Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Gen X Chronicles: Part One - The World We Grew Up In

I recently had a chance to visit the Reagan Museum in Simi Valley, CA.  Another name this museum could go by is "The Gen X Chronicles."  There was so much to photograph and write about here, I decided to turn it into a series.  For the better part of a decade during the formative years of Gen X, Reagan was the U.S. president, and this museum documents the things that happened during those years.  These are the events that had a huge impact on the collective psyche of Gen X.   

There is an area of the museum that has a collage of photos of the era when Reagan came into office as President, along with words that described the issues of the time: shortages, gas lines, job issues, unfair taxes, frustration....

For us, there were no golden years.

The Olympics are so important to kids - all our hopes and dreams became manifest in the amazing abilities of athletes we looked up to.  Except for when it got cancelled.  This might have been when the Cold War became more painfully real to kids who could not yet understand it. 

Stagflation: when the inflation rate is high, economics are slow and jobs are few.  An image of an empty factory with the windows busted out.  The purpose of the "Morning in America"  campaign was to address all these troubling issues, but honestly, I don't really remember it ever feeling like a new day. 

This has been a tough existence.

These are just a few images of what was happening in the news in the formative years of Gen X.  As we grew up and became more aware of the world in which we live in, all of this was weighing on our minds along with many other things. 

Unemployment, layoffs, plant closures, double digit inflation.  This is all part of what caused Gen X to become a nomadic generation from childhood.  I remember one year of elementary school when I watched most of my friends move away one by one because their parents had lost their jobs.  Then it was time for me to move away, too, and be the new kid yet again at another school. 

Watching these and other news images as the world distentegrated caused much of the anti-establishment and hypervigilance that became part of us.  The hardest thing about looking at these images is that many of these issues are still a reality.  The recessions we witnessed in our childhoods is now the Great Recession we must deal with as adults.  I saw the Gen X kids on the news picketing and holding up poster board signs demanding their parents' jobs back.  Now I watch them on the news standing in unemployment lines, worrying about how to feed their own kids. 

Got a Gen Xer in your life who tries not to be negative, but often assumes the worst will happen?

Cut them some slack. 

People become who they are for a reason.


(c) 2012 Photos and writing by Chloe/original images from the Reagan Museum.

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