I am sitting in a session with well-known generational consultant Chuck Underwood, who presents about "The Generational Imperative." He is telling newspaper publishers and owners at the Michigan Press Association annual convention what they should (maybe even need) to know about likely their most important demographic if newspapers are to be successful in coming years.
That demographic is commonly called Generation X, made up of those born from 1965 to 1981. I am solidly within that range, born in 1971. I am part of this generation, which also happens to have experienced a significant decline in numbers compared to previous generations like the Baby Boomers (born from 1946 to 1964). It creates what Underwood calls "a population trough."
Hmmmm..... I'm part of a trough. Pretty tough to take that as a compliment, but I get what he is saying.
Underwood went on to say I am part of a generation that is experiences the "most materially comfortable" and "most emotionally difficult" childhoods. It is difficult to generalize like this, but that is what we do with generations - and these are not surprising generalizations.
He went on to say Gen X is a "let down" to many in older generations, but at the same time we feel as though "adults let us down." The result is a set of core values that includes: Fierce independence and self reliance; skepticism and cynicism; disempowerment; disengagement; distance from older generations; marriage is disposable; and an "us-against-them" perspective.
I have had feelings of disappointment in my generation that closelly relates to many of these core values. I have asked: What has my generation done? What will we be remembered for?
I ask those things because so far I feel like we have achieved far too little. We are not involved enough in important social issues and political activism. I am equally part of the problem.
What is the solution?
I say we take on the challenge. We follow the leadership of the strong female generation we are a part of - raised on Title IX and led by incredible women who are a major area of positive accomplishment for our generation. Our women are smart, capable and leading incredible change in our society.
Let's continue to become a generation that will do great things. We aren't done yet.
Can we overcome social shortcomings in regard to gay rights like we have women rights? Can we be the generation that leads a turn-around in political leadership to one that is able to engage in strong debate and then make positive changes? Can we make positive change in other areas, based on what we have learned, seen and accepted as our reality?
I know we can.