Born on the cusp of Generation X and the Millennials is a micro-generation called the Xennials. They are a bridge between the two generations and “members” are often conflicted about which generation to affiliate with or claim as their own.
Who are the Xennials?
Xennials are a small demographic between Gen X (1961-1981) and the Millennial (Gen Y) Generation (1982-1996).
- They were born between the late 70s and the early 1980s.
- Roughly, the birth years are 1977 to 1984.
- They graduated high school in the early-to-mid 1990s.
- They attended college in the mid-to-late 1990s.
- They entered the workforce just prior to 9/11.
The lives of Xennials have been a unique combination of analog and digital; cynicism and optimism. The kids of younger Baby Boomers and older Gen-Xers, they were protected as children, but not necessarily subjected to helicopter parents or over-parenting. They enjoy freedom and individualism, but also know how to work in teams. This makes them very attractive to employers.
A few names have been used to describe this demographic including the Oregon Trail Generation and Generation Catalano. The former was a popular video game. The latter was inspired by Jordan Catalano, a character from the TV show My So-Called Life. The name Xennials is a kind of portmanteau that blends both meanings and components of Xers and Millennials. X + Millennial = Xennial. Clever.
This Oregon Trail generation represents the last Americans to come of age without social media and cell phones. In addition, they were the last to use payphones and commit phone numbers to memory. Also, they used both the card catalog and typewriters for research papers, but the Internet and personal computers.
Historical Events and Cultural Touchstones
Xennials entered adulthood around the tragic events of September 11, 2001. They remember the Cold War and have lived through the War on Terror, but their school years were for the most part pre-Columbine.
They were already engaged in the workforce during the Great Recession of 2007 but were old enough to be cognizant of the financial meltdown. These events have made Xennials more politically conservative than their younger Millennial counterparts.
Here is a shortlist of cultural touchstones. There are many more, but these are some of the major ones. If you would like to contribute ideas to this list, please email me, jenx67 @ cox . net. Thank you!
- Empire Records
- The Goonies
- New Star Wars movies
- Will and Grace
- Dawson’s Creek
- My So-Called Life
- Full House
- Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
- One Tree Hill
- The O.C.
- Saved By The Bell
- Wonder Years
- Ren & Stimpy
- Disney Cartoons including DuckTails, Tailspin, Chip N’ Dale’s Rescue Ranger, and DarkWing Duck.
Lucas Alan Dietsche has written a poetry book for Xennials. Click on the image to learn more about it.
Toys, Video Games, Technology
- The Oregon Trail, King’s Quest, Loom, 7th Guest, Doom, Myst, Carmen San Diego
- Microsoft Windows 95
- AOL and Dial-Up
- Cabbage Patch Kids
- Golden Age of Comics (Marvel & DC)
- Nintendo Entertainment System
- Backstreet Boys
- Abercrombie & Fitch
- Old Navy
What do you think of the Xennials?
Here are some articles about this special demographic.
- Project 1979: In 2011, this blogger launched a project to tell her generation’s story. It was the maverick in this dialogue — the forerunner, if you will, of the popular Oregon Trail article. The Facebook page is still active.
- Salon: Confessions of a Xennial: Why Am I Treated Like A Millennial When I Feel Like Gen X
- Slate: Generation Catalano
- Social Media Week: The Oregon Trail Generation
- Good: Reasonable People Disagree about the Post-Gen X, Pre-Millennial Generation
- Huffington Post: The Biggest (And Best) Difference Between Millennials and My Generation
- Being Ajile: In-Betweeners
- Cultural Nit-Pickery: 1995: Are You an Empire Xennial or a Clueless Xennial?
- She Knows: 13 Signs you’re stuck between Gen X & millennials