Millenials have a branding problem. The generation that was raised by Baby Boomers and Generation Xers to feel like they’re special, in a world where everyone received a trophy and a pat on the back, is now considered to be lazy and to expect too much. The same people that raised Millenials now look at them with derision and because of that some of the older Millenials are attempting to break off into a group of their own. They’ve got a reasonable gripe, as they are a bit too old to remember those last place trophies, a childhood that centered around the internet and hand-held devices as well as a rude post-college awakening. So, they missed out on the good parts of being a Millenial but are now still ending up dealing with all the bad parts. Those people are starting to call themselves Xennials. A term that seems to have its origins in an article on Good by Sarah Stankorb and Jed Oelbaum.
An Australian lifestyle website recently spoke with University of Melbourne Associate Professor of Sociology Dan Woodman about Xennials and his answer has been going viral. He says the Xennial group is comprised of those who were born between 1977 and 1983. It deserves it’s own asterisk, at least, according to Woodman because those born during that time had a different and distinct upbringing. According to Woodman:
“Xennials spent a significant chunk of their childhoods without access to computers—and indeed, will someday be among the last people on Earth to remember a time before the internet—but experienced the internet revolution early enough to still become early adopters of new technologies. People who were actually college aged when Facebook came out, in other words.”
For those in that group, they’ll actually be the first members of Facebook, to be exact and thus remember a time when Facebook was called TheFacebook and when it was a website that required a valid email from a selective group of colleges. MySpace was for everyone, TheFacebook was for college students. So, perhaps this should be called TheFacebook Generation? Either way, Woodman continued:
“You have a childhood, youth, and adolescence free of having to worry about social media posts and mobile phones. It was a time when we had to organize to catch up with our friends on the weekends using the landline,” Woodman recalls, presumably more than a little wistfully, on the Australian lifestyle site Mamamia. “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.”
The article concludes by using Star Wars as the best way to determine what generation you’re a part of. If you saw the original trilogy in theaters you’re a Gen-Xer, if you were born during that trilogy you’re a Xennial and if you saw the Phantom Menace in theaters, as the article says, they feel your pain. The originators of the term have even created a quiz to let you know if you qualify as a Xennial. But, this all boils down to the fact that this may be the first time in history that someone doesn’t want to be lumped in with the youngest generation that’s been named. Typically, that generation represents youth (obviously) and the eventual power that comes with being the ones next in line to run things. One would assume it is the generation everyone wants to be a part of since everyone wants to be young and powerful, right? So why would a group try to branch off on its own? That group will inherently have less power, so of course, it’s a bad sign when your seemingly perfect group is having such brand issues that people are leaving for perhaps the first time in human history. The thing about it is, that it’s not Millenials fault.
Millenials didn’t become “snowflakes” on their own. They were raised that way. So, if anything, the fault lies with the generations that raised them, i.e. Generation X and Baby Boomers. While Millenials have a legitimate gripe as to their preparedness for the real world, the fact is that for the most part (albeit decreasingly) Generation Xers and Baby Boomers are the one’s calling the shots and doing a lot of the hiring. So, when the perception is that Millenials are lazy, or expect too much in terms of their job role and salaries, it makes sense that the oldest of that generation may want to let decision makers know that they are different. As someone who was born the year after Return of the Jedi was released in theaters, it’s nice to be able to grab from the Millenial or the Xennial group when needed. But the fact remains that as long as you present yourself as a responsible human being that knows how to actually talk on the phone, it doesn’t matter what made up name your age-group uses or that you don’t know if you’re a Gryffindor or a Ravenclaw. Even if you’ll eventually wish you were a Slytherin as you get closer and closer to being the generation that looks to the next as lazy and needy.