Musings about the 1980’s and Generation X

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Generation X – “From everything we know about them, they’re savvy, skeptical and self-reliant; they’re not into preening or pampering, and they just might not give much of a hoot what others think of them or whether others think of them at all.”  ( – Paul Taylor and George Gao)

Once the 2015 NCAA March Madness Tournament finished, I was able to complete my latest 1000 piece puzzle, The 1980’s by James Mellett.  I was a little surprised the puzzle was more difficult to finish then my previous puzzles of the Historic Newsstand and Old Bookstore.  As I was completing the puzzle and feeling nostalgic over the 1980’s, I began musing about the 1980’s and being a member of Generation X.  As noted in the title of my blog I am a curious introvert, and after researching Generation X, I am beginning to wonder if being an introvert was a part of my personality make-up or a byproduct of being a member of Generation X.  My generation includes those born between 1965-1980, which includes about 49 million individuals, and we are sandwiched between two very large and dominating generations, the Baby Boomers and Millennials.    In addition to the attention the Baby Boomers and Millennials demand for their generations, the media has also fixated on those two generations while tending to ignore Generation X.  The Baby Boom generation of 75 million was born between 1946-1964 and the 89 million individuals of Generation Y (Millennials) were born between 1981-1996.  Some of the phrases I came across describing Generation X in my research were cynical, loner, independent and self-sufficient.  Well, with those type of personality traits, it is possible we have a whole generation of introverts surrounded by the Baby Boomers and their social revolutions and the Millennials who have taken the social revolutions of their Baby Boomer parents and merged them with the current environment of social media revolution.

Several of the traits previously listed (cynical, loner, independent and self-sufficient) to describe my generation sound very familiar and seem to reflect some of my own characteristics.  My generation has been described as cynical about authority and I definitely have always been cynical about politics, government and corporations.  My first memory of politics is Watergate and having a President, Ronald Reagan, that starred in a movie about a chimp, Bedtime for Bonzo.  I did not view government and politics as an idealist and my cynicism has only grown over the years.  As for corporations, I am not sure if my cynicism for corporations was a result of my own work experiences or the simple belief that power corrupts and those with the power, whether politicians or corporate leaders, were never looking out for those without the power.  I have spent the majority of my life as an independent, self-sufficient loner and at this point in life, whether or not that was a combination of personal choices and generational traits of the time, I am quite happy with the lifestyle and being a member of Generation X.

For the world, the 1980’s was a decade of events that would later be pivotal in major changes in society.  A few of those were:  Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev governing their respective countries; the first IBM personal computer released; the first commercial cell phone call; the first Macintosh computer; the introduction of Microsoft Windows; the internet going global; CNN and MTV; and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  The National Geographic Channel televised a very good documentary, The ’80s:  The Decade That Made Us, a few years ago and it is definitely worth watching.

While completing the puzzle I was surprised at the amount of memories triggered by the collection of ’80’s nostalgia and, similar to wondering what I had in common with Generation X, I began comparing my memories of the ’80’s to the puzzle.  Sports, music, movies and tv have always been a great source of enjoyment and entertainment in my life and as I was looking at the puzzle the memories of my favorites from the ’80’s began to reappear.  Starting with the sporting images included in the puzzle, I was a major fan of Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers and still view the Magic-Bird era as my favorite basketball decade.  I was never a Joe Montana and San Francisco 49s fan, but preferred Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins and when it came to hockey, Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings were the greatest even though Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux dominated the ’80’s.  It appears my music preferences are much different then those included in the puzzle.  To this day, my two favorite albums are The Joshua Tree by U2 and Back in Black by AC/DC, which were not included in the puzzle.  I love Bruce Springsteen’s music, but I would have included Tunnel of Love and The River instead of Born in the U.S.A.  Somehow growing up in the 1980’s I missed out on the fascination with Madonna, Michael Jackson and Prince.  I no longer have a Sony Walkman, but surprisingly I still have some old VCR tapes and a rather big boombox somewhere in the house.  A few of the other cultural items from the 1980’s that I missed out on were the Rubik’s cube, home computers, and, while I did enjoy Atari and Pac-Man, I preferred playing Centipede at the arcade.

My memories of movies from the 1980’s is more pronounced than the tv shows.  The reason is that many of the movies have remained favorites over the years and I have probably seen the majority of films starring Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise and, of course, the movies by John Hughes starring the Brat Pack.  I preferred Flashdance over Dirty Dancing, Ghostbusters over The Blues Brothers, loved E.T. and Star Wars and would have included Lethal Weapon over Back to the Future.  As for tv shows, I watched the majority of shows included in the puzzle, but Cheers was my number one show of the 1980’s and I preferred Knot’s Landing over Dallas and Dynasty, and Murphy Brown and Moonlighting should have been included.

It was wonderful reminiscing over the 1980’s while completing this puzzle and laughing at the big hair and fashion, enjoying the memories of music, movies, tv shows and sports that were enjoyed and remembering major events that changed the world.



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