I was born at a time before the Internet, when there were only thirteen channels, no remote, and definitely no cable. I used my grandfather’s typewriter to do my term papers, and was already in sophomore high when I got a computer at home. I basically grew up witnessing the leaps and bounds we’ve made with technology, but I can say that I still remain comfortable without all the gadgets.
Those of you who are in your 30s can probably relate with the confusion of whether or not you’re a true-blue millennial. But there’s such a huge psychological and experiential divide that separates this age group from those born in the era of the Internet, which is why it’s great news that someone has finally coined the term “Xennials,” which is a cross between Gen-Xers and millennials.
“Xennials” first appeared in articles by Sarah Stankorb and Jed Oelbaum on GOOD, with the former explaining it as “a micro-generation that serves as a bridge between the disaffection of Gen X and the blithe optimism of Millennials.” Growing up, Xennials had intermittent interaction with TVs as they often enjoyed the outdoors more. As adults, they still consume traditional media, which they sometimes still think as more legit than online data. They walk the fine line between digital and analogue—as much as it was easy for them to adjust to the Internet, it’s also easy for them to get off the grid if they wish. They’re more comfortable with building relationships with people face-to-face, and they don’t find the need to consistently be heard in public forums.
“It was a particularly unique experience,” shared Dan Woodman, Associate Professor of Sociology at The University of Melbourne on Mamamia. “You have a childhood, youth and adolescence free of having to worry about social media posts and mobile phones... We learned to consume media and came of age before there was Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat and all these things where you still watch the evening news or read the newspaper."
These experiences and characteristics make Xennials to be some of the best people in the workforce. Their adaptability not only makes them great problem solvers, but also less of complainers—after all, they can often find ways out of any mess. They put a premium on offline relationship-building, and can detect physical and verbal hints that allow them to assess how they should relate with those they deal with professionally.
They also have a pretty good idea of the value of money, after being bombarded in the news about the recession in the west that happened in the 90s and the early 2000s. As Monica Hunter-Hart noted on Inverse, “They were ‘first given a sweet taste of the good life, and then kicked in the face,’” which is probably why Xennials always have their feet on the ground; not really cynical, but curious, questioning, and logical. If something’s too good to be true, trust a Xennial to know that it probably is.
It feels nice to finally find a group to belong to despite it being just a micro-generation, doesn’t it? But while having a label definitely seems logical and helps explain the transitional years of 1977 to 1983, it’s still important to remember not to be too reliant on it. Professor Woodman explained, “It gets too simple sometimes and it treats everybody who lives under a certain set of conditions as if they’re exactly the same.”
One of the limitations cited is that those born at the Xennial cusps may have experiences and world views very similar to Gen-Xers or Millennials that the lines begin to blur. “In Youth and Generation (with Johanna Wyn) I argue that a convincing sociological account of generations will have to do three things: specify the changed social conditions, relative to previous generations, that will have effects beyond youth; identify the multiple ways that people respond to and shape these conditions; and show how the generation is not homogeneous,” the sociologist said in his own article on the World Economic Forum. “The term ‘Xennials’ is yet to meet these criteria.”
The Xennial concept still needs a great deal of science to back it up, but heck—being that balanced person who grew up on Batibot, played patintero on moonlit nights, and listened to the early albums of Wolfgang isn’t a bad thing to be. It’s great being the level-headed and logical power woman who can swing from analogue to digital, so until something more solid comes along, I’m good with being a Xennial.