3.07.16: Why Gen X Gets Ignored & In Defense of Small Talk

Mar 7, 2016

Baby Boomers like to thumb their nose at Millennials for being entitled narcissists who refuse to grow up, and Millennials tend to poo-poo the Boomers because they're out of touch old folks. But one group seems to get left out of the conversation entirely. Today, what ever happened to Generation X?

Then, many people would rather just say nothing than take a stab at saying something shallow, boring, or potentially offensive, but small talk does have its merits. So what are they? 

Listen to the full show. 

Why Gen X Gets Ignored

Millennials. How many times have seen this entire demographic labeled as entitled, craving attention, and refusing to grow up? Mostly the focus comes from the other powerful and well-represented cohort of our time: the Baby Boomers.  The Me Generation loves to poke at the Me Me Me Generation.

So who is getting left out of the equation? The increasingly invisible Generation X.

Paul Taylor is author of The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown, a book that he wrote with the Pew Research Center where he is a former executive vice president.  

"Just Roll With It"

We heard from a Millennial who used the StoryCorps App on her smart phone to interview someone from the "silent generation"...her grandfather. This story came from Kara Mastellar and James Kennicott – and you too can help StoryCorps archive the wisdom of generations with the StoryCorps app.

You can listen to this story again at StoryCorps.org

In Defense of Small Talk

Uncomfortable silence?  You could always mention the weather or who won the game. Although to many people, those little pleasantries are no longer fashionable. Many people would rather just say nothing than take a stab at saying something shallow, boring, or potentially offensive -- in other words, making small talk. 

Ruth Graham is a regular Slate contributor, where she recently defended small talk as a crucial social lubricant. She says you're dismissing it, you're either not good at it or just not getting the point.

The Rise and Fall of the Trucker Song

Convoy topped the pop charts in 1975 - an unprecedented crossover hit for classic ‘trucker country’, songs that celebrated men driving 19-wheelers across the nation's freeways as blue collar heroes. In an article for Pacific Standard magazine, Alison Fensterstock looked into the rise and fall of the trucker as an American hero in song.

Related: The American Trucker: A Playlist

Highway Life

For the past 17 years, Richard Higgs has been the co-host of "Folk Salad" a music program on Public Radio Tulsa. But years before he got a gig behind the mic, he sat behind the wheel of a big rig, working as a long-haul trucker. In this piece by producer Abby Wendle for This Land Press, Higgs explains how the perils and isolation of the open road changed him...and not for the better.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org