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Generation X defies definition

by Jennifer Jochim, Outpost Contributor

In this package:


Myths and realities

Facts and figures

 
Generation X can technically be defined as the generation following the Baby Boomers. Xers were born between 1965 and 1980, 1961 and 1981, 1964 and 1979, 1963 and 1979, 1965 and 1975 or since the mid-1960s, depending on which source you use. For practical purposes we will say that Generation X was born between 1965 and 1980, now ranging in age from 17-32 and usually judged by characteristics assigned to them by the media.

Generation Xers were brought up on television, Atari 2600s and personal computers. They are the generation that was raised in the 1970s and 1980s, and saw this country undergo a selfish phase that they do not want to repeat.

"Generation X grew up in the 'me generation' of the 1980s, and now they are able to see that it is not all it is cracked up to be," said Jackie Shelton, 31, vice president of Minor Advertising in Reno.

David Bever takes time from studies to play video basketball. Photo by Arthur Pines.

The term Generation X came from a book written in 1991 by Douglas Coupland by the same name. It is a fictional book about three strangers who decide to distance themselves from society to get a better sense of who they are. He describes the characters as "underemployed, overeducated, intensely private and unpredictable."

Coupland took his book's title from another book "Class," by Paul Fussell. Fussell used "X" to describe a group of people who want to pull away from class, status and money in society. Because the characters in Coupland's book fit that description, he decided on the title "Generation X."

The media found elements of Coupland's characters' lives in America's youth and labeled them Generation X. This stereotypical definition leads society to believe that Generation X is made up of cynical, hopeless, frustrated and unmotivated slackers who wear grunge clothing, listen to alternative music and still live at home because they cannot get real jobs. It is a label that has stuck, stereotypes and all.

copyright 6/1/97 Nevada Outpost http://www.jour.unr.edu/outpost


 

Related sites:

Gen X Definitions
Generation X Coalition Inc.
Douglas Coupland Site (Official)
Articles by Douglas Coupland