If you like generational talk, visit this blog

Published 8:32 am Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A popular blogger liked my column last week, and she featured my column “The baby boomers are not a bunch of hippies.”

As I read the blog GenerationXpert.com, written by Suzanne Kart, I found several interesting points about Generation X and wanted to share them with you.

“Does eating Froot Loops make you immature?” is one entry. She writes:

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“The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Gen X men don’t fully reach maturity until age 34 — and that their interest in video games, comic books and sugary breakfast cereal is a sign that they are not gracefully entering adulthood.

“What’s clear here: Some people just don’t get it.

“Are Gen X men refusing to grow up — or are they just more active fathers? I would argue the latter.

“Smoking a pipe, sipping Scotch, and wearing matching pajamas does not a grown-up make. Although it is true that Xers are reaching middle age later than previous generations, a bowl of cereal does not determine your level of maturity. In fact, some people argue that Gen Xers’ alternative approach to adulthood is actually what will ‘save the world.’”

Then she links to a YouTube video from author Jeff Gordinier, who talks about his book “Gen X Saves the World.” His book argues that Generation X is doing the quiet work to keep the world running smoothly. He says while baby boomers and the millennials (mostly children of baby boomers) are fighting over the limelight, in between are the Gen Xers who don’t really need the limelight and are quietly making the major advances. (Some Gen Xers are early kids of baby boomers, but I’m told most of them are later children of the Silent Generation.)

Gordinier points to such revolutionary companies as Google, Amazon, Craigslist, MySpace and Wikipedia as inventions of Generation X. He says Gen Xers are detached, quiet, questioning, skeptical and concerned with the “improvement of the small world we live in.” Gen Xers pursue careers for the quality of life, the good it does for people or even for the art, while baby boomers and millennials, he says, are in it just for the money.

He says Gen Xers hate all the mythology of the baby boomers and are sick are hearing stupid arguments over such things as why Paul McCartney is barefoot on the “Abbey Road” cover. He says Gen Xers are outcome-focused and have made workplaces more effective and efficient.

“The thing about Gen Xers, they are making an impact without having to throw a parade about it,” Gordinier says in the YouTube video.

Kart has another blog entry titled “Can retired boomers compete in a Gen X-led workforce?”

“A new Web site is trying to levy support for retiring baby boomers who want to start on their second career. The question is: Can they hack it in a Gen X-led workforce?

“Xers are outcome-focused. Boomers like to talk process — a lot. With boomers in charge, Xers have learned to work with it. But when boomers retire from their ‘first’ career, it will be Xers who take their place. Is it payback time?

“Frankly, Xers are different than boomers. And Xers are never going to grow into boomers. It will be hard for boomers to fit into this new workplace. They may have second careers — but almost all will focus on offering some type of service to other boomers. It’s hard to imagine an Xer hiring a boomer, when they could hire an Xer who will just get the job done.”

I tell you what. I love that entry. I couldn’t agree more.

The blog GenerationXpert also cites a ezine article about how some millennials are passing themselves off as older, tech-savvy Gen Xers so they can pretend they have management experience.

Another talks more about the outcome-focused nature of Gen Xers, and points out Larry the Cable Guy is a Gen Xer. He says, “Git ’er done.” It links to a blog called “Next Generation Professional Development” by Jason Seidel, who talks about the Generation X’s dark humor, unwillingness to be defined and similarity to Sherpas.

“Like Gen X, Sherpas have long been part of incredible journeys, but they’ve always been just a step to the side, never in the limelight and never really part of the action. Defining the Sherpa who carried Sir Edmund Hillary’s pack for him up Mount Everest would have taken the spotlight off Sir Hillary, and that might have ruined the romance and majesty of the trek. Focus too heavily on Tonto, and the mystique of the ‘Lone’ Ranger falls apart. I felt like maybe society on the whole needs us to be undefined. We’re the ones laying the ladders over the crevasses, scoping the paths, installing the ropes, taking over for the boomers who were happy to establish base camp and prepping the pass for the Gen Yers who we already know want to hit the peak.”

He mentions some traits, then says this:

“We’re not in the old world, and we’re not yet in the new. We are very much in between, and it’s up to Gen X to lay the foundation that gets us from the former to the latter.

“America’s economic Sherpas.”

OK, I’ll stop here.

One last thing: Kart “has more than 10 years experience writing, speaking and studying generational communications,” her blog, GenerationXpert.com, says.

Tribune Managing Editor Tim Engstrom’s column appears every Tuesday.