As someone born in the early 1980s, I have never really identified with Generation X or The Millennials. I didn’t grow up in the time of technology like a Millennial, but was still young enough to easily adapt when the revolution hit. I spent hours of my youth on the Oregon Trail, but can still use an iPhone without angrily poking at the screen, lamenting a simpler time.
My generation was the last to grow up without technology. We were the first to embrace online dating, social media and texting in our twenties.
We passed paper notes in high school and didn’t carry cell phones until college—if we were even lucky enough to have one then. When we finally got a cell phone, we didn’t use it unless someone was bleeding, because calls were expensive.
We didn’t know what a selfie was. When we took a million close-up photos with our friends, we had to point the camera at our faces, from arm’s length, and hope for the best. We wouldn’t discover that half of them were blurry and half of them were just pictures of our foreheads until two weeks later. And by a million photos, I mean 24, because that’s how many photos you could take on the average roll of film.
We didn’t have endless sources for viewing and entertainment; we had a television and a VCR. We understand the phrase, “be kind, rewind,” and we watched all our favorite shows live because DVR wasn’t a thing. We never missed an episode of Friends or ER, even if it meant fighting our siblings for control of the remote.
When our favorite band released a new song, we stayed by the radio until it came on, hoping like hell our fingers hit “play/record” fast enough to catch the opening. Nothing was more annoying than sitting by the radio for an hour, only to have DJ Sit and Spin talk through the first ten seconds of the song.
“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,” says Dan Woodman of University of Melbourne. “We hit it where we could still adopt in a selective way the new technologies.”
If you were born between 1977-1983, you’ve likely been nodding along in agreement. While this window is only seven years wide, we are a cohort that grew up between two very different cohorts—the Gen-Xers and the Millennials. We are the bridge from analog to digital, and for that reason, Woodman, Associate Professor of Sociology, is now classifying us as Xennials.
“The idea is there’s this micro or in-between generation 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,” says Woodman.
If you are wondering what the hell a Xennial is, here ya go:
So, there you have it. I guess there was a reason I never fit in. Maybe we’re too small to technically be considered a generation, but we are certainly a unique group.
If you are a fellow Xennial, welcome to the club.
EDITOR’S UPDATE: Since the publication of this post, Sarah Stankorb published a piece in Vogue explaining how she actually coined the term Xennial in 2014. Check it out for her explanation of how the term originated.
Post updated 7/7.