The Overlooked Plight of America’s 'Middle Child'

Generation X gave us all sorts of pop culture treasures, like Nirvana, Molly Ringwald and Ethan Hawke. But sandwiched between the Baby Boomer generation and the fast rising Millennials of today, Generation X has become America's forgotten middle child. 

Generation X gave us all sorts of pop culture treasures, like Nirvana, Molly Ringwald and Ethan Hawke. But sandwiched between the Baby Boomer generation and the fast rising Millennials of today, Generation X has become America's forgotten middle child. 

As Baby Boomers fade into the sunset and Millennials are on the ascendancy, members of Generation X feel overlooked. And at least one Gen Xer is mad as hell about it.

Mat Honan, a card-carrying member of Gen X, launched a rant on Tumblr that summed up his disgust with whining by Boomers and Millennials. “First generation to do worse than their parents? Been there. Done that.”

"Generation X is tired of your sense of entitlement. Generation X also graduated during a recession. It had even s#*#*#*# jobs, and actually had to pay for its own music. (At least, when music mattered most to it.) Generation X is used to being f#*#*# over. It lost its meager savings in the dot-com bust. Then came George Bush, and 9/11, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Generation X bore the brunt of all that. And then came the housing crisis.

"Generation X wasn't surprised. Generation X kind of expected it.

"Generation X is a journeyman. It didn't invent hip hop, or punk rock, or even electronica (it's pretty sure those dudes in Kraftwerk are Boomers), but it perfected all of them, and made them its own. It didn't invent the Web, but it largely built the damn thing. Generation X gave you Google and Twitter and blogging; Run DMC and Radiohead and Nirvana and Notorious B.I.G. Not that it gets any credit.

"But that's okay. Generation X is used to being ignored, stuffed between two much larger, much more vocal, demographics. But whatever! Generation X is self-sufficient. It was a latchkey child. Its parents were too busy fulfilling their own personal ambitions to notice any of its trophies, which were admittedly few and far between because they were only awarded for victories, not participation."

It's hard to believe 60 million people could be ignored, but Generation X has become known as the Forgotten Generation. The Pew Research Center has referred to Generation X as America’s neglected “middle child.”

Even though a Gen Xer occupies the White House, this generation lacks its own distinctive identity.

A Bloomberg Business report last year said it is a generation that has grown up and become grumpy.

"The members of Generation X have plenty to be grumpy about. For starters, no one talks about them anymore. It’s all Millennials all the time. There’s another reason Americans born between 1965 and 1980 are gloomy: Gen Xers are in even worse shape financially than the baby boomers who preceded them or the millennials who followed.

"Sure, many Boomers haven’t saved enough for retirement. And Millennials are squeezed by high student-loan debt. But Gen Xers are still paying off student loans while raising families on wages that have barely budged in recent years. They have more debt than other age groups and are more pessimistic about ever being able to afford to retire, according to many surveys.

"Almost 40 percent say they 'don’t at all feel financially secure,' and 38 percent have more debt than savings, more than any other generation, according to a recent survey of 5,474 Americans by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. On average, people in their 40s had saved $62,087 in 401(k) retirement plans at the end of 2013, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute. That means Gen Xers who plan to retire at 65 have a considerable way to go to accumulate the $1 million they’ll need to generate $40,000 a year as seniors.”

It probably makes business sense to give a little love to America’s middle child.