Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Defining Generation X a New Series from the Heath Post

 I've been thinking about this idea now for a few weeks and finally decided it was time to put it down on "paper" here at the Heath Post.  I think it is time we start to reflect on what exactly is Generation X and I think a good way to approach it is to look at the things that made us who we are and also how we've influenced the next generations.   

We will follow the basic assumption here that Generation X are people born between 1965-1980.  There are differing dates out there, but we'll stick with this one.    

So in my mind I have broken this up into groups of influence:  Politics/Sports, Music/Media, Pop Culture/Games, and Art/Literature.  

Let's look at each of these areas.  

Politics:  There are 3 ways I believe to look at these categories and politics is no different.  There are the politics that influenced us when we were young.  The politics that we began to influence as we grew older.  The politics that we created to influence the next generation.  I think you could apply these rules to all of these categories, but here is a very simple breakdown.  Jimmy Carter/Ronald Reagan as influencers on Gen X.  Obama becoming president was I think a good sign of how strong Gen X had become on their influence in politics.  Donald Trump becoming president is the influence we would bring onto the next generation.  The funny thing I truly believe we will never see a Gen X president.  Maybe in looking at who Generation X is we can figure out why that may be the case.  

Sports:  Ok so let's follow the same example for sports.  We have Larry Bird and Magic Johnson as influencers.  But here what is different is that we have to now look at the Gen X athletes who both influenced sports and the future generations.  So athletes like Tiger Woods and Tom Brady come to mind.  But we can also look at things like the growth of football and the collapse of baseball.  Why did baseball die under the Generation X watch.  

Politics/Sports:  I group these two areas together because in my mind they are somehow connected.  I may be wrong about this, but I don't think so.  The rise of sports radio, the rise of sports television all of these things were driven by Generation X.  This generation also drove the rise of political talk radio and political talk television.  I think these things are very connected.  

Music:  Again there are those who influenced Generation X and those who were stars and those who were influencers.  Influencers aren't always stars and the music that we love as kids and gets us into music, don't necessarily end up being the final influences.  A band like the Pixies are fun because they are a blend of boomers and Gen Xers.  Gen X I think has an interesting tale to tell in music.  

Media:  From movies to TV to the internet.  We were the first generation to embrace the internet and we were the generation who would define the internet in many ways.  YouTube was created by Gen Xers.  Does that tell you enough.  But what influenced our generation was also just as important.  Now that Gen Xers are in charge we have turned the NFL Pro Bowl into a remake of Battle of the Network Stars.

Music/Media:  Of course these two are interconnected but in our generation they became connected in ways that they were not previously.  With the growth of MTV and shows like Miami Vice the interplay between media and music grew tremendously.  

Pop Culture:  Every generation has a pop culture that is uniquely its own.  Of course it is tied to all of the things around us, and influenced by so many things, but it is also something that exists on its own.  If we take the time to examine the pop culture of Gen X what does it look like.  What defines it.  When did it start and when did it end, if it has.  This one to me is cloudy and I have a hard time thinking of it, but I feel like it is one of the things I would like to flush out over the life of this series.  

Games:  I decided that games needed their own area in here and I do think in many ways games and pop culture for our generation are very intertwined and so I grouped them together.  From the games that influenced us to the fact that now gaming is a thing in the world is all in part because of Gen X and our love of games.  Board games, video games, lawn games, it doesn't matter.  We embraced them all and brought them up in statice to a place they had never held before.  Sure there was bridge, but there was nothing like what we have today.  

Pop Culture/Games:  I grouped these together because in many ways I think they are more closely tied than any other other areas here.  In many ways gaming is one of the primary components of our pop culture.  

Art:  This is a tough one for me as I don't know much about what has happened in the art world, but I do know that the most popular artist of our generation is someone that has no identity other than Banksy. I'm not even sure they are Gen X but you would assume so from when they started their work in the early 1990's.  But art is more than just what shows up in museums and art houses it is also the design, the look the feel of things.  Because I don't know much about this realm it would be an interesting piece to explore.  

Literature:  Yes JK Rowling is a Gen Xer and yes I would say Gen Xers are responsible for a boom in the book world, but as far as a real voice in literature, I'm not sure.  I would happily adopt Bret Easton Ellis as a Gen Xer, but he was born in 1964, so one of those late Boomers with a huge influence over Gen X.  Same with Nick Hornsby, someone who we embrace as an influence, but not one of us.  Literature for me is tricky.  Most of the people who we read are not of our generation, but the generation before us.  They are the ones writing when we are in our 20's and 30's and developing our own ideas and creating our own writers.  So often we don't read our own generation.  What of our poetry?  I know one Gen X poet, because he was a friend of mine in college.  Not sure if that counts.  Again this is an area I need to learn more about and hope to with this series.  

Art/Literature:  These two areas are always linked up with each other and that is for good reason.  So often the two are influencing and being influenced by each other.  I thought about putting art with media or pop culture and I thought about putting literature with music, but I still believe with Generation X the two are connected.  Mostly because we were most heavily influenced by artists and writers of the Boomer generation.  For future generations it may make sense to split these two apart.  

So you may be asking yourself OK this is a fun thought experiment but what can I expect.  Well I'm hoping you will see all of the writers here at the Heath Post begin to bring connections to the pieces we write into the discussion of how these things helped to define our generation.  I think reading between the lines over the years you could have already been doing this, but now is a chance for us to begin talking about this explicitly.  Generation X is old enough now it is time to start thinking about our who we are and what our legacy will be.


  1. Have you read Michael Chabon or Donna Tartt (both born in 1963). To me, they each have a very Gen-X sensibility.

  2. You might also try David Foster Wallace (born 1962).

  3. But I think a lot of Gen X "literature" consists of TV shows. Here are some examples:

    Matt Weiner (1965) created "Mad Men"
    Steven Moffat (1961) created the BBC "Sherlock" and some of the best recent episodes of "Doctor Who"
    Russel T Davies (1963) rebooted "Doctor Who" in 2005
    Vince Gilligan (1967) created "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul"
    Beau Willimon (1977) developed "House of Cards" for Netflix
    Nic Pizzolatto (1975) created "True Detective"

    Those are just a few examples I thought of, and I think all those works have a real Gen-X quality. To me, it makes a lot of sense that creative Gen-X kids would take their talents to television. After all, that's a medium that we know better than any other.