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Is Generation X the New Boomers?

Born in 1986, this '80s baby and '90s kid remembers the colorful and naughty side of millennial youth.

Daria may have more in common with Peter Pan than she knows.

Daria may have more in common with Peter Pan than she knows.

The Not So Silent Generation

Despite being first in line to suffer the wrath of Baby Boomers' irresponsible voting, business tactics and lack of parenting, Gen X shocked the world by following in their predecessors' footsteps by writing articles, posts and blogs devoted to defaming Millennials and Gen Z.

Mimicking articles usually written by Boomers, Gen X was quick to mock Gen Z and Gen Alpha, who are the first and second generations to never know life before active school shooter drills.

Gen X has touted themselves as the new "Silent" or "Forgotten" generation, swearing that the world passed them by when Boomers decided Millennials were the new enemy, and yet the irony is that this has been the loudest generation of the modern era, and it started in childhood.

"Don't care how, I want it now" sung by future "Karen" Veruca Salt, is a line welcome in Never Never Land.

"Don't care how, I want it now" sung by future "Karen" Veruca Salt, is a line welcome in Never Never Land.

We're Off To Never Never Land

Gen X did not have an easy start in life. Most were the children of Boomers in their twenties and thirties who, like Peter Pan, never wanted to grow up. The last generation to have easily obtainable jobs, credit cards and healthcare, Boomers often spent their time partying while Gen X was left at home to raise themselves and play Cinderella, doing all of the chores Mom and Dad couldn't handle.

The hefty amount of drugs and alcohol consumed by the Boomers also led that generation to a spike in family abuse. Gen X had a higher risk of enduring child abuse in their formative years than other modern generations, and often, police would turn a blind eye.

This was the last generation to know a time where it was deemed perfectly rational to have parents, teachers and even neighbors resort to physical corporal punishment, not to correct the "bad behavior" of a child, but often, just because they didn't get their way. Paddles remained in many classrooms across America through the 1990s.

"Sassing back" and rolling the eyes was deemed as big a "disrespect" by grown adults as arson, which led to Gen X swearing they "turned out fine" from spanking years later, but ultimately, they have no real way to properly regulate their emotions.

This is seen in various YouTube videos, where the "I turned out fine" generation are seen screaming, crying and threatening Walmart employees over gift cards, due to poor emotional regulation.

And marketers took advantage of that.

Giant food companies such as Kraft, Mars and Hostess started marketing known comfort foods like candy and sweets as "wholesome" treats in cartoon-driven ads during Saturday morning cartoon blocks.

Military-realistic toy guns were marketed to angsty Gen X boys, who grew up to wallpaper their homes with semi-automatics by the 2010s.

Hollywood began green-lighting specials, TV shows and movies, such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie Brown and Snoopy, where kids and tweens—exactly the same age as Gen X—acted with angst, forceful behavior, bullying tactics and hostile rage, all under the disguise of "harmless" family entertainment.

Insults from mean characters are rewarded with praise and merchandise, with big corporations making profits well into the 2020s off of the childhood anger that brewed within abused Gen X children.

Selfish, nihilistic and cynical attitudes of Gen X reflect Peter Pan's refusal to grow up.

Selfish, nihilistic and cynical attitudes of Gen X reflect Peter Pan's refusal to grow up.

With A Rebel Yell

Media for Gen X did not improve as they grew up, with passive-aggressive songs like 10cc's "I'm Not In Love" and later, 1980s pro-stalker ballads "Every Breath You Take" by The Police and The Human League's "Don't You Want Me," playing into Gen X's new need to be in control of the world around them.

Pressure to conform to unhealthy beauty standards first appeared for Gen X in the 1970s with the rise of ultra-skinny models. This would ease into the 1980s need to exercise 95% of the time, and then bleed into a 1990s trend towards skeletal-thin models in the decades before body-shaming became a taboo.

This image conflicted with years of conditioning Gen X to consume more sugary foods, which only helped to fuel the oncoming rebellion.

While Hollywood would make a fortune on the images of the aloof, goth Gen X teen or emerging adult, mad at the world, self-destructive and depressive, most of Gen X in the '80s and early '90s were split between establishment-fighting punks and a wave of initially well-meaning, but rather forceful "yuppies," a preppy group of Gen X in power business suits and "teacher's denim" dresses, who had big hair and bigger dreams about reshaping the world as they saw fit.

Initially, this led to a trend of community-inspired Gen X events, such as Hands Across America and the AIDS Quilt, but by the '90s, this all slid into an era of angsty grunge music by people in disheveled old clothes and very forceful new standards for children's media, driven by a generation that wanted revenge for childhood.

The same generation that gave us meme culture couldn't handle gender and race equality in 2020s cartoons.

The same generation that gave us meme culture couldn't handle gender and race equality in 2020s cartoons.

The Parents of the 21st Century Digital Girl

Without Gen X, the internet people would view as a necessity at the start of the 2020s wouldn't exist.

Educated Gen X saw the immediate need for the home computer and high-speed internet decades before working at home started to become normalized.

Unfortunately, this innovation has come at a hefty price.

Before the rise of social media, Gen X was devoting websites to the death and dismemberment of then new children's media characters, such as Barney, as seen in Peacock's Documentary series I Love You, You Hate Me, and to the DiC version of Sailor Moon's Chibiusa/Rini, as seen on websites like Project C.U.R.E.

The irony of Gen X's anger towards HBO Max and Warner Media about how Scooby-Doo's Velma suddenly changing her sexual preference and even her race in 2020s cartoons "ruined their childhood"?

At one point, internet-loving Gen X "ruined" their own childhood, as seen on the website Bert is Evil, where Gen X gleefully engaged in R-rated photos of Sesame Street's Bert—an early Gen X childhood icon—photoshopped into illegal activities. The website became such a hit that it even has its own entry on Wikipedia.

One thing Gen X did have in their favor was a multitude of television shows in their formative years promoting equality, which is why it was a shock in the 2020s when this same generation fired back at shows airing on PBS, Nickelodeon, Disney+ and Cartoon Network, which now featured more racial and gender diversity.

But then, this is also the generation that demanded participation trophies for children who lose in sports games, specifically so they could chide said children for accepting them.

Instead of rebelling against the establishment that took advantage of them, Gen X rolled into the 2020s mimicking Boomers by making spectacles of themselves online and in politics against equality, dumping their responsibilities onto their Millennial and Gen Z children, and acting no older than Peter Pan.

Gen X is one of the more educated generations of the modern era, which makes this slide a rather dark one. Unlike Boomers, who rarely studied, Gen X couldn't stop reading, and yet they made choices future generations will have to confront.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Koriander Bullard