Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Are You a Generation Xer?

I am often confused as to which generation I belong to (not that I care that much) but one constantly hears different dates for the Baby Boomers vs. Generation X. I was born in the early 60's which could put me in either camp but depending on what dumb (or smart) thing each group is doing at the moment, I align myself with whoever seems the least ridiculous. But most of the time, I feel like I fell through the cracks and belong to neither group (I guess this makes me a "tweener"). I got to thinking about all this after skimming over a new book, X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking.

The premise of the book is as follows:

While the pathologically nostalgic baby boomers are busy popping Viagra and clinging to their endless squat in the spotlight, and while their self-obsessed, lip-synching progeny, the millennials, are caught up in a perpetual hustle to take that spotlight away, the generation that is doing the hard, quiet work of keeping America from sucking is the one that still gets pegged as a bunch of slackers: Generation X.

Uh, okay. That sounds good, being part of some generation that is the backbone of America (don't they all feel that way?) But anyway, the purpose of this post is to find out if you, dear reader, are a part of Generation X. Apparently, there is much disagreement on where the Baby Boom ends and Generation X begins. Some dates given for Generation X are 1965-78 or 1960-80 or 1961-81 or 1963-81 or 1960-1977. The author of the book, Jeff Gordinier, says that 1960-1977 makes the most sense to him because this group scores highest on the all-important Generation X Aptitude Test (GXAT). Are you a Generation Xer? Take this in-depth test--I set it up as a poll--and see:

Do you want to change the world?
Yes, and I'm proud to say we did it, man. We changed the world. Just look around you!
Yes, I promise to get back to doing that just as soon as interest rates return to where they should.
Omigod, omigod, changing the world and helping people is, like, totally important to me!
The way you phrase that question is so fucking cheesy and absurd, I don't want to continue. free polls

Let me know which answer you think makes you part of Generation X (it's pretty obvious).

Update: So, according to the poll (92% last I looked) the majority of us on the Dr. Helen blog are either Generation Xers, contrarians, or both. I am betting on the contrarian theory.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, I'm an Xer. The last response is the correct response.

8:44 AM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...


Same here and yes, it's response D, the only one that makes sense.

9:05 AM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

I'm not a fan of the bad language, but as an Xer, D is the only one that makes sense.

I'm glad that people think of us as rational.

9:08 AM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I'm a Boomer and chose the last response also. Maybe it's my youngest sister's ifluence.

9:54 AM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Thom said...

Born in 1970. In my opinion, A would make me a yuppie, B would be Generation Y, C would be the Millenials, and D would be Gen X.

10:35 AM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Peregrine John said...

That's pretty funny.
William Strauss and Neil Howe, who wrote Generations, in which they put Gen X (the 13th Gen.) at 1961 to 1981 based on cultural trends rather than birth rates.
Read another book several years ago by Howe as well, The 13th Generation, which was pretty good if rather hard on the boomers.

10:54 AM, March 12, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1972 and D. Yup, swearing and all, that's totally me.

11:27 AM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Jerub-Baal said...

Well, I was born in 1959, which makes me a Boomer by just about everyones tally (and I had an older brother, no younger family influences here)...

... and yes, the answer is D.

There are a few of us old enough to remember Studebakers but who still recognize how self-absorbed and foolish the culture of our generation is...

11:32 AM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Mike said...

It's not fair to place all of the blame on the boomers. After all, they got to be the way they are because of the "Greatest Generation." Who dropped the ball in raising that generation? The "Greatest Generation," that's who. They were the ones that bought into all of those crackpot theories on how to raise a child, allowed the universities to be overrun by communists, and generally let things cultural fall apart around them.

But heaven forbid we call the "Greatest Generation" the "Zero Sum Game Generation" or something equivalent to show how winning World War II and handling the Great Depression does not win them overriding kudos for unleashing quite possibly the worst generation in American history onto future generations. This is why I'm inclined to say "that's nice, go screw yourself" to suggestions that we honor this generation. It's forgivable to fall asleep at the wheel and take out your family. It's another thing to let your toddler take over control, and run the family car off the cliff which is what the "Greatest Generation" allowed the boomers to do this country.

11:38 AM, March 12, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1960. I think that's sort of on the cusp. Whatever Boomer characteristics I inherited, a desire to change the world and a sense of generational mission are not among them. That's why Hills and I totally do not connect. To me, she sounds like a fanatic.

I'm not sure D. really does it for me, though. I wouldn't criticize the phrasing of the question. I'd criticize the entire mental and emotional outlook summarized in the words "change the world." The attitude is an empty cliche now; a warm fuzzy that immature people cling to when they notice that the world is know...yucky.

By the way, I hope everyone's read this.

11:47 AM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Mad William Flint said...

Yep. D all the way. Of course I did have a flash of "oh god, does that make me an effing hipster?"

11:47 AM, March 12, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

miket - I totally agree. It's also weird how some GG's (my old man, for one) completely fail to understand why their Boomer children are not like them.

11:53 AM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Jason said...

'72, smack in the middle by any measure, and D is clearly correct. And anyone who calls us slackers on the internet, will have their connection throttled, their email tossed into the spam filter, and their web site redirected to And good luck finding anyone to fix it at 3 AM. We slackers need our sleep.

12:02 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Mercurior said...

born in 73, and D. LOL jason. so true, so true..

12:04 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...


The book I mentioned said that Gen-X is as much an attitude as a time frame and if you answered D, that makes you part of Gen-X even if you are eighty. And born in 1959? Close enough, it seems to me.

12:15 PM, March 12, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm also thinking that a lot of the supposed "Gen-X" characteristics were first identified when the people in question were in their teens and early 20s. Not the most stable time of life and probably not the best age range to use when predicting future behavior and attitudes. Do you think this has anything to do with which traits we assign to this generation?

12:32 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger jay c said...

I was born in 70, and I consider myself to be at the very oldest edge of Gen X. 60's is definitely out, but not baby boomers either.

1:08 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Maxine Weiss said...

You shouldn't use profanity.

And 'd' isn't the correct answer.

Generation X was the generation that came of age during the Reagan Revolution. President Reagan is to Generation X , what Kennedy was to the Baby Boomers.

And, Reagan wouldn't use profanity.

1:42 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Larry J said...

Born in 1957, the peak year of the Baby Boom. However, while I may be part of the boomers, I'm as sick of hearing about them as anyone else. If I see yet another show about the Summer of Love or 1968, I think I'll puke. There's an expression the Hugh Hewett used as a book title, "In but not of" or something like that. That describes me as part of the boomers.

D is my answer as well. Those people who want to change the world need to remember that change is not a synonym of improvement. Not all change is good or desirable even if it does make for good political demogogery.

1:54 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

By all counts, I am a millennial (1982). Ho does the author justify being so contemptuous of an entire generation that is not "doing the hard, quiet work of keeping America from sucking", when the ages range from 28ish to 10ish?

2:31 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

maxine -

Sometimes profanity is appropriate.

3:34 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Mercurior said...

i bet reagan did when he was shot. swearing or profanity, sometimes can be justified.

as in one of the earlier posts. and we are all adults here.

3:52 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger RJ said...

I knew D was the "correct" answer, but I deliberately chose something else.

What's that make me?

5:22 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Serket said...

I picked #2, but #4 is good too. But I wasn't born until the 1980s.

Bugs: By the way, I hope everyone's read this.

I noticed that this article and the one about Michelle Obama were both listed on RealClearPolitcs.

6:11 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Joe said...

Disclaimer: I am talking here about broad generalizations.

I've long concluded that there is a generation between the boomers and Xers. This is true from a simple mathematical perspective--both generations end up being too long--and especially an attitude perspective.

I have long noted that there is something distinctive between Boomers, Xers and people born from 1958-1968 to non-Boomers. Matt Groenig called this the Wedgie Generation, which my friends, family and I have adopted.

Several years ago, I was producing an educational film and by total chance, with two exceptions, the entire film crew was born in 1962. One member was born in 1961 and one in 1959. Almost all the actors were born after 1975. The generational difference was more than just age--it was a gulf.

But wait, it gets stranger, several of us, including my wife, had younger siblings who were gen-Xers. When we talked about them, there were profound differences there as well.

The single biggest common trait amongst wedgies that I've observed is that they are very cynical of power and authority. By contrast, boomers love power (that's what their idiot "revolution" was about) while Xers tend to not challenge authority. As a group, Xers are much more religious than Wedgies--I'm not longer surprised by how many of my peers either no longer go to church or who go "just for the sake of the kids"--point is, they don't believe it.

(I would say the bulk of active global warming skeptics, for example, are wedgies. We're old enough to have seen all this crap before from the boomers.)

Incidentally, I'm not the only advocate of the 58-68 generation, even if their dates are slightly different. Unfortunately, the names they've picked are usually really dorky. Wedgie not only sounds great, but hey, Matt Groenig came up with it.

7:56 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Joe said...

One more point about Wedgies: One comedian observed that we were the most dangerous generation. We didn't just grow up not wearing seat belts, but doing so when our parents were tearing down the highway at 75 in a 2 ton station wagon while we climbed from all the way in the back to the front seat.

My wife pointed out that we could still buy smokes or beer for our parents at the local equivalent of 7-11.

Playboy was kept on the regular magazine rack. Unwrapped.

When we were nine, ten, eleven, my friends and I regularly roamed miles from our homes, often across a moderately busy and very dangerous country highway.

Then again, we had only four freaking TV stations, one of which never quite came in right, and some of us though pong was really stupid. But Star Wars blew our socks off.

8:05 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...


Wasn't it great? I remember all of that. I feel sorry for kids growing up nowadays. In many ways, we were freer...

8:27 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh, helen. There is no comparison to the freedom I experienced and the current kids. I would hop my bike and literally be gone ten hours, having traveled thirty miles out of the city. We had pop-bottle rocket fights. My brother and I played tag with darts -- not those anemic suction tipped things, either. No lying about being hit with a dart hanging from your ass.

9:44 PM, March 12, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I remember reading some demographic report somewhere that distinguished Xers based upon their parents' Boomer status. Their values, beliefs and attitudes differ as a result. I was born in '67 to non-Boomer parents, so I would be part of the Wedgie cohort.

As for danger, I remember spending many a fine hour lounging on the window ledge above the backseat while dad sped down the highway at 70 on family vacations. Good view back there.

Oli, thanks for the memories regarding bottle rocket fights! One of my favorite 4th of July memories is of a trip to my cousins house, dividing into teams of six, then shooting rockets at each other for an hour or two. It was great fun. Not only was it dangerous, but bottle rockets were illegal then, so double the thrill!

However, I have no experience having a lawn dart in my butt, although we did play our own version of mumbly peg at 20 paces with the things. Do you still have the scar?

Suctions cups on lawn darts...geez, we are becoming a nation of wussies.

10:27 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

I was born in '69, but my parents are much older than the boomers - e.g. my father served in WWII. They did not move to America until later in life. So I'm not sure that my experience is indicative of the 'wedgies'(LOL) or Gen-X.

If you remember when the term GenX was first applied to this cohort, you'll recognize that this has always been used as a derogation. There was never a period in which GenX was applied neutrally.

It is a term developed by Boomers to degrade younger people - to say, this is the generation without a soul or identity, they are simply X, they do not deserve a name.

This is not surprising when you look at the history of the Boomers. I think that it's fair to say that they are among the most censorious, vindictive, pessimistic, and hysterical generations to ever exist in the West.

But these are also the same people who had abetted genocide on multiple continents and wished to normalize pedophilia - so perhaps it's good that they did not wish to take the GenXers under their wing.

* by Boomer I mean self-regarding Boomers, not all people born during that era.

11:15 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

dogwood --

Darts, not lawn darts. 32mm brass barrel with plastic foils, if I recall. Four each, the entire second floor (with six doors) and not over till the last dart thrown. Mind you, we didn't wind up, but they stuck in maybe 1/4". Ouch.

hugo --

wished to normalize pedophilia

Referring to NAMBLA? Not exactly mainstream. Otherwise clarify, I was there and don't remember any such thing.

11:58 PM, March 12, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Not sure why I read "lawn darts" into that. Most be a Freudian thing. Or something.

12:10 AM, March 13, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...


The drive to normalize pedophilia was as aspect of the sexual liberation, gay liberation, and childrens rights movements of the period. This manifest in attempts to strike 'age of consent' laws, to dramatically reduce penalties for pederasty and pedophilia, and the popularization of sexual themes involving pre-adolescent and early adolescent children.

Films such as Pretty Baby were indicative of this cultural phenomena. Also if you look at the childhood careers of Jody Foster, Brook Shields, and Tatum O'Neal, each became popular during this period for portraying rather explicit sexual themes.

There was also a movement within the pornography community at the time to use adolescent actresses and to portray child sex - i.e. there was popular demand for depictions of child sex.

Eugene Volokh has written a few posts on this subject and the advocacy of the ACLU in this area.

For instance the following was issued by the ACLU in 1977 and co-written by Ruth Bader Ginsburg - note the last clause (3)

18 U.S.C. §2032 — Eliminate the phrase "carnal knowledge of any female, not his wife who has not attained the age of sixteen years" and substitute a Federal, sex-neutral definition of the offense patterned after S. 1400 §1633: A person is guilty of an offense if he engages in a sexual act with another person, not his spouse, and (1) compels the other person to participate: (A) by force or (B) by threatening or placing the other person in fear that any person will imminently be subjected to death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping; (2) has substantially impaired the other person's power to appraise or control the conduct by administering or employing a drug or intoxicant without the knowledge or against the will of such other person, or by other means; or (3) the other person is, in fact, less than 12 years old.


Beyond this you have various cults and lifestyle communities that had advocated and practiced pedophilia. The Children Of God are probably the most well known example, but not the only one.

I am not claiming that this was a 'mainstream' movement, but it was a movement that achieved much more respectability than it had in prior generatoins or has since.

Rather than a mass acceptance of sex with children this is probably better seen as yet another example of Boomer excesses - their throw out the baby, throw out the bathwater, burn the house down and then blame their parents approach to social change.

As you might guess, I have lost my humor for the Baby Boomers.

1:13 AM, March 13, 2008  
Blogger FGFM said...

Hey, more thinking in stereotypes!

8:00 AM, March 13, 2008  
Blogger FGFM said...

Hugo, sounds like you have a rather creepy obsession.

8:03 AM, March 13, 2008  
Blogger GawainsGhost said...

The Wedgie Generation? That's a laugh. Although I certainly fall into the age group, born in 61, I would never refer to myself as a wedgie, because I know what a wedgie is. It's when someone pulls your underwear up the crack of your ass. I fail to see the honor or even the humor of being associated with anything like that.

Still, the point is valid that there is a substantive difference between those born after the Baby Boomers and before Generation X, and those born in those respective generations. I've noticed it myself. 58 to 68, or 60 to 70, is as good as any time frame to identify this group of malcontents. But I prefer to name us Generation L, short for Generation Lost.

We had freedom when we were kids. Well I remember how far I used to roam on my ten-speed and later on my motorbike. My friend and I used to drag an old canvas tent miles out into the country and camp out for days at a time, living off the land, hunting and fishing. We got chased up a tree by a wild boar once. But our parents never worried about us.

We also used to build ramps out of plywood and bricks to jump drainage ditches on dirt bikes. This after watching Evel Kneivel break every bone in his body trying to jump 20 buses on tv. It's a wonder we weren't all killed.

As for bottle rocket battles, oh I was in many of those. We used to glue pieces of wood to metal pipes to form makeshift guns, better for aiming. We also included roman candles, smoke bombs, firecrackers, and missiles in our arsenals. It was all out war. Those were the days.

Paint ball? Pssst.

But at the same time we grew up in a structured environment. School was tough in those days. California Achievement Tests, grammar courses, spelling and vocabulary tests, required reading lists, not to mention algebra, trigonometry and calculus, biology, chemistry and physics. All just to prepare for the SAT and go to college, which was even tougher. I remember taking freshmen English when only 3 mistakes were allowed on an A paper, which had to be typed on the quarter typewriter at the library.

We also had the best television shows, the best movies and the best bands. The Golden Age of Rock and Roll was bewteen 1965 (Revolver) and 1980 (Heaven and Hell). I'll go to my grave believing that. Then MTV came along and ruined everything.

We grew up with the best that America had to offer, and we had it better than the generations before and after us. Born in the decade of protest, we came of age in the decade of change, but for the most part I think a lot of us clung to the values and traditions we were inculcated with by our parents and grandparents.

Except for the women, of course. Most of them bought into feminism whole sale and ruined any chance we had of producing another successful generation. But then I guess that's what one would consider a wedgie.

11:08 AM, March 13, 2008  
Blogger russelllindsey said...

You talk about being wedged between the Boomers and the Xers. I, being born in 1980, feel caught between the Xers and the Millenials. I can identify with both.

I agree though, there seems to be a generation between the Boomers and the Xers (my Mom's younger sisters fall into this category). The wedgie aunts of mine have very different attitudes than my Xer cousins.


11:29 AM, March 13, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

hugo --

Then you're focus is unwarranted. Throughout history, there have been non-mainstream groups advocating such. And, no, there was no more or less of this for boomers than for any other generation.

12:27 PM, March 13, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wedgie. I guess that says it all. But's it's true - I don't think I think or live like a Boomer, but I also can't identify with anything supposedly Gen-X. Especially the music.

Maybe there's just a bunch of people who don't follow the crowd and so don't identify with any of these generational stereotypes. If that's the case, every generation probably has wedgies.

1:55 PM, March 13, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...


And, no, there was no more or less of this for boomers than for any other generation.

I think that I have demonstrated that there was. You'll notice that the ACLU no longer advocates these positions. Gay rights and childrens rights organizations have denounced their prior endorsements of such ideas. Taboos against the eroticization of children have been restored - often to an extreme.

Can you identify any Hollywood films, civil rights organizations, or supreme court justices who currently promote these views?

3:18 PM, March 13, 2008  
Blogger FGFM said...

Taboos against the eroticization [sic] of children have been restored - often to an extreme.

Glad to see that you are still on the case.

8:02 PM, March 13, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

hugo --

18 U.S.C. §2032

Were you perchance trying to convince people that the statue lowered the age of consent?

I am not claiming that this was a 'mainstream' movement, but it was a movement that achieved much more respectability than it had in prior generatoins or has since.

If it was not mainstream, it had no more respectability than say the courting of underage persons during Wylde's or Carol's times.

Besides, I was there and no it didn't.

10:18 PM, March 13, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

If it was not mainstream, it had no more respectability than say the courting of underage persons during Wylde's or Carol's times.

Mozart is not mainstream, but Mozart is popularly respectable - touch'e!


I won't harass you any longer Oligonicella, we should agree to disagree.

( BTW FGFM is a software program )

12:10 AM, March 14, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

hugo --

Yep. Lots of data to form one's own view with. Like Mozart being mainstream in his day.

(I return the grin.)

I thought that about fgfm at first, but then the references to the chess thingie elsewhere changed my mind.

10:39 AM, March 14, 2008  
Blogger Vulture said...

I REALLY hate the designations, and, more than anything else, I hate being lumped in with the gawd-awful self-absorbed Baby Boomers.

I was born in 1958, which, by most reckonings, makes me a "tail end" Baby Boomer. But I have nothing in common with those people! I wasn't a hippie in 1967; I was in elementary school! I wasn't in the disco in 1976; I was in high school. See what I mean?

I think we're tweeners; neither Baby Boom nor Gen-X.

The last answer was the correct one on the poll.

3:49 PM, March 14, 2008  
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