
    I think that's perhaps not confined to the Boomers. There is in fact a small book, the title of which I can't recall, filled with quotations from generation after generation of younger folk bemoaning the behaviour of their elders, and older folk predicting that civilization will come to an end with the new generation. It goes back to the Ancient Greeks.

    Grant Hutchison

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    The fairest takedown of youth by the old I have ever read came from Aristotle: "The young would rather perform noble deeds than useful ones."
    "Occam" is the name of the alien race that will enslave us all eventually. And they've got razors for hands. I don't know if that's true but it seems like the simplest answer."

    Stephen Colbert.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I think that's perhaps not confined to the Boomers. There is in fact a small book, the title of which I can't recall, filled with quotations from generation after generation of younger folk bemoaning the behaviour of their elders, and older folk predicting that civilization will come to an end with the new generation. It goes back to the Ancient Greeks.

    Grant Hutchison
    IIRC it's present in the first writing in cuneiform too. Literally the Oldest One In The Book.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    IIRC it's present in the first writing in cuneiform too. Literally the Oldest One In The Book.
    That’s interesting. Do you (or anybody else) have a reference to when it was used so long ago?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    That’s interesting. Do you (or anybody else) have a reference to when it was used so long ago?
    Hmm. I Googled "Sumerian literature generation gap" and some variants, got a few academic papers and books. First one is I think a translation from primary source.
    http://college.cengage.com/history/p..._gap_sumer.htm

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/985800
    https://www.jstor.org/stable/179349?...n_tab_contents
    https://books.google.com/books?id=Kl...ociety&f=false
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    I think the whole generational divide thing is fundamentally about power and wealth, not the attitudes of some supposedly selfish/lazy/over-sensitive cohort of people.
    I remember back in the 70s (hearts full of youth, hearts full of truth) my late-Boomer generation was pretty convinced that all that was required for the world to be a better place was for the Greatest Generation to retire or die, taking their homophobia, misogyny, racism and repressive attitudes to haircuts and sex with them.
    Unfortunately, when we all grew up, power and wealth largely fell into the hands of those of our generation whose main interests were power and wealth, and they realized that the status quo ante wasn't such a bad deal for them. As far as I can see, the same thing is happening with Gen X at the moment, and the Millennials are in the queue. The world seems to get a little better with each turn of the wheel, but not nearly to the extent that each youthful generation imagines it might or should.

    Grant Hutchison

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    It's definitely, for several reasons, as much about class as anything else. Hard to picture Mitch McConnell, say, as having been a hippie out preaching for peace and love. There are people who make a fundamental political shift as they age, but there are plenty more who have been more interested in themselves than anything else all along.
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    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

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    From a study about narcissim and how it changes as we age: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31670564

    From a generational breakdown, researchers noticed a trend when older generations judge Millennials and Gen Xers.
    “Interestingly, people often presume millennials are more entitled and narcissistic than previous generations, but there is a lot of research evidence showing that this simply is not the case,” Grijalva said. “It appears that older generations assume young people are more narcissistic because their own narcissism levels naturally declined over time — leaving them currently less narcissistic than young people — and they have forgotten how narcissistic they used to be when they were young.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    From a study about narcissim and how it changes as we age: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31670564
    Also, the current younger generations have more ability to publicly indulge their narcissism, so it's drawn to the attention of older people more frequently. The phenomenon of taking a posed selfie with your back to the beautiful view / exotic animal simply cries out public narcissism, whereas my generation was restricted to combing our hair a lot.

    I'm often moved, almost to tears, by the photographs of missing or murdered teenagers that appear on the news nowadays. It was bad enough when they were blurry scans cropped out of a snapshot of a family event. But now they all seem to have the same carefully cultivated head-tilt, dropped-jaw, raised-eyebrow, sideways-glance thing going on, which feels utterly wrong for a news item - like an intrusion into their private hopes and curated self-image.

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2019-Nov-19 at 10:22 PM.

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    The selfie is about as old as photography, though. Some of the first photographs of humans we have are self-portraits.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

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