X stands for the unknown in mathematics and that is how Gen X (full disclosure: I am a Gen Xer) gets perceived by the world. It’s not just that both surrounding generations (the baby boomers and the millenials) have a much larger population and thus get the spotlight more often. It’s also that practically no traits have been ascribed to Gen X as a whole.
Can’t Gen X make up its mind what it wants to be? I definitely think that this is the case. But there is much dithering because there is no concrete definition of what a Gen Xer is.
The baby boomers began to be born just after World War II. This generation is supposed to end sometime in the sixties. When that is, exactly, is undefined.
The baby bust happened sometime in the early to mid sixties. Sociologists are still duking it out about when exactly this event occurred. Gen X is the baby bust. So the lead Gen Xers are undefined. The lead baby boomers got followed everywhere. From overcrowded nurseries to overcrowded schools to overcrowded work places and overcrowded retirement homes.
But how can you follow the lead Gen Xers when you don’t even know who they are? Gen X has been said to start anywhere between 1960 to 1967. I wouldn’t know where the press should begin even if it wanted to.
The end of Gen X is firm. Very close to the end of 1982 the baby bust ended. So those born in 1983 to 2000 are the millenials. They used to be called Gen Y but since they have firm leaders the term millenials has taken over. They don’t want to just follow Gen X.
And the current crop of babies and kids is “Gen Z”. What they choose to name themselves is still up in the air. After all they are still under age. Both latter generations have firm starts so they have firm traits.
Gen X still gets thought of as wishy washy or the unknown that I mentioned at the top of this piece. I’ve seen articles about millenials that confidently lists their traits. In this respect they have already outdone Gen X in their visibility and seeming assertiveness.
Sociologists I call on you to do something simple : agree with each other. Gen X may have fallen to the way side simple because of its lesser population. But if a beginning is struck, perhaps Gen X will get one tiny article on some obscure blog site one day that outlines its traits. Then I can finally see what we are.
Until that time comes I’d like to change that X in Gen X into its Roman numeral or the perfect ten that I know we are. Take that, other generations.
And sociologists are the true ditherers in the generational saga.