Here’s an existential question: If video killed the radio star, then what killed the video star? The surprising answer may be public media.
Generation X - or Gen Xers as they’re commonly called - comprise a demographic born roughly between the mid to early 60s and the early 80s. The dates differ according to demographer. As a child born in December, 1969, while barely squeaking into the 60s, I fall smack in the middle of the Xers.
Author Douglas Coupland is generally credited with coining the term Generation X, from his 1991 novel named Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture.
We like to think of ourselves as a generation defined by our coming of age years in the 70s and 80s: of MTV and Lollapalooza; Dungeons and Dragons and Space Invaders. We’re identified by our affinity for Seinfeld and Friends and shows about nothing and hanging-out. Movies that defined us when we were younger were the early 90s films Slackers and Swingers.
Now we’re aging – still sandwiched between two more populous generations: the Baby Boomers and the Millennials. And we’re still tying to find our place in the world.
The very youngest Boomers are now in their mid-50s. There’s no expectation in the work place that they’ve kept abreast of all the latest technologies, and although many of them have, most - if not all - will be able to retire if they want to - without ever having fully mastered the technology that surrounds us.
Millennials are of course digital natives. The very oldest are now in their mid-30s and likely have a hard time remembering the dark times before the Internet - while the youngest, now in their mid-teens, probably can’t remember the pre-history before touch screens. Using technology for them is generally seamless and organic.
Generation X isn’t old enough to have a valid - or at least plausible - excuse for a less-than-full embrace of technology, and not young enough to remember when technology wasn’t always part of life. Maybe that’s why a recent Nielsen rating demonstrates that Gen Xers are helping fuel a surge in public media consumption.
Maybe we’re re-embracing the basics and looking for more assurance and stability.
Or maybe – to borrow a line from the movie Reservoir Dogs – like the Stealers Wheel “Dylanesque, pop, bubble-gum favorite from April of 1974” we’re just - Stuck in the Middle…