Generation-X. We are the “latchkey kids,” the “Forgotten Generation,” the “slackers.” We are the generation sandwiched between the bigger Boomers and the Millenials. We are the middle child. We are all JAN BRADY.
There were approximately 65 million of us born in the United States between 1965 and 1980. A mere 20% of the population. So really, is it any surprise that even CBS News forgot about us once when discussing the issues of the bigger Millennials?
It doesn’t matter. It’s fine. We don’t care. Because we’re apathetic like that.
We’re also cynical, skeptical, pessimistic, and disaffected.
We were the first generation impacted by high rates of divorce.
We were the free-rangers, left to our own devices as both of our parents entered the workforce.
We made our own lunches, got our own snacks, got ourselves up and out the door to school.
And we let ourselves in after school where we would spend hours alone until a parent eventually came home.
But while our upbringing may have been about independence, a lack of parental supervision, and self-reliance, it has all led us here. To this moment in history, and we were MADE for this.
Social distancing? We’ve been doing this our ENTIRE LIVES.
As young kids, we learned how to entertain ourselves. We tossed a ball against the side of our house for hours and played one person games like Rubix Cube, Simon, and Waterful Ring Toss.
When video games hit the scene we played single-player games: Pac-Man, Tetris, Donkey Kong, Mario Brothers, and Centipede.
We had our Walkmans and we loved them. We could listen to our homemade mixed tapes, full of The Cult, Depeche Mode, and The Cure.
We walked alone and tuned out our parents, our siblings, our friends, the world. We sang songs like “All By Myself,” “Dancing With Myself,” and “Can’t Touch This.”
We didn’t need concerts. We had MTV.
There was no going out on Thursday nights. Must-see TV was on.
Or Sundays, when we gathered around to watch The Wonderful World of Disney. But staying in didn’t make us feel socially isolated. We were connected.
To the 36.3 million viewers who watched Alex P. Keaton head off to college. To the 80 million other people watching “Who Shot J.R.?”
And the 105 million viewers who watched the final farewell of M*A*S*H, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.”
But it wasn’t just in music, games, and television where we excelled at being alone.
We wore giant shoulder pads so people couldn’t get too close and Vuarnets, indoors and out, to look cool, sure, but also so we wouldn’t have to make eye contact.
In junior high and high school, we distanced ourselves from each other. We split ourselves off into smaller groups – the rats, the preps, the jocks, the geeks, the goths, the headbangers. We only associated with a select few, curated friends.
And now, as adults, Gen-Xers are still loners. According to an article in Fortune:
“Gen X-ers are usually not ones to choose to work in groups. They prefer to work alone and are less likely to engage with colleagues.”
So social distancing? Yeah, WE’VE GOT THIS.
And my fellow X-ers agree. Just take a little stroll through the Twitterverse and you can see for yourself.
This is nothing new for us. It’s our time to show the world how it’s done, and believe me, we KNOW how it’s done:
— Ale Arevalo (@AleArevMD) March 18, 2020
I am #GenX. We perfected social distancing before it was trendy. I have no problem whatsoever with staying inside all day and entertaining myself and living off of snacks.
— Charles Metcalf Jr ? (@RealCMetcalfJr) March 15, 2020
Isolated, alone, we are the latchkey kids.
We ate all the processed foods, watched MuschMusic in darkened basements, played video games, watched bad VHS movies for hours…we got this. Hope everyone else does the same with success. #GenX ?? pic.twitter.com/nW94T9fbSC
— Andrew King (@twitandrewking) March 17, 2020
We’re used to being left behind to fend for ourselves. And we like it:
The life of a #GenX kid:
Wake up and immediately go outside; play with dangerous things in dangerous places.
Show up for dinner 14 hours later; parents are surprised to learn you weren’t home.
Eat fishsticks alone while watching tv.
Read in bed with flashlight.
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 15, 2020
Amen, sister. “I’m goin to London for 3wks. There’s some postdated checks on the fridge, some cream chipped beef in the freezer. Your brother’s friend will check in on you once a day. Do your homework and stuff. Byeee!” “Whatever, ma.” (Plops on couch, watches “Taxi Driver.”)
— Chris Orbach (@chrisorbach) March 15, 2020
I remember when my parents decided I was old enough to leave me home alone for a week while they flew to Mexico in 1982.
I was 14.
— IrishJenn ? ???? (@Irishjenn2005) March 15, 2020
This was TV, online gaming, smart phones, and Netflix for #GenX
We’ve been waiting to be told to stay home for years. pic.twitter.com/kJQjQ8djBF
— Andrew Tumilty (@AndrewTumilty) March 15, 2020
Our parents warned us about hanging out in our rooms for hours on end. Turns out we were just preparing for a moment in time like this.
My parents, 1990: "Staying holed up in your room, reading and watching TV won't get you anywhere in life."
— jacqui day (@fangeeker) March 16, 2020
Gen-Xers have been training for quarantine our entire lives. No other generation is perfectly happy staying in their room, alone, listening to sad music & watching John Hughes’ complete oeuvre on repeat like us. #coronapocolypse #StopTheSpread #GenX #StayTheFHome #COVID?19
— Elizabeth Weitz (@ebethhasissues) March 15, 2020
Social distancing doesn’t mean we have to sit around doing nothing. There’s music to listen to and games to play:
I think I'll make a mixtape. By which I mean a playlist but look, I'm Gen X, and we called them mixtapes, deal with it.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) March 18, 2020
— Deb deb giveityoursome (@Debdeb__25) March 16, 2020
And 80s movies to watch…This was before “social distancing” was even a thing. What can I say, we’ve always been ahead of our time:
— RMThomas6979 (@thomas6979) March 18, 2020
And quite frankly, we could use a break from all the “people-ing”:
The World: You Need to Quarantine and not see or speak to other humans for 2 weeks or more.
Boomers: This sucks but ok I wanna live.
Millennials & GenZ: NOOO! THIS IS AWFUL!! LET US OUT.
— Artist_Angie: Sensei of Sarcasm (@Artist_Angie) March 19, 2020
#GenX will self quarantine like it’s 1999 because we could use some time off from showing our GenZ kids how to write a return address on envelope and helping our parents open attachements from the email address we made for them. pic.twitter.com/KE8lNlThB8
— Nancy? (@fineassand) March 15, 2020
In all seriousness, this “new normal” isn’t easy for any of us. But social distancing is the best defense we have to try to minimize the spread of the coronavirus and prevent overloading our healthcare systems.
We are in this together, The Silent Generation, Boomers, Gen-X, Millenials, and Gen-Z. And together we will come out of it.
Hopefully sooner rather than later, and better than we were before.