The Social Responsibility of Generation X
In the last 2 years, a large inter-generational transfer has taken place in our society. Baby boomers gradually gave way to new generations, the majority of whom were digital natives; and for the first time, Generation X holds the balance of power.
After waiting their turn in the anti-chamber for nearly thirty years, climbing the ladder one by one, they are now finally giving the orders. Now they occupy the majority of decision-making positions within large companies and organizations, and the recent election of Justin Trudeau as new Prime Minister of Canada, places them permanently in the forefront.
In the coming years, however, they will have a social role to take. They will have to bear the burden and responsibility of social and digital transformation of enterprises and organizations. And if boomers now hold the keys, they will in turn pass them on to new generations to assume their new leadership role.
Family at Work, the first high-tech leaders
Even if the task before them is arduous and lengthy, the current context has still unfolded favorably for Generation X. These are the first tech leaders. They saw the arrival of the Internet and personal computers, and they grew up with Douglas Coupland, Max Headroom, Nirvana, iPods and MTV. Gen X has the second fastest growing social media adoption, just behind the Gen Y. Almost 40% regularly buy on the Internet and spend an average of almost $400 a month. They still watch television, but almost 90% are on social networks, where they spend an average of 23 hours a week. Today, they integrate these new technological concepts more easily than their predecessors in work environments.
Caught between baby boomers, who were delaying retirement for economic reasons, and the new generations who crash-landed into the labor market with their new ideas of work/like balance and game breaks during work hours, they fully deserve their rightful place. Often at the expense of their relationships and families, they patiently acquired the education and develop the skills to claim the positions they now occupy.
As a family, they also became the first Hi-Tech parents, guiding their children in their digital learning. They also share many new ideological approaches with Y and Z generations, particularly in terms of gender parity, the blending of cultures and environmental protection. They experienced the nuclear threat with Three Mile Island, the first large scale environmental disaster with the Exxon Valdez, and the specter of AIDS. But they have also known the advent of feminism, the end of the cold war and globalization, on their way to became ‘world citizens’.
The election of Justin Trudeau in Canada
On November 4, Canada elected a new Prime Minister – at 43 years old (his 44th birthday on Christmas Eve), and elected with a comfortable majority, he is a true representative of Generation X. .Justin Pierre James Trudeau became the 23th leader of the country, and one of the youngest members of the G7 after Matteo Renzi (the Italian Republic) and the late John F. Kennedy, who was the same age as him when he became president of the United States of America. He survived the escapades of his senior/baby boomer parents. Despite a United States embargo, his father continued to maintain relations with Fidel Castro and Cuba, while his mother (29 years her husband’s junior), was scandalized by her affairs with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones.
Throughout his political career, he and his team have shown very good control of his public image via new media. It especially shows a new openness on the part of a political leader who brings a breath of fresh air and hope, and also rallied many of the observers of the international scene. The day he was sworn in as Prime Minister, Forbes magazine named him in 69th place in its list of most influential people in the world (source Wikipedia), the 4th highest of any Canadian. Just weeks after his election, he has created a new Trudeaumania, making headlines in the news media, not only in Canada but around the world.
Even those who did not vote for him in the last election (like me) now welcome the new ideas he brings to the political world. Half of the ministers he appointed to his Cabinet are women, as are two indiginous people, and he has promised innovative social reforms – particularly the legalization of marijuana. Some have accused him of focusing too much on this new popularity, but it strongly embodies and represents the values of his generation – Gen X.
Promoting the integration of new generations
With the arrival in power of X, the generation gap has faded, and the ideal conditions for inter-generational transfers has finally been met. Former (and still current) leaders of the Boomer Geneeration are either retiring or shifting into mentor roles within organizations, and this has spurred changes within corporations. Finally at the helm, Generation X more easily share the ideas of the newer generations within their organization.
Since 2014, four generations have been in the workforce simultaneously, but even if the new generations outweigh X in their numbers, over a quarter of them are unemployed. And, according to the latest data from the Urban Institute, Millennials begin their adult life 16% less fortunate than Gen X were at their age. However, as they are now entering their 30s, it is they who are starting to form new families of tomorrow.
Generation X, now at the helm, will have a double social role to take. They will bear the social burden of Seniors unprepared for retirement, while promoting further the development and fulfillment of the new generations. They will set the employability of new generations a priority, integrating the changes to make that possible.
In the digital age, if we want to build for the future, we must stop looking at the past with the rose-tinted glasses. We must turn to new generations and enable them to achieve. The future of our society depends on it!
What do you think? Do you believe that Generation X has an important role to play in the digital society? Share your idea on the subject with our readers.
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