Joking about Generation X Erasure Is Not Funny If We Are Serious about Inclusive Excellence

Generation X erasure

Although I was once a lifetime Steelers fan, I eventually lost my love of the game, resulting in a complete disengagement from professional football. My reasons are multifaceted, centering on how the National Football League perpetuates mistreatment and injustice.

A few examples include:

These instances and allegations are enough for me to “tap out” of the entire enterprise.

From my perspective, discriminatory and racist “root rot” runs deep within the NFL’s organizational DNA and is seemingly impenetrable.

For these reasons, I decided to bow out of watching the Super Bowl this year, for the first time ever. I missed the halftime show despite the performers being some of my favorites. Still, I read and saw many gleeful videos and social media postings of people enjoying the show, which I found incredibly heartwarming.

Each Super Bowl halftime show performer has had their share of personal and professional difficulties over the years. I imagine that many of us of a certain age have had similar struggles. So, I suppose that it was powerful seeing these performers thrive, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

But of course, no good deed goes unpunished. To my surprise, a generational social media tussle exploded when NBC News posted a tweet celebrating the Super Bowl halftime as a triumph for Millennials:

NBC tweet about 2022 Superbowl Halftime show


Many Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1980) on Twitter were quite surprised by the proclamation since four of the five performers are members of this generation. Others elected to again raise the issue of Generation X erasure as troublesome and frustrating, a topic we have been discussing for nearly a decade.

Tweet clarifying Generation X from Millenials
Tweet about Generation X erasure
Tweet about Generation X

Like many of you, I have heard all the jokes about Generation X being the “invisible” generation. As a Gen Xer myself, I have participated in banter about how, as the latchkey generation and the economic recovery generation, our resiliency makes us the best generation (smile).

But recently I have begun to explore some possible negative, hidden impacts of the erasure of Generation X, pondering such questions as:

Is this erasure contributing to an assortment of behaviors that create toxic work environments?

Does the absence of quantitative and quantitative research studies on Generation X’s professional motivations produce vacancy in our collective understanding of ways to plan for the future of work strategically?

I do not have any good answers or fixable solutions at this moment.

Yet, I want to amplify one key point: the erasure of any generation must be of concern to those of us committed to supporting and advancing diversity. Generation X is the majority within the managerial ranks of many professions according to 2018 data, constituting approximately 65 million people in the United States according to current data from the United States Census Bureau.

If we are serious about striving toward inclusive excellence (especially within higher education), it is time for us to take on the critical task of multi-generational engagement. 

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Header image is a detail of This is Harlem by Jacob Lawrence. Courtesy of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. © 2021 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. For more information, click here.