The Overlooked Middle Children of American Society

Tom Ross
4 min readSep 23



Crafting an article about Generation X poses a unique challenge, primarily due to its relatively small percentage of the American population. Yet, within this modest demographic, there lies a wealth of experiences, perspectives, and stories that often go overlooked. In this article, we aim to shine a light on the lives and experiences of Generation X, offering a chance for those belonging to this generation — even if it’s just two or three of us — to feel appreciated, if only for a moment before we are distracted by Boomer parents needing the medication refilled or Millennial kids needing us to do their laundry. This article seeks to provide a moment of reflection and recognition for the unsung heroes of Generation X.

The Generational Pendulum

Why GenX Parents Do Millennial Laundry

One noticeable phenomenon in American society is how parenting styles and cultural dynamics have shifted with each generation. Generation X parents have often overcompensated with their children due to their own experiences as children of Baby Boomers. Growing up during the 1960s and 1970s, GenX individuals often felt neglected as their Boomer parents pursued newfound freedoms and social changes. The counter to this was the rise of the “Helicopter Parent”. This sense of neglect and their parents’ quest for independence led to GenX children being portrayed as villains in iconic films like “The Omen,” “The Exorcist,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” and “Village of the Damned.”

These films reflected the anxieties of the time, as Boomers grappled with parenthood while trying to maintain their youthful progress. GenX children internalized these portrayals, feeling that their parents viewed them as obstacles to their own desires and aspirations. This complex interplay between generations influenced both parenting styles and cultural narratives during that period.

Robert Smith of The Cure

Understanding Insecurities and Projection

In an age when self-centeredness appears to be on the rise, it’s crucial to explore the generational dynamics at play and seek solutions to foster empathy and understanding. The Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias where individuals with limited abilities overestimate their competence, when coupled with narcissism, leads to projecting insecurities onto others. Those who engage in insults and belittlement may be doing so to deflect from their own limitations, driven by an inflated ego.

The Influence of the “Selfie Generation”

The “Selfie Generation” typically refers to Millennials and Generation Z, who have grown up in an era of constant self-expression and validation through social media. However, it’s crucial to consider the generational dynamics at play, especially given the unique role of Generation X.

Generation X: The Middle Children

Born roughly between the early 1960s and early 1980s, Generation X occupies a unique stratum in American society. They find themselves sandwiched between the colossal Baby Boomer generation, their older siblings, and the vast cohort of Millennials and younger generations, their younger siblings. This places them squarely as the middle children of the nation.

Much like middle children in a family’s birth order, Generation X has often been overlooked by mass media and marketing. However, this oversight masks their profound influence on the world, not dissimilar to latchkey kids left to their own devices, shaping their destinies.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

The Trailblazers of Technology

Left to their own devices, Generation X was a pioneering generation. They came of age during the technological revolution and played a pivotal role in inventing many of the technologies we rely on today. From the personal computer revolution to the birth of the internet, Generation X was at the forefront, creating the digital landscape we now navigate.

Reality Bites (1994)

Solutions for a More Empathetic Society

  1. Promote Empathy and Emotional Intelligence
    Incorporating emotional intelligence training in schools and workplaces helps individuals understand and manage their emotions, fostering empathy and reducing self-centeredness, vital in our interconnected world.
  2. Media Literacy and Critical Thinking Education
    Early education should include media literacy and critical thinking courses, enabling individuals to discern fact from fiction and think critically about information sources. This combats misinformation and self-centered ideologies.
  3. Mentoring and Inter-Generational Dialogue
    Facilitate mentorship programs where Generation X can share their experiences and values. Open dialogue between generations bridges gaps in understanding and promotes mutual respect, leveraging the wisdom of Generation X to guide younger generations.


Addressing self-centeredness in society, exacerbated by the Dunning-Kruger effect and influenced by Baby Boomers, is a complex challenge. Generation X, despite being the overlooked middle children of American society, played a pivotal role in shaping the technological landscape we inhabit today. Recognizing their contributions and fostering inter-generational understanding is key to a more empathetic and informed society, where every generation learns from one another’s experiences.

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