Example after example of Generation X being completely forgotten by the media has convinced me that my generation may be an example of a Mandela Effect in the making. I’m imagining a Reddit thread in the future in which someone demands proof that a thing called Gen X ever existed, and it would be hard to come by. On the other hand, there are plenty of cultural artifacts that testify to the complete non-existence of the cohort.
For instance, demographic specialist Paul Taylor’s 2014 book The Next America: Boomers, Millennials and the Looming Generational Showdown completely omits the middle child from the title. That’s fine. I don’t have the time or energy for showdowns anyway.
There’s also this Tweet by political commentator and former presidential advisor David Gergen that really screams, “Whatever you do, don’t give the baton to those weirdos in Gen X.” Or at least that’s what I’m reading in the absence.
Baby Boomers have been running the country for nearly three decades. Some successes, a number of disappointments. It’s time to pass the baton to younger generations — Millennials & Gen Z. Pls join us for conversation tonite on @CNN with @ACCooper about my new book on subject.
— David Gergen (@David_Gergen) May 10, 2022
You can read the response of Gen Xers to the omission in this Huffpost article. They resonate with the quintessential whatever that defines an age group who grew up with little to no adult supervision.
Here’s a passage from the PsyPost article that really convinced me that we’re headed the way of the Berenstein Bears and Curious George’s tail:
People have a tendency to differentiate strongly between generations. Baby boomers are seen as out-of-touch, millennials are thought of as lazy and entitled, and Gen Z is seen as frivolous and social media-obsessed. Despite the common discourse, the research into differences between generational cohorts’ personality traits has been very limited. This study sought to understand these differences utilizing the Big Five personality traits: conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, extraversion, and openness to experience.
To be fair, Gen X is mentioned in the actual study cited, but in terms of leaving a breadcrumb in pop culture, we’re missing.
I don’t have an actual beef about this. I do find it interesting, however. What is it that makes Gen X so forgettable? And if we do become a Mandela Effect, do we all disappear, like the cornucopia from the Fruit of the Looms logo, which I swear was really there once upon a time? Or do we get corralled in with Baby Boomers or Millennials. Ew. I mean, Millennials are aight, but I’m too old to land on that side of things, and I’m just not willing to exit this life as a Boomer. Not cool.
That’s why I’ve decided to add a classic “Gen X Was Here” stamp to everything I do from now on. I’m leaving breadcrumbs to make sure I get to stay where I belong: in the shadows with all the other weirdos my age. Feel free to use it if you, too, want to avoid becoming a Mandela Effect tragedy.