Gen-X: On A Quest
Excerpt from 'The Future is X', the new book by Mal Fletcher
Generations are like individuals: they pass through phases, from childhood, to rising adulthood, to middle age, to elder-status.
Each generation possesses its own ‘personality’, which is shaped in part by the experiences of its childhood and youth. In a similar way, understanding a generation’s ‘personality’, can help us project ahead to discover something of its future influence.
This is the theme of my new book 'The Future is X'.
Gen-Xer, what is the ‘personality’ of your generation? How can we describe it? Where is your generation positioned right now?
If you’re a Gen-Xer, your generation believes that the journey is as important as the arrival – perhaps even more so.
Moving through a process of discovery is often more consequential than actually arriving somewhere. The constant quest for truth is more significant than finding truth.
This explains why we see so many TV programs which feature intrepid presenters who take us on a ‘journey of discovery’. You know the way this works: at the start of the show, the host fakes innocence and ignorance, inviting you to learn with them.
You know full well that the presenter is already more familiar with their subject than they’re letting on, but you’re happy to go along with the ruse, because the idea of the journey itself is enticing. The theme of the program almost doesn’t matter: subject means little, quest is everything.
In 'The Future is X', I note that Gen-X is sensitive to the real. In your school days, you invented the catch cry ‘Get real!’
You have carried WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) way beyond its original application to computer-technology.
Now, it’s an adjective for the kind of world you want to build: a place where people are genuine, where everyone knows what they can count on.
As a Gen-Xer, you have grown up under the spell-binding influence of some of history’s most convincing story-tellers; artisans who use words, music and the wonders of cinematic light and sound to dazzle you and carry you off to far-flung times and places.
Raised under the influence of special effects magicians, you are very aware of the difference between the fake and the real. You’re always instinctively on the look-out for the one posing as the other.
Excellence of performance is less important for you than it has been for your Boomer forebears. Boomers celebrate great performance. For you, great performance is assumed, especially if you’re paying for it.
You demand more than a great show: you want to see the person behind the craft; the man behind the music; the heart behind the harp.
Generation-X is generally eclectic in its outlook, too. Xers try to bring together many belief systems, and then extract meaningful life principles from the mixture. When it comes to religious belief, loyalty to one church, or even one theological system, is alien to their consciousness.
In 'The Future is X', we look at what this means for the church.
As a Gen-X person, you might buy into the new book by doctor somebody-with-an-eastern-sounding-name, even though you know that most of what he or she offers is empty psycho-babble.
You’re willing to put up with the rubbish, if you can find just one or two gems; a few tips which you find useful and can adapt for your own designer religion.
Though Gen-X largely considers itself to be irreligious – it is proud of its secular pragmatism – many Gen-Xers are willing to make spiritual commitments.
But they won’t attach themselves to institutionalised systems. For this generation, commitments are made not to organisations but to very personal spiritual journeys.
If you’re a Gen-Xer, you probably have problems fitting into – or even justifying the existence of – existing religious systems.
So your peers try to create their own structures of spirituality to help them cope with life’s confusing realities.
For your generation, spirituality and religious belief are useful coping mechanisms. They may add value to life but they are not the central thing, the core around which all else revolves.
If you've enjoyed this article, why not read the entire book? Mal Fletcher’s 'The Future is X': click here to download your e-Book copy today!