I have grown up in in a world where social interaction both in person and digitally is the perfectly acceptable norm. Where playing outside with your friends under the glow of the street lamp was just as natural as sending your message over the interwaves within 140 characters. I grew up using an encyclopaedia in a library to research school projects and now use Google to research personal ones.
So who does that make me, Millennial or the recently emerging Xennial? Is it possible to be a hybrid and how do these stereotypical labels affect my day-to-day living?
So what is a Millennial?
(Millennials or Gen Y – 1977 to 1995)
Millennials or generation Y’ers are considered to have been born somewhere between the early 80’s and 90’s, the children of the baby boomers (circa 1946-1964). Millennials have gained a lot of momentum in the media over the last few years for both positive and negative reasons, words such as lazy spring to mind with a tendency to move from job to job, asking not what I can do for my job but what can my job do for me? Gen Y is a generation that requires constant feedback and reinforcement while adopting a liberal attitude when it comes to less societally acceptable circumstances once shunned by Gen X and Baby Boomers before them.
It is a generation that is said to have benefited from the Baby Boomers attitude that their own children would have a better life than they did, smaller families and more focused attention. A generation that has grown up seeking approval and being rewarded just for showing up; everyone gets a prize; everyone gets a medal. It sounds fairly negative up to this point and extremely generic but it would be remiss of us to ignore that those born in this era have grown up in a more open minded society, in a world where people have become more accepting of the ideals that buck the norm our parents were used to.
It has been said that this is the me-me-me generation but I would like to think that the generation has had more self awareness and self focus as we as a society become more aware and evolved to discuss and understand personal issues (mental health included) which by our predecessors would have been swept under the carpet as unimportant or weak.
Digitally, Millennials reached adulthood around the same time that technology was peaking and that very technology is considered the biggest selling point of the generation. It is a generation that came of age at the same time as the worldwide web and many don’t recall a time without it…
BUT WHAT IF YOU DO?
I was born in 1984, mid what is labelled as a Millennial. Personally, I don’t feel that I agree with a lot of the characteristics listed beneath the Millennial label. I have never felt entitled, never felt that the world owed me anything nor did I have a lax attitude towards my career and its progression. That said, I would have to say that I do know adults younger than I am, also born within the year ranges provided that DO have these traits and identify with a lot of what is said about being raised and growing up as a Millennial. There are definitely traits that I do agree with, such as being inseparable from my phone and choosing a friend request or a text message over a phone call (I truly despise the phone).
This is where a new term has come in, one for those that felt as though they couldn’t completely identify with the label of Millennial, they didn’t feel part of Generation Y and felt that there needed to be a sub label that would represent a small age range of people – One that I find myself leaning toward as far as labels go, despite being born only one year later than the range allows.
I must be a Xennial.
(Xennials – 1977 to 1983)
An older range of Millennials felt that while they had a myriad of traits in common with their generational counterparts, many characteristics did not seem to fit and there were a few differences that set apart this small range of 6 years (now aged between 34 to 40) from the others. The term Millennial has been ditched and instead, Xennial has taken over.
A Xennial is someone who grew up in and confidently remembers an analogue age but as they grew older was eased into the digital age. These are people that spent primary school making mix tapes and listening to Walkman’s but somewhere mid high school, had their first mobile phone and access to both book and PC encyclopaedias. This is a group of people that aren’t really Millennials in that they have memory of this early analogue age, but not quite the generation before them (Generation X) that have had to learn digital as an older adult. A group of people that grew up writing letters, using a landline phone (The worst!) and there was no such thing as an HD TV but grew accustomed to social media and their limited dependence on it.
A Xennial takes the middle ground between the negative, pessimistic Generation X and the overly positive, optimistic Generation Y, this according to sociologists and demographers globally.
The upside? I managed to get through high school without any physical evidence of my actions hidden in a private conversation somewhere on the interwebs. I don’t have any awful photos on Facebook of me from pre 2007 (by which time I was already 23 years old) and I learned social skills from being forced to interact with people, even though I hated it, in person and telephonically. I was lucky enough to have experienced listening to a tape and pausing every 5 minutes as I wrote down the lyrics for my favourite song (instead of finding it online) and then being able to record over said song when I found a new favourite.
The downside? Up until I was 23, I actually had to write down or remember someone’s birthday and physically draw up a birthday card instead of being able to write on their Facebook wall. If I wanted to make a call, I needed to slip a few coins into a pay phone and hope that I remembered the phone number I was dialling off by heart. I listened to Backstreet Boys and the Spice Girls, by choice and blue eye shadow was still the first colour you wanted to own.
Millennial vs. Xennial with a little Gen Z
I would like to think that it is possible to relate a little bit to both. I am a Xennial with Millennial tendencies; I am open minded and liberal with a strong work ethic. I remember a time before social media but I don’t ever want to be without it again, I love my phone but for text messages and not phone calls. I fondly remember having a Sony Walkman but am grateful for music streaming, an endless supply of memories at my fingertips.
Now, I am a hybrid raising a new generation of human beings, the next generation Z; an unstudied enigma to generational alumni. A generation that is still too young to be studied and yet themselves are becoming some sort of hybrid, where their lives have been completely digital and mobile phones are common preteen gifts but we have a record player in the house and recently Tamagotchis made a comeback.
I think it is important to remember that these generation labels are exactly that, labels. If you are happy to be labelled and live your life according to the label you have been assigned, that is your prerogative but it is important to remember that this is not always the case across generations. Wow, how very millennial did that sound?
Ultimately, this need not pertain to you if you choose it not too, lets not get too hung up on what’s in a name. It is also important to note that the birth year range for generation naming is very messy, every website you find has a different year or age to which the label pertains which could in fact lead to many more hybrids, just like me, who cross identify with generations. Heck, I am as cynical as the next Generation X’er, just another trait for my growing list.
Which generation do you find yourself being grouped into and which one do you best identify with?