Does Generation X Suffer From Middle Child Syndrome?
Like their namesake suggests, Gen Xers are less distinct than other generations.
Beginning in the 20th century (and maybe before), generational identities became a very effective way to divide people up in order to better sell us things. As a member of Generation X, however, I have a gripe with the pulse takers, population counters, and marketing folks who keep squeezing us out of the frame. Unlike the materialistic, slacker, disenfranchised stereotype associated with youth in the 1970s and 1980s, Generation X has grown up to be independent thinkers who are highly educated, active, balanced, and happy.
At the same time, I understand why it’s easy to overlook the roughly 80 million members of our MTV generation.
In a family with three kids, the first born is typically an over-achiever, while the younger sibling is the ‘baby’ of a family who gets away with more and is the most looked-after. Middle-child syndrome starts when the middle child is squeezed between these two and has trouble finding his ‘niche’ in the family.
On a different scale, Gen Xers are book-ended by two much larger generations – the Baby Boomers and the Millennials – who are strikingly different from one another. And in most of the ways we take stock of generations – racial and ethnic makeup; political, social and religious values; economic and educational circumstances; technology usage – Gen Xers serve as a convenient bridge between these two noisy demographic behemoths.
The charts below tell the tale.