If you were born between 1977 and 1985, you may feel a little disconnected. The nine-year gap members might not feel like a part of the Millennial generation, but also do not technically qualify as “baby boomers.” While the barely-decade group does not actually qualify as a separate generation, they do share some unique qualifications. Meet the “Xennials,” a new term that describes that unique group. Think you might qualify? Read on to find out.
Xennials represent a smaller generation than others
Jeff Gordinier wrote X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft But Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking about his generation. The so-called “sandwich” generation fits between 80 million baby boomers and 78 million millennials. But Generation X includes just 46 million members. That led Gordinier to call it the dark-horse demographic, “condemned by numbers alone to nicheville.”
Next: Some Xennials want their historic due.
Why do the Baby Boomers and Millennials get all the attention?
“I don’t really understand the tyranny of the boomer moment,” Gordinier said in his book. “Great, you had a party in Haight-Ashbury in 1967. I’m thrilled for you. Can we hear about the flappers in the 1920s instead? How about the Great Depression? There’s other times in history that are interesting.” The Xennials lived through lots of events as well, just like every generation. And they bring their own unique perspective to things.
“Instead of getting free love, we got AIDS,” Douglas Rushkoff, author of 1993’s GenX Reader, told TIME. “We didn’t believe the same kind of things as boomers. It was much harder to fool us.”
Next: Xennials also seem harder to define.
The term’s origin comes under dispute
Nobody quite knows who first coined the term, or when it came into being. For a long time, it went falsely attributed to the Australian sociologist Dan Woodman. Author Sarah Stankorb claims she first used the word in an essay for Good in 2014. But whoever came up with it, totally got the idea.
Next: Xennials embody some pretty unique characteristics.
What makes a Xennial?
Experts say it makes logical sense that the psychological makeup of the typical Xennial fits in somewhere between the typical Millennial and the members of Gen X. Woodman told Mamamia that his generation sits “between the Gen X group – who we think of as the depressed flannelette-shirt wearing, grunge-listening children that came after the Baby Boomers and the Millennials – who get described as optimistic, tech savvy and maybe a little bit too sure of themselves and too confident.” In other words, Xennials do not match those stereotypes, for a few important reasons.
Next: One aspect of life we take for granted came of age with this generation.
Technology grew with this generation
Woodman explained that the way Xennials interact with technology, in particular, makes them unique. “You have a childhood, youth, and adolescence free of having to worry about social media posts and mobile phones,” he explained. Instead, Xennials had to use the landline, meet up in person, or generally engage more directly than some Millennials grew up doing.
“Then we hit this technology revolution before we were maybe in that frazzled period of our life with kids and no time to learn anything new,” he explained. “We hit it where we could still adopt in a selective way the new technologies.” Since Xennials essentially came of age with technology, they adapted to it better than Boomers, without needing it like Millennials.
Next: Some Xennials really love having that label.
For the sandwich generation, it helps them fit in
One author wrote in Good that the Xennial distinction gives voice to an in-between group of people. “Like many who lie between Generation X and Millennial, born roughly between the tail-end of the Carter administration and the ascendency of the Reagan Revolution, I often found myself wanting to identify with one category or the other,” she wrote. “But I would argue that being at that cusp has offered better (if not always excellent) fortune to Xennials than what’s experienced by the generations on either side of our birth years.”
Next: Xennials see the world in a unique sense.
Xennials experiences the world as more fractured
Steve Gillon, author of Boomer Nations, said he believes people born between 1946-1964 represent the last to experience a unified national culture. “If you grew up in the ’50s and ’60s, you came of age at the same time that national culture first developed,” he explained. “There were three major TV networks. Everyone was watching the same thing. The assassination of JFK, for instance, was the first event the nation experienced in real time at the same time.” For Xennials and those who come after, the wealth of media and technology sets us apart more than it connects us, in many ways.
Next: But who do these labels really serve?
Some experts caution against sticking too tightly to labels
Sociologists and demographers use these generation labels to categorize people. That does not mean they have to fit, for you. Woodman told Mamamia they can also sometimes serve as a product of market researchers who want to define us and sell to us. “It gets too simple sometimes and it treats everybody who lives under a certain set of conditions as if they’re exactly the same,” he explained.
Next: Maybe you do fit in, after all.
Are you a Xennial?
The Xennial generation gets defined by a certain set of characteristics, and a lot of those can depend on the individual. Do you fit the mold? Take this quiz to find out!
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