If you were born in the US between 1962 and 1980, you are part of the smallest US generation alive, Generation X. Because we are small, a mere 42 million, we live in the shadows of both the Baby Boomers (72 million) and the Millenials (80 million).
Gen-X’ers watch a lot of advertisements for old people now, or advertisements for young folks in their late teens to early 30’s. We don’t see a lot of programming directed towards us, because we have less buying power. I don’t think there is a channel with programming aimed at us – we just get lumped in with old people or young people. I’m either watching ads for Viagra and Depends or Cheetos and Mountain Dew; nothing really just for my generation. My generation requires Depends only after they drink more than one can of Mountain Dew with Cheetos and Viagra.
Gen-X’ers often get passed by for promotions, because the baby boomers are late to retire, and the jobs we need are now getting filled by the younger, consdierably more tech-savvy millennials, who cost less and deliver more. We have all the skills, but we have been working and getting cost-of-living increases for a long time, waiting for a coveted position in middle management. The hiring managers prefer to give it to someone with fewer years in the workplace and a corresponding lower living wage.
Our generation remembers the rotary dial phone and the 1200 baud modem. We remember having to pay extra for touch tone service. We had to learn to adapt to technology when it suddenly took over our lives. I remember when a drive-up teller was not an ATM – it featured a pneumatic tube that sucked up your checks and delivered them to the human teller manning the window. The fact that I take a picture of my check using my phone, and then magically deposit it into my account seems nothing short of miraculous to me now. Millennials gripe and complain that their phone made them take the picture twice. Boomers “don’t trust the system” so many of them still go into the bank and wait in line. I had teachers who wouldn’t accept computer printouts for typewritten assignments. We had to adjust; it didn’t come naturally. The Boomers and Greatest Generation didn’t make it easy for us with ridiculous requirements like typewriters-only.
I remember how you waited in line for hours to see a movie because there wasn’t an option to steal it and watch it before it was released. Certain franchises, like Star Wars, were promised never to be released on Video Tape, and you could only watch them during their limited three month engagement in theaters. Once a movie was gone, if you didn’t have 600 dollars for a VCR, and 80 dollars to buy the movie, you had a limited chance of being able to see it again. My town had a “repertory theater” that played cult movies and other popular second run films. They had a live performance of the Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday night at midnight. It was a golden age for cinematic entertainment, and movie watching was a group experience. It was not something you did on your phone.
Louis CK is a Gen-X’er – perhaps the quintessential Gen-X’er. His comedy is all about this alienation we feel as the “wee generation” that came after the Me Generation. He looks exactly like I feel – disheveled and resigned to a difficult life paying for the excesses of the baby boomers through Social Security and banking bailouts. He is even more cynical than I am, which says a lot. His show is one of the few shows out there that is aimed at my demographic. But the advertisers seem confused – we still get a lot of Cialis, Funeral Insurance and Do the Dew.
There must be advantages to being in a smaller demographic, but I can’t think of them right now. If you can think of some advantages to being a Gen-X’er, please comment. I find it hard to be the last generation that remembers typewriters and carbon paper.