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Gen Xers Lead Happy, Balanced Lives
October 25, 2011 4:59 PM   Subscribe

Gen Xers Lead Happy, Balanced Lives - the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research publishes a 'surprisingly positive portrait' of GenX. Here is the full report on the cohort study (PDF).
posted by Argyle (72 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Douglas Coupland was a fucking liar.
posted by R. Schlock at 5:05 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm kinda freaked out that just 3 paragraphs into the report's front page, the author decides to pull out Thomas Friedman as some kind of authority for something who will confer legitimacy and credibility to what follows?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?
posted by Bwithh at 5:05 PM on October 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


PAY ATTENTION MILLENIALS THIS IS HOW IT'S DONE
posted by the theory of revolution at 5:06 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess you could say Gen X turned into shiny happy people holding hands.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:07 PM on October 25, 2011 [17 favorites]


Damn it.
posted by XMLicious at 5:08 PM on October 25, 2011


Well, I'M still an unpleasant dick anyway.
posted by Pecinpah at 5:11 PM on October 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


Good luck with your generational warfare, America.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:12 PM on October 25, 2011


Good luck with your generational warfare, America.

Don't forget class warfare, gender warfare and the wars on drugs and christmas. We're having a hell of a time over here.
posted by bleep at 5:13 PM on October 25, 2011 [14 favorites]


War has also been declared on Halloween, but Gen Xers will smirk knowingly cos, well, Ween.
posted by everichon at 5:17 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm 30. Do I qualify for this or not?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 5:18 PM on October 25, 2011


Wait, are you telling me that the Baby Boomers used up all the midlife crisis? Man, to hell with those people!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:20 PM on October 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


The kids are...all right?
posted by jquinby at 5:20 PM on October 25, 2011


I'm 30. Do I qualify for this or not?

If you were born in 1981, yes.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:24 PM on October 25, 2011


Suck it, Gen Z!
posted by jeanmari at 5:28 PM on October 25, 2011


Douglas Coupland was a fucking liar.

Hey man, don't jump to conclusions. Technically we could all still die in a nuclear holocaust.
posted by Hoopo at 5:28 PM on October 25, 2011


"Gen Xers Lead Happy, Balanced Lives"

Ah fuck, I'm doing it wrong.
posted by MikeMc at 5:29 PM on October 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


They also seem to balance work and family obligations well, the researchers said.

This. My organisation seems to be relying on its most talented Gen Xers to pick up the whip when the baby boomers leave in one big hit over the next few years. They're going to be disappointed.

'Look! Shiny moneys! Car spaces! Slightly larger offices!'
'...I'm listening...'
'But you'll have to work late some ni...'
'Yeah, you can keep it.'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:34 PM on October 25, 2011 [42 favorites]


Nooooo! My precious stereotypes!
posted by munchingzombie at 5:36 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fuckin' A, We Do!
posted by jonmc at 5:37 PM on October 25, 2011


If you were born in 1981, yes.

Awesome, I'm happy and balanced!
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 5:42 PM on October 25, 2011


Deja Vu, the sensation you are doing osmething you've done before.
posted by The Whelk at 5:47 PM on October 25, 2011


YOUR MOTHER
posted by radiosilents at 5:48 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I met Douglas Coupland once. He was nice.
posted by jonmc at 5:48 PM on October 25, 2011


"'Yeah, you can keep it.'"

I once had to sit through a pep talk from a VP with a big house and BMW, he talked about "going the extra mile". Staying late, working through lunch, weekends, working from home etc... He related that he called the CEO every day when he was on vacation. My first thoughts were: "Sucker" and "What kind of fucking vacation is that?"

Later I got a borderline poor review from one of his ambitious minions after I made it clear I had no desire to be like the VP. I'm taking my full hour for lunch, I'm not going to work from home and don't bother calling me when I'm on vacation, I won't be available (and I'm certainly not calling you or checking my e-mail).

No wonder my career arc is suspiciously flat.

Slack on brothers and sisters. Slack on.
posted by MikeMc at 5:55 PM on October 25, 2011 [42 favorites]


I'm overworked and angry do I still get to be Gen X ?
posted by nola at 6:02 PM on October 25, 2011


Gen-X is blessed that Gen-Y seems composed of nothing but sycophantic trend-following underlings who are willing to do anything to please. Gen-X was named because marketers couldn't figure out how to sell us anything. We were too self directed and independent. We liked too many kinds of music and had no common causes. Advertisers worked very hard to change this with Generation-Y. They have lived lives where they were continuously scheduled and directed by others. This makes it easy for Gen-X to sell them shit, and manage them.
posted by humanfont at 6:09 PM on October 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


I do have a more balanced life than my parents did. Look at the economy now. What did all of that scrambling and clawing and putting off enjoyment until retirement get for them?

Yeah, I'll work but also make time to play hard right now. Not in 20 years when I can't enjoy it as much. So I drive an old beater, so what? I have a heck of a lot more fun than that guy burning the night oil in the office on Saturday who is dreaming about his BMW.
posted by jeanmari at 6:11 PM on October 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


1) Douglas Coupland *is* nice. I also met him once.
2) No, people born in 1981 are Generation Catalano.
3) All this generational stuff is for marketing. It makes sense in that context and is annoying in all others.
posted by sweetkid at 6:12 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have lost track of the things I'm supposed to be. Except scared shitless, got that one down.
posted by emjaybee at 6:14 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yay us!
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 6:16 PM on October 25, 2011


Well educated people at the prime of life living in the richest, most powerful country in the world have a pretty good life despite endlessly complaining about how TERRIBLY HARD their lives are compared to EVERYONE ELSE WHO'S EVER LIVED EVER. Who'd have thought it?
posted by joannemullen at 6:19 PM on October 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


On a more sober note, I wonder how much of this happiness is simply due to the fact that Generation X is heading into its forties. I've been following the "Up" series since 28 Up, and found it really interesting how many of the participants who were miserable and angst-ridden at 35 were fairly content with life at 42.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 6:20 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


This makes it easy for Gen-X to sell them shit, and manage them.

Hey, hey, hey, don't be mean. That is no way to build cross-randomly-divided-generational-groupings coalitions to take on the Man.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:21 PM on October 25, 2011


I take my retirement every day. I don't make a whole ton of money but generally pay the bills. I have never, ever, had "team spirit." Pep rallies in school were embarrassing, and they don't get less embarrassing when you're supposed to be cheering and giving your all for some corporation. I've worked long hours but never for a salary--time and a half? Sure, if I've got nothing else going. Paying me straight salary and want me to work late? See you tomorrow morning.

You're young and beautiful once (well, I was young, anyway). Don't waste it.
posted by maxwelton at 6:24 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


simply due to the fact that Generation X is heading into its forties.

I resent your suggestion that my happiness is shallow, and directly related to finally being able to afford all those original Transformer toys I couldn't get when I was a kid.

No, Soundwave, the bad man is going now. Why yes, you can eject Ravage. Tee hee!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:24 PM on October 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


Despite being born in '78 and thus technically qualifying, I've never felt like I belonged in Gen X; none of the various cultural touchstones applied to me.

This, too, fails to apply.
posted by pts at 6:28 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


No, Soundwave, the bad man is going now. Why yes, you can eject Ravage. Tee hee!

I'm more of a Rumble man, myself, but each to his own slack.
posted by KingEdRa at 6:41 PM on October 25, 2011


PRAISE BOB AND PASS THE AUXILIARY SALES BROCHURES
posted by loquacious at 6:45 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


So I'm not unique in being happy with where I ended up in life despite never really trying to do anything? Damn, I was sold a bill of goods.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 6:50 PM on October 25, 2011


"Damn, I was sold a bill of goods."

What? You didn't do anything EXTREME (while slacking and wearing a dorky hat)? What kind of Gen Xer are you?
posted by MikeMc at 6:54 PM on October 25, 2011


News item: People who are too old for angst and restlessness are no longer angstful and restless.
posted by ardgedee at 6:55 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


What? You didn't do anything EXTREME (while slacking and wearing a dorky hat)? What kind of Gen Xer are you?

Well my folks are extremely disappointed that I'm almost 41, still live in a tiny apartment, and still pretty much don't want much more out of life than riding my bike, smoking up a little, and playing beer league softball. Can I keep my plaid shirts now?
posted by Calloused_Foot at 7:00 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


2) No, people born in 1981 are Generation Catalano.

I'm one of those tail-end Gen Xers at the age of 32....and I saw my first episode of My So Called Life just 3 days ago.

I enjoyed it. It was nice to be reminded that yeah, we really did wear clothes that baggy, that flannely, and sported lips that burgandy.
posted by Windigo at 7:13 PM on October 25, 2011


...did?

Wait, I probably don't count since I moved to Seattle.
posted by loquacious at 7:23 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're keeping the dream alive.

*raises fist, raises scrunchy*
posted by Windigo at 7:27 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Can I keep my plaid shirts now?"

A good flannel is worth its weight in Flooz.
posted by MikeMc at 7:28 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK.
posted by crunchland at 7:33 PM on October 25, 2011


2) No, people born in 1981 are Generation Catalano.

No way am I going to be like that schmuck Catalano - I'm generation Rickie.
posted by jb at 8:06 PM on October 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


and 29 percent indicating they were very happy (a score of 9 or 10)

Oh, there it is, especially the 10. No denial there, not a chance.
posted by Brian B. at 8:06 PM on October 25, 2011


I know snark and sarcasm are the weapons of my age cohort, but, seriously, even if it's just hitting middle age/midlife it's nice to hear that many of us are happy. I personally wouldn't rate my life a 10 but it's certainly in the happy to very happy range.

Also, I'm glad that our slacker values have at least somewhat normalized (see: work-life balance, even if companies still want to talk the talk while walking the 24x7-no-overtime walk).
posted by immlass at 8:22 PM on October 25, 2011


News item: People who are too old for angst and restlessness are no longer angstful and restless.

Question: Have you ever met any boomers?
posted by blucevalo at 8:30 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


31-40 > 0-10 > 21-30 > 11-20
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:37 PM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


No way am I going to be like that schmuck Catalano - I'm generation Rickie.

I appear to be generation rayanne graf in all her drunken whackadoodle glory.
posted by elizardbits at 8:47 PM on October 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


People aged 30-45 healthy, stable and prosperous. Film at 11.
posted by mellow seas at 8:49 PM on October 25, 2011


Or, what The Card Cheat said.
posted by mellow seas at 8:49 PM on October 25, 2011


That was a shitty comment, and I can't undo it, but I apologize for it. No generation has a corner on angst, and in this day and age, no generation has any corner on happiness either. Most people are lucky to find happiness anytime in their lives outside of childhood, even if it comes later in life. I consider myself a Gen X'er who stumbled upon happiness without ever expecting to. In that sense, I guess life got the better of me, because I certainly expected to live out my years in the tensed-up, mistrustful, bitter state that I cultivated when I was young (and should have known better).
posted by blucevalo at 8:55 PM on October 25, 2011


I'm also a '78er, but I'm a bit different than the majority of my cohort who either started working right out of highschool (either for someone, or inheriting the family business) or did Uni to get a BA or an engineering/comp-sci degree, or were pretty and married a "professional"/money.

At 33, the vast majority of them are in, at least, the career track, buying a home, starting a family mode (the "getting married" thing seemed to have happened a few years ago when we were 28-29).

A lot of those things are what we've been told that we're "supposed to do" by the time we're 30. And so they're doing it.

Some of them are genuinely happy, some are happy that they're accomplishing what they're supposed to, some think that they're happy, and some aren't.

Some of us got lucky (internet bubble, real estate bubble, family money) and a lot of us (albeit, from middle-uppermiddle class families) got by.

Still, my peers from less well-off families are still less-well off. Can't think of *anyone* who moved over 2x their parent's household income, maybe not even 1.5 - especially taking into account real estate and petroleum price increases. For the people who stayed in Vancouver, most people would be making *less* - given the real estate price increases. Very few moved upwards. If their parents rented, they (the kids) are renting now, generally, if they stayed in town (as opposed to moving away to someplace cheaper, and quite a few did.).

I can't count myself since I'm still a grad student (even in the hard life science, fuck, what a stupid bloody fucking goddamned life choice) but my parents have moved up the economic ladder since my childhood while I've taken a tumble.
posted by porpoise at 8:55 PM on October 25, 2011



I appear to be generation rayanne graf in all her drunken whackadoodle glory


We always used to joke about the fact that they always used their full names when talking about each other -- "Jordan Catalano" "Brian Krakow," "Rayanne Graf" etc. Like what other Jordans were they ever talking about -- "Jordan CATALANO??" "No...Jordan O'Brien...you know, blond guy, plays lacrosse..."
posted by sweetkid at 8:58 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not getting married or having children is my key to success.
posted by bardic at 9:26 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, Soundwave, the bad man is going now. Why yes, you can eject Ravage. Tee hee!

I'm more of a Rumble man, myself, but each to his own slack.


ME GRIMLOCK ADJUSTING WELL TO MID-THIRTIES THANK YOU
posted by eddydamascene at 9:54 PM on October 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


I was born in 1976. I always wondered whether I was Gen X or something later. Now I know.

I'm not Gen X. Fuck all y'all. I'm gettin' my drink on.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:39 PM on October 25, 2011


Gen-X is blessed that Gen-Y seems composed of nothing but sycophantic trend-following underlings who are willing to do anything to please

Boy, is this attitude tiresome.
posted by dismas at 10:42 PM on October 25, 2011


Gen-X is blessed that Gen-Y seems composed of nothing but sycophantic trend-following underlings who are willing to do anything to please

Boy, is this attitude tiresome.

It's sad when Gen Xers imitate baby Boomers.
posted by happyroach at 11:17 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gen-X is blessed that Gen-Y seems composed of nothing but sycophantic trend-following underlings who are willing to do anything to please. Gen-X was named because marketers couldn't figure out how to sell us anything. We were too self directed and independent. We liked too many kinds of music and had no common causes. Advertisers worked very hard to change this with Generation-Y. They have lived lives where they were continuously scheduled and directed by others. This makes it easy for Gen-X to sell them shit, and manage them.

You make us sound like Morlocks.
posted by Ritchie at 3:09 AM on October 26, 2011


Morlocks? I didn't say eat the Millenials.
posted by humanfont at 3:37 AM on October 26, 2011


"The 84 million Americans in this generation between the ages of 30 and 50 are the parents of today's school-aged children," said study researcher Jon Miller, a political scientist at the University of Michigan. "And over the next two or three decades, members of Generation X will lead the nation in the White House and Congress. So it's important to understand their values, history, current challenges and future goals."

This bit made me smile because it so transparently an example of the genre otherwise known as "try to make my research sound important enough to get more grant funding/get this paper published/keep my Dean happy."
posted by lollusc at 4:14 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's sad when Gen Xers imitate baby Boomers.

It's sad when Gen Xers get compared to baby boomers mother-fucking-AGAIN.
posted by readyfreddy at 4:34 AM on October 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here we are now -- entertain us.

Er, wait, actually, it looks like we're already pretty entertained.
posted by foldedfish at 6:39 AM on October 26, 2011


There's a fine line between contentment and resignation is all I'm saying.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:42 AM on October 26, 2011


I blame the Boomers (74')
posted by djseafood at 7:10 AM on October 26, 2011


Gen X turned into their parents and all I got was this Rage Against the Machine t-shirt.
posted by 2bucksplus at 7:58 AM on October 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whatever.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:57 PM on October 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


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