Look, I love avocado toast. I post pics of the lavish dinners I eat on Instagram. I know the earth is getting hotter with each passing year — climate change is real. And If I ever get to retire, I’m sure my pension will come in somewhere between little to none.
So, I get you, millennials.
But I also think the aforementioned group of young’uns seems to complain a bit and is too quick to tweet. I’m sorry you aren’t getting a promotion just because you’re digital natives. And I will always love funk, old-school, hip-hop, and Fleetwood Mac more than mumble rap.
So, I feel you, boomers.
Where does that leave me? Gen X all day.
You probably haven’t noticed, but there are roughly 65 million Gen Xers who aren’t getting caught up in this “OK, Boomer” feud that is taking over pop culture, started earlier this fall with a meme on TikTok. We can’t escape it. Most of the ire can be found in articles including “Disney Heiress tells fellow boomers who are offended by the phrase ‘OK boomer’: Sit down and let the kids drive” or local journalist Ernest Owens’ New York Times finger wag at former President Obama’s very boomer view of cancel culture. And then there is the onslaught of “OK, Boomer” merch: one part tacky and two parts rude.
But, once again, the rumble completely ignores Gen X, as if we are not the bond that connects the two generations. But even if we wanted to jump in the cyber mud with y’all, we can’t. Why? Because we are working day and night taking care of the people we’re generationally sandwiched in between — those who raised us and those we’re raising. Besides, having been ignored for so long, we have learned not to complain.
Not to complain about the raises we never got, the peak earnings that passed us by, the corner offices we might never see because the boomers won’t seem to retire and the millennials deserve it now, right?
See the pickle we Gen Xers are in?
But being a Gen Xer isn’t about wallowing in middle-child angst, as some have suggested. We are not lazy and shiftless. There is a gift in bridging the gap. When it comes to perspective, you guys need us. Here’s why:
Having been ignored, we are sensitive observers. This really comes in handy with our millennial and boomer colleagues, both of whom turn to us when they want to be heard. Our diplomatic answers: Yes, Bob, you squashed Bryce’s dreams when you told him your puppy had more common sense then he did. He didn’t mean to post the company’s profit sheet on Instagram. And, Chloe, yes, your idea to gear up for the company’s retail sales with Instagram posts was a great one, but when the boss calls, answer the phone, don’t text.
Having been raised by the generation of guilt and shame, we don’t judge. You won’t hear us tsk-tsking when doing the walk of shame after the Christmas party. (Chances are we probably did it, too.) But we won’t sugarcoat the questionable judgment. After we tell you to really think twice about your next move, we’ll keep it tight. That doesn’t mean we won’t ask for details over a mimosa.
Because we grew up with fashion rules, we don’t live in a world of fashion absolutes. We won’t frown if you wear denim, a blazer, and high heels to a cocktail party, or sneakers with your business suit. A Gen Xer doesn’t want to see anyone uncomfortable, as it reminds us of all those unbearable, awkward Easter Sundays our parents insisted we get frilly for. That doesn’t mean we don’t have standards. We trust that you do, too, but if you wear something too tight, we’ll send you home.
As the children of the last stand-by-your-spouse couples, we won’t judge you if a relationship doesn’t work out. We don’t want misery on our watches. We know if it didn’t work for our parents, it doesn’t have to work for you. We’re not drama queens, because we’ve probably wrecked a few relationships ourselves or watched a close friend do the same thing. We wrote the template on messing up and oversharing. We just didn’t post it all over the place.