Who is Gen X, and when were they born?
Meet Generation X: often overshadowed by Boomers and Millennials, but never to be underestimated. Sandwiched between two larger and louder generational cohorts, we Gen Xers have carved out our own unique identity, rich with resilience, innovation — and a dash of cynicism.
Born between 1965 and 1980, we’re the folks who grew up with rotary phones but adapted seamlessly to smartphones. We’ve weathered economic recessions, technological revolutions and societal shifts, all while maintaining our signature knack for resourcefulness. Dive in to get the full scoop on who we really are — and why you should care.
Our earliest moniker: “Latchkey kids”
We’re the Latchkey Generation, growing up at a time when social changes were all around us. Moms were heading off to work in unprecedented numbers, and divorce rates were hitting record highs.
Chances are higher for us than our parents to have been raised in a household with a working mom, or in a “broken home” — which is what society then termed families with divorced parents. This backdrop gave us lots of free time — sometimes for mischief — but also shaped us into the resourceful, independent adults we’ve become.
Slacker Generation? Hardly.
Far from slackers, many of us got our first job as soon as it was legally possible. We were teenagers in the ’80s and ’90s, after all — those high-waisted jeans and flannel shirts didn’t pay for themselves!
The label “Slacker Generation” was something others tried to stamp on us. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. We were still fresh into adulthood in the early ’90s, and any claims of us being slackers were severely premature. Many of us were working for low wages as teenagers — so the “slacker” label never really fit, did it?
In the midst of all this, we were also the MTV generation. Music videos became our collective digital campfire, and MTV was our conduit to pop culture, news and even politics.
When it comes to the workplace, we didn’t let economic downturns define us. Many of us went on to become entrepreneurs, leveraging the resourcefulness we learned in our latchkey days. We managed to adapt to massive technological changes and even pushed the envelope, leading in tech innovation and starting companies that have become household names.
Gen X as consumers
As consumers, we Gen Xers are a force to be reckoned with. Born in an era of changing technology, we’re just as comfortable flipping through a catalog as we are scrolling through an online store. Don’t let our practicality fool you; we’re brand loyalists when you win us over, but it takes more than a flashy ad to impress us. We read reviews, compare prices and think twice before hitting that buy button.
In an age when everyone’s shouting about the newest, shiniest thing, we know how to sift through the noise. We’re savvy, discerning and we hold significant purchasing power. Businesses would do well not to underestimate us. After all, we’re the ones who popularized the notion of voting with our wallets.
Despite our contributions and our sizable population — around 65 million of us in the U.S. alone — we often get overshadowed by Boomers and Millennials. Yet as of the early 2020s, we’ve got the most purchasing power and accumulated wealth per capita among the generations. It’s not just about consumer power, though; our influence runs deep and broad across multiple aspects of society.
Gen X in the workplace
In the modern workplace, we Gen Xers are the connective tissue between old-school ways and the new digital frontier. We’re not the rookies anymore, but we’re also not exclusively in the corner offices — yet. We’re often the ones in leadership roles, steering the ship, while also acting as the translators between Boomers and Millennials.
When it comes to getting things done, we’re the go-to people. We combine the work ethic we’ve inherited from our older colleagues with the kind of tech savvy that’s second nature to our younger counterparts. Bottom line: We’re the multi-tasking, problem-solving wizards of the workplace.
Lovin’ it: Gen X in relationships
In relationships, we Gen Xers are often seen as the pragmatic romantics. We grew up with the notion that love could be like a fairy tale, but we’ve also seen enough to know life isn’t always a rom-com. We value independence but appreciate a solid partnership. Many of us were kids when divorce rates peaked, so we don’t take commitment lightly.
We’re the generation that really brought the concept of “work-life balance” into popular lingo, and that applies to our relationships too. We love deeply but understand that a good relationship needs more than just love — it needs mutual respect, shared goals and a lot of hard work.
Moms & dads: Gen X as parents
As parents, we Gen Xers navigate a unique terrain. We’re the first generation to parent with the internet as our sidekick, but we still value some old-school approaches. While we aren’t as helicopter-like as some parents, we’re also not as hands-off as our own parents might have been.
And here’s an interesting twist — some of us were early adopters of the attachment parenting trend (more commonly known as gentle parenting these days). Many of us found a way to blend traditional parenting with more emotionally responsive approaches.
We’re the generation juggling careers, taking care of aging parents and raising kids, often without the support systems that were available to prior generations. Balancing all these roles requires resourcefulness, adaptability and a knack for multitasking.
Think of us as the multitool in the parenting utility belt: ready for anything and able to adapt on the fly — but also hopefully humble and willing to own any mistakes we made (pragmatically, we know: it’s impossible to be perfect).
And… Gen X as grandparents
Grandparents, can you believe it?! Yes, some of us Gen Xers have already entered that stage, and we’re bringing our own flavor to it. We’re the first generation of grandparents who can text and FaceTime as naturally as we can flip through a photo album.
We love spoiling our grandkids, but you won’t find us totally ditching our parenting philosophies; we’re still all about that balance between freedom and boundaries.
And because we’re the ever-resourceful generation, we’re quick to dive into new ways to connect and create memories. While we might not have the same traditional vibe as grandparents of the past, we bring a unique blend of tech-savvy and emotional intelligence to our role. Think of us as the “cool” grandparents — but don’t sell us short on wisdom and experience.
So, who is Gen X in a nutshell?
We’re pragmatic, resilient, and remarkably adaptable. Maybe a tad cynical, but hey, these are cynical times. We’ve navigated a world of rapid change with resourcefulness and ingenuity, all the while maintaining a healthy skepticism of authority. We’re Gen X — our presence and impact are undeniable.