Meet Eric, Our Gen Xer
What do you remember from your formative years?
I asked myself this question as I didn't know how to begin an introduction about "my generation." So I sat at my laptop, closed my eyes, and opened my memory bank from the last four decades. I was born in 1973...what do I remember? What do I remember...
In an instant, a flood of emotional images washed over me. From playing with Shrinky Dinks, Smurfs, and Star Wars figures while watching "Little House on the Prairie" during my elementary school era to hearing Duran Duran on the radio while rolling a 12-sided-die playing Dungeons & Dragons with my brother in middle school to my attempts of holding back zits with Clearasil pads, wantonly watching "Weird Science," and getting a copy of the Violent Femms (on cassette tape) from my friend Nikki during high school, to thinking "Friends" was the coolest show on TV during college, an untold array of distinctive memories flashed by from the hazy 70's, the awkward 80's and the I'm-grown-up-now-(kinda)-90's.
With modern music, film and TV beginning in the 1950's, we grew up hearing, experiencing and understanding the cultural references of our Baby Boomer and Silent Generation parents. I couldn't escape my Dad's love of Westerns or my Mom's passion for The Eagles and Joe Cocker. We were then coming of age when music, TV, film, and books expanded exponentially in the late 1970's through the early 90's.
I've always thought of us Gen X'ers as the "bridge generation." We've been caught in the middle of an incredibly dynamic shift in consumer technology and the entertainment for the last 30+ years. For example...
We were coming of age when cable TV was introduced and we were renting video cassettes for our Beta or VHS players from hometown owner-operator stores with names like, "Jimmy's Video" to eventually seeing cassette technology demise, DVD's stepping into the void, movies streaming from Hulu and Netflix to retailers like Hollywood Video and Borders dying.
I remember buying vinyl albums (my first one was the "Cars Greatest Hits"). Yes, I had a record player in my room. I then remember buying cassette tapes (my first one being "Falco 3")*. Then onto CD's, MP3's, and now I see friends downloading songs from iTunes like crack junkies. *My family skipped the 8-track phase, but I had an uncle with one in his AMC Gremlin.
I remember making the switch from using my Mom's typewriter (or my buddy Russ' typewriter) to complete a term paper in high school to then using our first home computer. I also remember plunking around on our TI-99 in the 80's to later learning how to set-up a website for my band, Bug Candy, in the 1990's to now running StageofLife.com.
I remember talking with my Grandmother on our rotary-dial wall phone with the 15 foot spiral cord. During high school, I took our first cordless phone up to my room to have late conversations with my girlfriend, Becky (now wife). I wore a pager in college (ugh!). I got a cell phone. And now I Google Talk and Skype for my business...for free. Oh...I remember slipping my girlfriend hand-written notes between classes when we walked to communicate. Now I text my lovely wife.
Email and the Internet:
But my favorite memory about the technology bridge from our Gen X coming-of-age-period is from the fall of 1992, during college, when my good friend, Chris (we called him Bueller because he looked a lot like Matthew Broderick from the iconic Gex X movie, "Ferris Beuller's Day Off"), had just stepped out of the first orientation session about student email being rolled out at the University of Minnesota and he commented, "Huh...this email thing sounds...neat."
And that comment from my buddy Bueller about sums it up.
Yeah...these changes we've been experiencing are pretty neat. We've been there...all of us Gen X'ers...as the bridge generation during an incredibly dynamic shift in technology and arts & entertainment. What do you remember from your Gen X childhood and coming of age? Please share your story here on StageofLife.com.
CEO for StageofLife.com
P.s. I have to acknowledge it, even though it doesn't fit the focus of this piece being about technology and culture, but historically, we are also the first generation that did not have to face or worry about a draft. We've been called Slackers. But I feel our generation, because of its bridge position between the Baby Boomers and the Gen Y/Gen Z generations, possesses a unique point-of-view on this world, our culture, and where it's going as we all head over the hill....which I'll be doing soon (psst...don't tell anyone...I still feel 29).