17 Reasons Why Society Keeps Forgetting About Gen X

Generation X, often dubbed the “Forgotten Generation,” finds itself frequently overlooked in discussions that typically focus on Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Z. This phenomenon can be attributed to a variety of reasons, ranging from demographic factors to cultural and societal shifts. Here are 17 reasons why Generation X tends to be forgotten.

Smaller Population

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Mental Floss states, “Compared to Baby Boomers (75 million) and Millennials (83 million), Generation X members are outnumbered. Estimates have placed the population at around 65 million.” With a smaller population, they get lost in the shuffle of the larger and louder generation, which gets more attention.

The Middle Child Syndrome

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Often described as the “Jan Brady of generations,” they are overshadowed by their ‘older’ and ‘younger’ siblings. They are caught between the Baby Boomers and Millennials, both of whom have been more vocal and thus have dominated public discourse. The broad and sometimes ambiguous definitions of generational labels can lead to confusion, with some late Gen Xers being lumped in with Millennials, further diluting their identity.


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Business Insider wrote about a TikToker shining a light on the lack of attention or even blame Gen X receives. One Gen Xer responded to the TikTok with “Gen X gets a pass because we raised ourselves.” Growing up in a time of changing societal norms and increased divorce rates, many Gen Xers were latchkey kids, leading to a culture of self-reliance and independence.

Digital Pioneers, Not Natives

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Unlike Millennials and Gen Z, Gen Xers didn’t grow up with the internet but adapted to it in adulthood, making their digital footprint less pronounced. “We have had a unique vantage point in that we vividly remember life both before and after the advent of the internet and cellphones,” as quoted on BuzzFeed. They practically invented the digital age, which makes them highly adaptable to new technology.

Cynicism and Skepticism

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Known for their cynicism, partly due to economic recessions and political scandals during their formative years, Gen X’s skepticism toward institutions makes them less likely to be vocal in traditional forums. Films like Reality Bites and Slacker helped perpetuate the image of Gen Xers as irreverent and jaded.

Cultural Icons Are Less Mainstream

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Newsweek has a group of Gen Xers “reflecting on what it means to be from the era of MTV, grunge, The Breakfast Club, yuppies, slackers, Biggie, and Tupac.” Many of Gen X’s cultural icons and movements, like grunge music, didn’t have the universal appeal of other generations’ pop phenomena. Star Wars and Prince were also big parts of the era that still have a standing appeal today.

Economic Timing

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Entering the workforce during recessions and the dot-com bust, their economic impact was overshadowed by the booming post-war economy of the Boomers and the digital explosion that benefited Millennials. They are also reported to have the highest student loan debt.

Media Representation

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The Millenial vs. Boomer articles are almost endless. Films and media often focus on the dramatic intergenerational conflict between Boomers and Millennials, leaving Gen X out of the narrative. Don’t feel bad for them; most Gen Xers are happy to be out of the limelight.

Preference for Anonymity

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Many Gen Xers prefer to stay out of the limelight, appreciating their privacy more than public recognition. Maybe it’s because they had less attention from their parents; they don’t need the attention from the world. And though they are mostly highly active on social media, they are less likely to post their every moment, like generations younger than them.

Work Ethic

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Known as a hardworking generation, they are often too busy doing the work rather than talking about it. They are more focused on practicality. Their practical and no-nonsense approach to life and work means they’re less likely to engage in public discourse that doesn’t result in tangible outcomes.


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Their ability to adapt to changes without much fanfare makes them less noticeable. They were the latchkey kids who learned to take care of themselves at a young age. They were the first generation to move from playing outside to computers and video games. They were the first generation to switch from payphone calls to their parents to cell phones. And they did all this without a trophy or a social media shoutout.

Values Stability

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Having experienced both the pre-digital and digital ages, they value stability, which doesn’t always make headlines. MediaCulture points out, “This longing originates from their formative years, which were marked by significant social changes brought about by events like the AIDS crisis that began in 1981 and global events like the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.”

No Major Social Movements

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Unlike Boomers or Millennials, Gen X didn’t have a defining social movement, making their collective voice less prominent. They were born at the tail end of many major social movements for civil rights, feminism, and much more. Their parents had been out protesting and making statements, while they enjoyed the fruits of their labors. Then social movements started getting loud again, with Millennials and social media giving everyone a voice.

Subcultural Diversity

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The generation is marked by a diversity of subcultures rather than a unified cultural identity, making it harder to categorize and thus remember. Some of the many cultural influences on Gen X youth included a proliferation of musical genres with strong social-tribal identities, such as alternative rock, hip hop, punk, post-punk, heavy metal, grunge, grindcore, and related genres.

Economic Contributions Overlooked

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Despite being in leadership roles and contributing significantly to the economy, their contributions are often overshadowed by discussions about Boomers’ retirement and Gen Z’s entry into the workforce. Millennials also left a huge footprint on the workplace by changing the Boomer and Gen X style of work from standard hierarchies to a more collaborative workplace.

Less Exploitable by Marketers

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Their cynicism and smaller numbers make them less attractive to marketers, leading to less media representation. Marketers still focus their advertisements on the retiring Boomers and Millennials because they have larger numbers than Gen X and more money than Gen Z.

Nostalgia for a Different Era

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Gen Z is bringing back the trends of Y2K, while Gen X misses their young adulthood. Their nostalgia for the ’80s and ’90s doesn’t resonate as strongly with the current cultural fascination with the digital and social media eras.

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