Hold on to your hats, Traditionalists and Baby Boomers: Generation X is 50 years old.
Yes, I know that there are many different definitions of the beginning and ending years of Gen X, and it is roughly early/mid 60's to early/mid 80's. I've also seen Baby Boomers described as ending in 1964. For this reason, I chose Late Boom, Early X as my "micro-bio."
There are some folks over at Harvard University who in the past few years published an article that used equal 20-year spans to describe the generations. They had Generation X at 1965 to 1984. I'm going with that one -- I've heard they're bright at Harvard. I've always considered myself as more Gen X anyway.
I've been blogging for Huff/Post50 since 2012, even though at the time of this writing I haven't yet reached 50. I have both Traditionalists and Baby Boomers as siblings, so I was always a bit precocious, trying to keep up.
My birthday is March 14th, which is sometimes called the day of relativity. Some personality traits are being able to understand yourself in relation to others, and being open to different ideological approaches. I believe that has helped me understand people from different generations as well as different countries.
March 14th is also an extra special Pi Day this year. Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, and its decimal representation never ends. However at 9 hours, 26 minutes and 53 seconds we will have the first nine digits after the decimal point covered. That's pretty good -- besides scientists, who uses 9 decimal places in everyday life?
Anyway, back to Generation X. As far as I'm aware, no one has attached terms as impressive as "the greatest generation" to us, but I think we're pretty cool. When you think about how children are raised today, sometimes I'm amazed we survived our childhood, especially summertime.
We would wake up in the morning and eat a bowl of cereal that contained enough sugar to supply a Starbucks. Then it was out the door and down the street for hours, only to return when we were ready for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Wonder bread, or a can of Campbell's soup. We'd go back outside until we heard our parents yell out our names from the front door, calling us in for dinner. Other than meal times, we hardly ever saw an adult. We were completely unsupervised.
We'd go out again after dinner, until the streetlights came on. That part always got me in trouble, seeing that I would only notice the streetlights when it was fully dark. We were too busy playing sports or things like kick the can, red rover and ghosts in the graveyard. If we got thirsty, we drank from the garden hose. Bottled water was a long way off.
There were no "play dates" organized for us. We would simply go into the street and find the other kids on the block. This was made easier, depending on your age, by looking for the driveway that had all the Big Wheels or Schwinn Sting-Rays on it. We didn't need to lock up our bikes, or lock the house doors for that matter.
You could cover a lot of territory on your bicycle, and some days we were miles away from home. There were no cell phones to call and check in. Plus, we didn't wear helmets or knee pads, even when we were popping wheelies or pretending to be Evel Knievel and jumping ramps made out of plywood and bricks.
Generation X has seen technology advance at astounding clip. I remember riding my Sting-Ray for miles to the local miniature golf so I could play Pong. Have you seen video games lately? They look like movies, and you can play against others all over the world.
I used to listen to my transistor radio at night, when I was supposed to be sleeping. We saw 8 track tapes be replaced by cassettes, and had boom boxes and Walkmans to take our music with us. We've seen LP records get replaced by CDs, and now have our entire music library stored on relatively tiny devices like the IPod. I've never been aware of a world without the Beatles or Stones, Dylan or Hendrix.
We saw touch tone replace rotary phones, and the advent of cell phones. We saw flip phones replaced by smart phones, which allow us to listen to music or watch movies on the go. We saw MTV launch with "Video Killed the Radio Star."
I barely remember black and white TV sets, but do remember the whole family gathered to watch a man walk on the moon. Now the family can be in separate rooms, watching digitally a recorded program on smart TV's that you can control with your phone.
The first calculator I saw was roughly the size of a Buick, and all it could do was add, subtract, multiply and divide. I remember the first home computers and floppy disks, and now we can connect to the internet from almost anywhere. We can reconnect with long lost friends from childhood, or communicate with people a half a world away using Skype and social media. We know how to tweet and use hashtags.
I'm not sure what the future holds, but I'm confident that Generation X will relate and adapt -- especially if it's those flying cars from the Jetsons.
I'm ready -- but I still won't wear a helmet.