Older millennials, rejoice: A recently coined term will finally validate your feeling that you don’t belong.
Being a “millennial” isn’t really a point of pride for people born between approximately 1980 and 2000: This generation is frequently called narcissistic, entitled, mopey, and a host of other insults. Older millennials, in particular, often shun the label; they came of age before social media and smartphones, so they don’t appreciate being lumped in with people who grew up with the ubiquitous internet.
These folks aren’t really millennials, but they’re not really from the previous “Gen X” generation, either. They are “Xennials,” a term that seems to have been introduced by GOOD magazine in 2014 and has been popularized more recently. It’s a useful label for people born between 1977 and 1983 that finally frees them from generational purgatory.
“We use social media but can remember living life without it,” explained a self-proclaimed Xennial in GOOD. “The internet was not a part of our childhoods, but computers existed and there was something special about the opportunity to use one.”
Typically, Xennials don’t have the apathy and cynicism associated with the Gen X generation, but they also lack the dogged optimism of millennials, who are said to overestimate their potential because they were raised to believe that they were “special.” Xennials fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
While Xennials are fluent in modern digital culture, they aren’t chained to it and “have some ability, or at least a latent space in our brains, to unplug.”
Economically, Xennials have seen it all. They are old enough to remember the end of a long period of growth (following a small recession) in the 1990s, but they came of age around the time that the “dot-com bubble” burst and saw the decline and major recession of the 2000s. In other words, they were “first given a sweet taste of the good life, and then kicked in the face.”
Basically, Xennials aren’t too much of any one thing — and a state of balance is usually better than an extreme. A Xennial seems like a pretty good thing to be.