Blogger: Mary Keeley
Location: Books & Such Midwest office, Illinois
After the Baby Boomers come the Baby Busters. What issues are “hot” for this generation?
Generation X (born 1965-1980, ages 31-46) aka Baby Busters
Gen Xers want to know: “Does it work?”
According to the Pew Research Center, one characteristic of GenXers is that they don’t trust authority. Perhaps this is because their parents (Boomers) were distant and not closely involved in their lives growing up, focusing instead on the corner office and the American dream. Gen Xers came home from school to an empty house. This is the “latch key” generation.
So what do many kids do when there is no parental supervision? This is the generation that decided to educate itself about life since their parents weren’t around. Author Brandon O’Brien says, “This may be the first postmodern generation in America: anti-institutional, skeptical about people in power, and a little moody. The sort of dark worship services with depressing acoustic music where everyone talks about their feelings—that’s Generation X.”
He continues in his book, The Strategically Small Church: “Postmodernity supposedly began with the end of World War II, when we realized that science doesn’t necessarily make things better. It just makes us more able to kill more people more quickly. Postmoderns tend to reject the optimism of the modern period. Moderns (Silent and transitioning in the Boomer generation) assumed everything would keep getting better until everything was perfected through science and reason.
“Postmoderns consider this naïve. They reject black and white explanations. Things are not always true or false, good or bad, right or wrong. For example, is it always wrong to lie? Well, not if you’re hiding Jews in your attic and the Nazis ask you where they are (that’s a popular example). So sometimes lying is okay. Is it wrong to steal? Not if you are poor and oppressed and are stealing from rich people so you can feed your family. So, postmoderns are slow to make universal statements. Where moderns put a high premium on proof, postmoderns value experience. That is, a postmodern wouldn’t say, ‘I know this is true because you convinced me (rational)’ but ‘I know this is true because it has been true in my life [experience].’”
Because they felt alienated as children, they’re doubtful about being parents themselves. This is understandable since so many of them didn’t have a consistent example of how to parent. They are pragmatic toward education. The ultimate reward for the GenXer: freedom not to have to do something.
Unlike their parents’ generation, GenXers tend to be apathetic about politics, focusing more on the individual (affect of the latch-key years?). “Social justice” efforts have their beginnings among this generation. But these efforts, without a Christian foundation, serve to make you feel good because of your works rather than as an outward expression of serving your risen Savior. Big difference. Let your mind ponder that for a while, and I’m sure you can think of a number of insights and potential hot topics to share with us.
The study of history in schools was replaced by “social studies,” a sort of combination of history and civics, leaving room in the school schedule for technology and other, more contemporary classes. But this leaves a void in their knowledge of the rich heritage of America.
Please share thoughts and insights that come to mind from this general overview. Is it becoming easier to visualize possible hot topics you can write about or incorporate into your novel?