Here’s a take: I don’t think Gen-X ever really believed we would get out of this world without experiencing a nuclear war.
At one point in high school I’d been put into the “gifted and talented” program (I later had myself removed from it) and our English teacher went on a real nuclear kick. This was during the days of The Day After and Testament. She additionally heaped upon us having to read Alas, Babylon, at which point we rebelled, and refused. We’d had enough. For the rest of the time the book was meant to be the subject of class, she had us just sit quietly and do The New York Times crossword.
Moments like this, I think, for a lot of Gen-X isn’t just about the moment, it’s about being bombarded with dramatizations of the threat of nuclear war over and over in the 1980s.
There’s at least a tiny bit of post-traumatic stress. And, I guess, a little bit of resignation.