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Identity Crisis: GenX? Or Baby Boomer?

Posted by Kathi Chenoweth on June 2, 2008

My dad sent me an article the other day. My dad is famous for mailing me newspaper clippings from his local Arizona paper.

The article is titled “GenX is taking over – with rules of its own” (written by Patricia Bathurst). With a subheading: “It’s time for those born between 1965 and 1980 to step up at workplace”. Apparently Dad thinks I am GenX…., that got me thinking… I have never identified myself that way.

GenX “dislike authority and rigid requirements”. This really doesn’t sound like me…I am all about structure and organization. I can’t help but feel a little disconcerted, maybe even insulted, that my father is accusing me of being GenX! Does my own father not even know who I am?!?

So then I dug into the details I’ve been avoiding. Well, in reality I barely missed being a Baby Boomer –by 33 days. I was born 2/2/1965 – the very beginning of GenX! In fact, half of the kids in my class at school would’ve been Baby Boomers, including my best friend born in Nov 1964. And what? The January and February babies were leading the new wave? I hardly think so. At the end of the day, we all sat down to watch the Brady Bunch no matter which group we belonged to.

GenX also apparently has no corporate allegiance. This can’t be me. I’ve just completed fifteen years at Oracle (and PeopleSoft before that). This is only my second job since college and I’ve been out of college a loooong time (you have to do the math yourself on that one).

The article also identifies GenX as developing career “webs” versus “paths” and tending more towards lateral moves, new opportunities versus traditional climbing of the corporate ladder. OK, well, that does sound more like me. I break out in hives whenever I feel that someone is going to ask me for my five year plan. Plan? I don’t have a plan. I just want to do something interesting and challenging. It’s worked out pretty well so far. This might also have to do with my lack of navigational skills.

And somehow GenX was the first wave of technical revolution. I’m sorry I must’ve been outside playing Kick the Can when that happened because I sure didn’t notice it! Well all right. We did get a microwave in the late 70’s. And later a VCR. It didn’t feel like a revolution….

So, I don’t know, I guess I’m a mixture of both. I used technology to find shoes and my husband, but I still cut articles out of the newspaper and show them to friends. I take after my dad (also not a Baby Boomer) that way. I didn’t get a CD player until 1995, an iPod only last fall.

I’m curious how others view their generational “labels”. What do you think? Do you feel like your label (Baby Boomer, GenX, GenY, Millennial) defines you?

7 Responses to “Identity Crisis: GenX? Or Baby Boomer?”

  1. Meg Bear said

    I have a theory about “generations” and “decades”. When we think of “the 80’s” we think of big hair, bright dressing, etc. Yet we all know that Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” came in 1980, personally I think this is a pretty “70’s” song myself.

    I’m guessing the same is true for those who straddle generation divides. It takes a few years to get transitioned into the different generations. As a fellow member of the Brady Bunch generation, I agree TV sitcoms might be the best identifier of common experiences, at least in the US.

  2. Ken Klaus said

    Kathi, I’m totally with you on this one. My values are more closely aligned with the baby boomer than the GenX crowd – though I have developed an affinity for high tech gadgets. I guess being a nerd / geek transcends the generation gap, which means that while I appreciate the Brady Bunch, Star Trek will always be my first love! Cheers! -Ken

  3. Gary said

    Generational labels are only slightly more reliable than horoscopes. They both (partly) assume that personality traits are fixed at birth. There’s bound to be some correlations between people born around the same time. Some of that will be based on shared experiences, some of that will be because they are at the same points in their lives (eg going from school to work, marriage, children, and now even some of those early Gen X’ers will be at the point when their own kids are leaving school/home).
    “somehow GenX was the first wave of technical revolution”. A lot of technical innovation happened during/after the war. The baby boomers had their own technical revolution (come on, they were the era that grew up with TV and the space race!) Every generation has probably thought that their technical revolution was THE biggest. But a lot of technology goes through a ‘beta’ phase, when it is still being developed and a there’s a good potential to get in at the early phases to ‘tinker’. My father’s generation played with crystal radio sets. Many of my peers would write simple programs in BASIC (or assembler for the techies) for the early home computers. My nephews set up MySpace pages. Maybe my own kids will be genetically re-engineering the dodo in ten years times.

  4. Kathi Chenoweth said

    Gary- you make some good points. How ironic is it that I don’t even think of the television as a technological revolution? It was just always there. So maybe I am more GenX than I think, I am?

  5. Interesting observations. I’m a Baby Boomer, born in the early 50s, so mnot straddling any of the generational divides.

    I DO identify with being a Baby Boomer, but I don’t use my “label” to keep me from interacting with those older or younger than I.

    I guess my theory is we’re all in this world together, and it’s best if we can all learn to “get along!”


  6. […] television, and in doing that,  it changed my expectations of television.  If it’s true that television has more to do with our generational divide than date of birth, we should expect that we haven’t seen the real result of the impact of Tivo yet.  […]

  7. Peter Piper said

    Is there anyone else who feels insulted by the label “Baby Boomer”?

    It is offensive to tar an entire generation with the sexual habits of their elders.

    Why do we allow the media to continue to insult us this way?

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