The Generation X and Generation Y Hybrid: For People Turning 30 This Year

Here’s to the Class of 1999 (as well as for anyone else close enough in age to relate this).

We were born between the fall of 1980 and the summer of 1981; currently the ones turning 30 within the next year.  It was us who remember having vinyl records in our house during our early Elementary School days, but by the time we got to Junior High we learned the cool kids were getting CD players.  We remember how in the 3rd grade when The Simpsons came out, our parents hesitated to let us watch it, and now we wonder in amazement that they’re still making new episodes of it, and how tame and polite the show seems now compared next to Family Guy.

During our high school days, we came home and fell asleep to a Saved by the Bell marathon until dinner was ready.  We clearly remember the horrific Columbine shooting in Colorado happening just a few weeks before our high school graduation.  (The event actually happened on my 18th birthday.)


Yes, we remember Teddy Ruxpin and slap bracelets.  We remember when The Ren & Stimpy Show was the coolest show ever.

We are part of Generation X, barely: The last year of Generation X ended in 1981.  That means the new generation, Generation Y, began in 1982, just 7 full months after I was born.  After a motivation speaker at work a few weeks ago gave characteristics of each generation, I confirmed my belief that I’m not a typical Generation X guy; and if anything, I’m more Generation Y.  The caricatured characteristics of the generations (below) are from notes I took while listening to the speaker that day, Dan Baker:

Generation X: 1961-1981

33% of the work force, first generation to get divorced, “latch-key kids”, high-tech, loner, needs to be happy, reward-motivated, blames everyone else for their problems, high work ethic, works the bureaucracy, cold-blooded practical

Generation Y (Millennial): 1982-2001

20% of the work force, lacks people skills, no sense of authority, no sense of boundaries, not intimidated by threats, has no prejudice, not motivated by money, loves to be mentored, learns by mistakes, learns quickly, knows how to trick the system, “so what?” generation, wants to feel special, wants someone to care about them, needs to “be built”, bad listener, good watcher, needs encouragement, not good at having real friendships- partly because they rely so heavily on social networks (texting, facebook, etc.)

I definitely relate with a few Generation X characteristics: I’ve always born more of a loner and am content being that way.  I need to be happy.  I know how to work the bureaucracy.  And because I’m not a black-and-white, cut-and-dry person, I am definitely cold-blooded practical.

But as a whole, more Generation Y traits jumped out at me: I am not intimidated by threats.  I am as little prejudice as I know to be humanly possible.  I am definitely not motivated by money (I have been preached to my whole life that money isn’t everything and that it doesn’t make people happy, and I believe it).  I do love to be mentored, just as I love to mentor.  I totally know how to trick the system; it’s one of my specialties- taking a machete to red tape.  I’m not so good of a good listener, but I’m always watching, even when you don’t want me to.  And I need encouragement.

I “work the bureaucracy” be being faithful and loyal to people for the long run (Gen. X), but I’m not faithful or loyal to the system because I “know how to trick the system” (Gen. Y).  I am “cold-blooded practical” (Gen. X) about all my decisions and opinions, yet because I am motivated by encouragement and want to feel special (Gen. Y), I am not being practical because I am letting my “feelings” control me and allowing others’ opinions of my achievements to become part of the deciding factor of whether or not I am successful in what I do.

So I predict that most other people born around 1981 are in this similar situation where they don’t identify fully with either generation, but instead with elements of both.  And I’m sure the hybrid traits I have adopted are not necessarily the same ones as other people born in 1981.  But I do find it pretty interesting how my way of thinking and outlook on life resemble specific X and Y traits.

So now you know.  It’s official.  You’re Generation X, but there’s a good chance you act and think more like Generation Y.  We’re the in-betweens.  And I think that makes us feel special; which for our generation, is pretty dang important.

21 thoughts on “The Generation X and Generation Y Hybrid: For People Turning 30 This Year

  1. Great article – I couldn’t help laughing about your mention of Teddy Ruxpin. I was just thinking of that toy and how weird it was and wondering if my boyfriend even knew what it was (he was born at the start of X and I was born at the end).


  2. As someone born in 1980, I think anyone born in 1978-1982 is also the last generation that remembers living in the analog age. We remember having to do things before modern technologies — VHS and CDs, pre cell phones and internet, yet we were also young enough that we could adapt quickly.


    • As someone born 1985. I will tell you I started with records & tapes heavily in the late 80s.. Then cd’s starting in the early 90s when I was about 7. I adapted to all the rest as time went on but I too am old enough to not need a cell phone or any modern technology. We got our first computer in 1996, then internet in 1998 when I hit high school.


      • If you were born in 85 then you don’t remember the 80s like someone a few years earlier than you. 85er are Gen Y and there’s nothing you or anybody can say and do to change that. It’s silly to see people born that year or anybody period lumping 85 in Gen X, that’s like a joke. Someone born in 85 and someone born in 86 are the same in terms of their exposure to toy, cartoons, TV shows, pop culture, music, and so on. Their from the same era the generation.


  3. The best name I’ve seen for our group of late-X and early-Y is “Cold Y” — a mish-mash of Gen X and Y characteristics, and just old enough that we have memories from the end of the Cold War.


  4. What a coincidence, my birthday was on Columbine too! I also as born in ’81. I remember watching Columbine unfold on T.V. I’ve noticed that a lot of bad stuff happens on or around my birthday. I’m not going to go into detail but look it up. I was on spring vacation when it happened but when I got back I was interrogated by the administration of the school very harshly. I admit I was a loner and got bullied a lot at school, but I wasn’t going to shoot anybody. The though had crossed my mine, but then again, who hasn’t thought about doing that?


  5. Couldn’t agree more. Born in May 1981 I feel like I’m on a lie where I relate to both generations. School was like freaks and geeks, but computers were starting to change things, I was proud to be a nerd, and I think people on this age group were among the first to embrace it and not try to fit in or hide it. Definitely makes sense.


  6. totally depressed now. I remember being in senior year high school and having received a long leather trench coat for Christmas that year. I was so excited as the only girl with a long black real leather coat and knee high boots (no, I didn’t look like a hooker) but a few months later and poof, I went from awesome to being suspicious. We were one of the few local schools that didn’t ban trench coats that year. My teachers loved me, the the ones that didn’t know me were ready to bean me over the head if I looked at them sideways.


  7. I like this article. I was born in January 1981 and I always felt like people within 2-3 years of my age grew up in the “tech boom.” When I was young we had a rotary phone, a record player, and an Atari 2600. In school we learned DOS commands on Apple II’s. By the time I was in middle school we had our first computer with Windows 3.1, a few years later we had Windows 95 and the internet. We weren’t “digital natives” so to speak but we certainly embraced it, and it was huge.


  8. I was born in 1980. My memory is good starting in 84 and I can slightly remember maybe a year prior to that. I remember Dallas being on t.v Friday nights, rotary phones were still common and there were record stores all over. Walkmans, cassette tapes and t.v’s with the rotary dials could still be bought in stores though they were being phased out. I remember seeing 8-track players around, they weren’t in stores anymore but you might see them at your house or someone else’s. I have a 1988 Quasar t.v in my attic with the rotary dial and the manufacturing date on it, It was a Xmas present at the time. CD’s weren’t too common, they existed then but the whole CD phase started about 1990 although you could buy a player around 1983 and on. A 1987 episode of the $100,000 pyramid Dick Clark talks about CD players and one guest who was into music didn’t even own one, He was a celebrity I forgot his name though I am sure it is on YouTube. In the early 80s, the phone company still owned your phone that’s right the actual phone, you basically rented it and you couldn’t use a non Bell System phone. The phone would work, but by the rules at the time you had to use the phone issued by the phone company. Just for laughs, I remember hearing panic in the house if a non Bell System phone was used. Eventually, the government stopped that. My first teeth cleaning was in 84, could have been 83 but I remember going to the dentist when it was bright and warm outside. Radio Shack and Toy stores, that’s what we liked. VCR’s, had a Panasonic, it was silver in 84 or 85 cost about $400 I think. The first P.C I used was an Apple IIe and it used the floppy disk, not a diskette but an actual floppy. I remember the price tags for P.C’s at Radio Shack, Sears, Wards…geez! Brick phones and briefcase phones, we didn’t have one but I remember seeing them, I had a walkie-talkie that was designed exactly like a brick phone but it was just a walkie-talkie. Pagers also known as Beepers were as common as the smartphone is today.

    Saturday morning cartoons, that was the only time when I was a kid that I actually woke up before 7 a.m. Cable T.V was common and I remember all the talk about AIDS on T.V in 85 and onward. Hotwheels commercials, toy commercials were common. I watched MTV all the time until I was about 7 and then started again when I was 12. Remember Beavis and Butthead? Ren and Stimpy on Nickelodeon? I remember watching the Challenger accident and hearing the screams down the school hallways. Now in the 80s you still saw a lot of cars from the 70s but they were usually rusted out and some people still wore fashions from that period. I remember people wearing eyeglass frames, the thick black frames that were from the 60s! They were usually senior citizens. Had relatives and neighbors who were from the Lost and G-I Generations still around, I remember them. Polaroid instant cameras, still have mine. It came from K-Mart in 1991. It was 10 bucks for one cartridge and you only got 10 instants! American Gladiators was on Saturday mornings in the early 90s. Got my first stereo/CD player in March 1994. Now T.V stations until 1981 or 82 would sign off permanently at midnight. I was a baby then but until the mid-90s CBC Canada and PBS stations were the only two that signed off at midnight, every other station was 24 hours. I didn’t get the internet until I was 18. What else can I say? I can add more but I am sure you get the picture 🙂


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