Generation-speak: Whatever; Never Mind

From left: Tre Cool, Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt of Green Day speak on stage during the 30th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. (Photo by Kevin Kane/WireImage for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.)

It’s true, we’ve been grouping people together for … generations. That goes for the 17th century Puritans to the post-Civil War Progressives to the people who put in 9-to-5 or better yet 7-to-1 and 5-to-9 days today.

So forgive me, for I know not what I do; X marks the spot of my existence.

I am part of a cohort of people known in some circles as “Generation X” or “Gen X” if you’re “nasty.”

Please don’t confuse us Xers with those disciples of Professor X, better known as the X-Men. There are almost as many women as men in our demographic, so X-People, please. And while having some cool mutant powers definitely has its rebel-with-a-cause appeal, Generation X is a different type of outcast in the game of generational lumping.

We aren’t the “Lost Generation,” but we are sometimes called a “lost generation.” In fact, sometimes I think you’d need a map to No One Really Cares Lane to locate us. But we’re OK with that. We’re the loner, grunge, gangsta rap generation. 

Even with our tough, “Never Mind the Bollocks” exterior, we Xers aren’t without fears regarding the “gener-lutionary” food chain.

We sometimes seem more interested in the other generations with whom we cohabitate the workforce than our own. We don’t spend much time talking about our “Pac-Man”-loving, MTV music video era-adoring selves. We do discuss those optimistic, pension-having baby boomers and that mysterious, tech-dependent, multitasking, flexibility-seeking bunch lurking over our shoulders known as the #millennials or Gen Y. Fit that in a tweet!

We even spend time thinking about Generation Z, a generation that includes 3-year-olds in its demographic. Three. Year. Olds. By the way, methinks we’ll need to add letters to the alphabet if we’re going to keep up with this X, Y, Z pattern.

But enough about them; it’s time to talk about me and my generation.

According to research, we were born between 1965 and 1980, the early ’60s to early ’80s or between 1961 and 1981. In other words, we missed Woodstock or are too young to remember it, but we are old enough to dish out the dirt on Green Day’s appearance at Woodstock ’94.

Of course we can, because that was fun; we Gen Xers like to have fun. Truth be told, we were playing games en masse on portable electronics like this little “Donkey Kong” beauty from Coleco before any other generation. Our generation is so much fun that we laugh — or cover our eyes — in the face of retirement worries. Silly, aren’t we?

We’re also ambitious and willing to learn new skills. Having lived through the Great Recession and the dot-bomb era, we’re even willing to leave our employer if the right opportunity arises, but if we like a brand, we’re loyal to a fault. And you thought job-hopping was millennial territory.

We also know our way around technology, unlike those baby boomers who, well, invented the personal computer or those Silent Generation folks who invented the mouse and inkjet printing … not to mention the first computer itself.

The truth is we covet flexibility. Wait, wasn’t that a millennial thing?

Moving on …

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re really cynical. How could we not be? We grew up way back in the David Letterman era. After all, what do millennials have to be cynical about? Apparently lots, including the government, economy and angst-ridden baby boomers. I thought Generation X had dibs on angst.

Anyway …

We’re also nonconformist. You know, “Brat Pack” all the way. Those baby boomers on the other hand are … not conformist either — especially in their previous hippie, civil rights, anti-Vietnam War lives. OK, not every boomer was a hippie or protested, but it’s so much easier to group everyone together, isn’t it?

At least, unlike my generation, boomers are confident about retirement. Funny then that an Insured Retirement Institute survey found that “Boomers’ Confidence in Secure Retirement Sinks to Five-Year Low.”

Come to think of it, generation after generation we’re not so different after all. In other words, as Kurt Cobain once sang: “Whatever; never mind.

This article originally appeared in Diversity Executive's sister publication, Workforce.