Lately, it seems like we're obsessed with classifying people according to the year in which they were born—particularly young adults. As a smack-dab-in-the-middle Millennial (I was born in 1988), it horrifies me that many Gen Z-ers are in college. Some have even graduated.
We're qualifying millennials as people born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s, more specifically between 1981 and 1996.
Generation Z as people born between the mid-1990s to the present. There's some amount of disagreement as to the specific ages and years, but most agree Gen Z started in 1997 and has not ended.
If you're already perplexed by the various generational labels — Baby Boomers, Millennials, Generation X, and so on—you are about to get even more confused. There's a new generation in town — or, rather, it's been in town for a while, but now it has a new distinction: the Xennial Generation.
Also known as the Oregon Trail Generation (Hey now, I played Oregon Trail, too!), the so-called Xennial Generation describes people born between 1977–1983. This generation is thought to be one of the more tech savvy of the bunch, because they grew up as the internet came into fruition and learned many technological skills on their own. They also had to deal with dial-up internet and pre-smartphone mobile phones—in fact, they probably remember a time without any cell phones at all.
Unlike Gen Z or some Millennials, Xennials didn't come of age with social media (or if they did, it was at the very beginning of social media platforms like Facebook), smartphones or apps. They may be a little behind on some of the newer trends—which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your personal feelings. They are also thought to be a little more optimistic than their Gen X counterparts, but a little more realistic than Millennials. Again, this can be a blessing or a curse — or a little of both.
There are approximately 25 million Xennials in the United States. By comparison, according to U.S. Census Data, there were approximately 71 million Millennials in 2016 and Gen Xers are expected to number 65.8 million in 2018.
Because Xennials grew up with new and not-yet-honed technology—such as the aforementioned dial-up internet—many of them had to navigate the tools the Millennial generation may take for granted. In some ways, this makes them particularly tech-savvy—perhaps even more so than other young adults. In additional to being able to use technologies that older people didn't have, these people are often able to teach older baby boomers and Generation X-ers how to use the technology, since they went through the process of learning how to use them themselves. This can be a very useful, marketable skill to have.
This unique experience isn't the only advantage Xennials have enjoyed when it comes to the working world. Xennials were at the beginning of adulthood and their careers when the recession hit in 2008. That meant they were mostly in entry-level (read: low-paying) jobs and, for the most part, survived the layoffs older colleagues endured. In the years that followed, this allowed them to thrive in their careers, while Millennials had more trouble finding work in the wake of the recession.
In some ways, Xennials represent a time that straddled two worlds. They're old enough to remember a period before social media—and thus an age when face-to-face interaction was the main form of communication—but young enough to still reap the benefits of a digital world. Are you wondering if you're a Xennial? If you're curious, take this quiz from The Guardian to find out!