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Who are the Xennials?

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

Original Infographic  |

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.

Brief Definition

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.

Unique Demographic

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!



  • Will and Grace
  • Dawson’s Creek
  • Blossom
  • My So-Called Life
  • Full House
  • Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
  • One Tree Hill
  • The O.C.
  • Saved By The Bell
  • Wonder Years
  • Transformers
  • Thundercats
  • 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
  • N’sync


  • 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


Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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Who Are The Xennials?
Article Name
Who Are The Xennials?
The Xennials are a micro-generation between Generation X and the Millennials. Born between 1977 and 1984, they are conflicted about which generation to associate as their own.


  1. Sam

    I am the youngest of seven and was born in 1978 and my siblings were a wide range of Boomers and Gen Xer’s. My parents were catholic for half our childhood so we weren’t raised as inconveniences in the sense that abortion/contraception and such were not influential on them. Then in the late 80’s they went on a spiritual quest after leaving Catholicism (my mom was his second wife and dad refused to annul his prior kids when the church found out about the divorce).

    We definitely became latchey kids or were otherwise dragged along to their spiritual meetups. Their personalities I feel were influenced more dramatically at that point by the less strict Protestant faiths they explored and also commercials, sitcoms and other media that convinced them to fall into a more lax state of parenting. My interpretation was that since we weren’t the perfect Cosby kids we were treated like the undervalued castoffs of Roseanne’s family and therefore not appreciated. My parents so desperately wanted to be the Huxtables (until Cleo? started having troubles) and were vexed as to why we couldn’t live up to their pretend kin after enduring their re-telling of sitcom lines to us. “We brought you into this world, we can take you out” and my favorite, “We’d get a divorce but neither of us wants the kids”. Hilarious I’m sure on a sitcom with an embedded laugh track but not so much in real life. They spent 30 minutes a day around a dinner table with us and felt that if problems could be solved on the Cosby show/Familty Ties/etc in 30 minutes so should ours.

    So I have this really great early childhood that I can identify with as a Xenial and this less than stellar second half were I totally get Gen Xer’s point of view.

    To be clear, I am not trying to paint religion as a culprit or one better than another. It was simply a catalyst. My father grew up in the Depression and most of his life was survival and routine, my mother, a Boomer, grew up in poverty as well and spent her years raising her six younger siblings. So I also harbor no ill will to them or their generations. The 80’s and 90’s for them was a time of wealth and extra time and a society that suddenly cared about their individuality and personal wants. I am glad they both had the opportunity to deeply explore faith and philosophy, something prior generations I feel hadn’t the luxury.

    It’s a shame they couldn’t separate fiction (television) from reality. Many in our society today I feel follow the same suffering path. It breeds anxiety, impatience, and an inability to accept each other for the beautiful random imperfections that we are. They strive to be this made up scripted vision of perfection and when they feel they fall short they feel their shows should get cancelled. I am also seeing a lot of blaming and negativity around this subject of generations. Look at them like horoscopes, sure some things fit and some wont, you can’t blame a whole group for something when it’s made up of individuals. It’s important for those with animosity or loathing in their hearts towards generations, parents, or children to understand that all of us have gone through some trauma in our lives. No one is exempt from bad decisions and to harbor animosity in your heart will only cause you more suffering than the initial wound.

    I’m now a parent too (late bloomer). We took a lot of time evaluating why we wanted a child as we didn’t want to repeat our ancestor’s journeys. I hope it wasn’t in vain. Time will tell if my coddling was too much. His generation will probably be ridiculed in some fashion in the future by media society.

    The only thing that matters to me is that my child always felt loved and appreciated.

    • Jennifer

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve read a lot of comments on this blog over the years and many Gen-X testimonials. Your story is not like any other I’ve ever read. That’s not to say it isn’t purely Gen-X or Xennial (I’m a fan of the Xennial subset of Generation X), because it is. The line that really got me in my heart was this: “They strive to be this made up scripted vision of perfection and when they feel they fall short they feel their shows should get cancelled.” Profound, my friend! Thank you for stopping by. This post gets a lot of traffic and I look forward to visitors reading your wonderful comments. God bless you, always. –jennifer

      • Sam

        Those are kind words, thank you! I hope it does help someone in the future struggling with anger or self depredation. There’s so much more to life than screens. While TV and internet have allowed us to question and explore our humanity they are only tools and shouldn’t themselves be elevated to a spiritual status that commands our obedience. May God bless you as well!

  2. Brandon Johns

    Well first off, someone born in the late 70s and early 80s would have graduated high school from 1994-2002.

    Secondly, as someone born in 1981, I would say I am a Xennial who leans more millennial. I came of age with the internet and I had been using computers since I was in grade school. I think that makes me much different than someone born in the 60s and early 70s. None of whom had the internet during their entire school and college years. Many of whom weren’t introduced to the internet until they were in their late 20s and 30s.

    That being said, I like the rest of your article. I loved playing Oregon Trail in elementary school. Always one of my favorite games growing up. I found it on Facebook recently but it just wasn’t the same as the old disk game.

    • Marcy

      I was a little annoyed myself when I read that Xennials graduated high school in the early to mid 90s and attended college in the mid to late 90s. Not accurate at all if the birth years are 1977 to 1984. People born in ’77 graduated high school in ’95. I was born in 1980 and graduated in ’98. I find it interesting that you are just a year younger that I am but you identify more as a millennial. I have always identified as a Gen Xer. Then again, earlier this year the Pew Research Center officially defined millennials as those born between 1981 and 1996. So, according to their guidelines, I am a member of Gen X and you are a millennial. Even though Xennials as a micro-generation isn’t an official thing, I think it definitely deserves to be considered. I can 100% relate to it.

  3. Chris

    I was born in 1973–definitely too soon to be a “Xennial.”

    Xennials apparently fail to realize how MUCH tech we in Gen X already DID have as children!

    Personal computers were already a thing in 1980. I was programming in BASIC on a TRS-80 CoCo when I was 7 years old. Friends had Commodore 64s, Atari 400/800s, and TI-99s.

    We were communicating with each other electronically on BBSes long before 1990.

    That’s the problem with the viewpoint of those who grew up with tech. They have no awareness of just how advanced preceding tech was. It’s like they think that their tech suddenly sprang up without any highly similar predecessor the day that they were born.

    • Jennifer

      I couldn’t agree with you more. You state it so well. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a Gen-Xer programming at 7-years-of age. That is very cool history right there — especially a mid-wave Xer. 1973 was a great year!

    • Greg

      I was born in 73 and had apple computers in grade school. I also spent a whole lot of time playing Oregon trail.

      • Jennifer

        Yes, the Oregon Trail. It’s now a card game for you late-wave Gen-Xers. Thanks, Greg!

  4. Mind Over Meta

    Born in 1980! Ironically, as I was reading this Backstreet Boys came on the radio! I didn’t realise I was a ‘Xennial’. I can clearly remember the day of 9/11. I was working in London and we had a TV in the office which used to have the news on constantly. The day it happened we were all huddled round the TV trying to figure out what was happening. I feel that was a real turning point…I’d lived through stuff happening with the IRA but this seemed on another level. On a more happier note, I have a lot of happy memories growing up. I feel like the toys and kids’ programmes we had in ‘those days’ were far more educational that what’s put on nowadays. Maybe I’m biased 😉

    • Jennifer

      A true Xennial. I love it. Do you remember much about the 1980s? If so, what? I have a lot of memories of the IRA, too, or at least hearing about them in the U.S.

  5. Andy

    Great post again, Jen.
    The folks who come along and criticise or deny these micro-generations are massively missing the point.
    When we talk about generational change we are really referring to change within general society. It just so happened that these changes used to take place every 20 or so years, which fell in line with the idea of a generational time frame.
    But with the pace of technological change since the 70s, we now see these changes happening every 7-10 years.
    So yes, Xennials IS a thing.

    And besides, the assertion that a generation must last for 20 years is flawed in the first place. Think about it. Some people have kids at 18, others at 35. What truly represents the passing of a generation, can it be measured by time? Does it neatly wrap into 20 year folds? No.

    So the framework moving forward is to continue to discuss sociology across time within the context of generations, but to develop and flesh out this concept of micro generations, allowing folks to connect their past to their present along the way.

  6. Eulie

    Thank you for this. I was born in 1978, raised a latch-key kid, and didn’t even know what e-mail was until 1999. Now for some reason just because I look 30-something and stream music on my smartphone, I am automatically labeled Millenial. Don’t get me wrong, they have their good points, but deep down…I just am not one.

    • Jennifer

      yea! I love the Xennials! Thanks for stopping by.

  7. John Lord

    Thanks posting this article. I always felt that I had far more in common with the second wave gen exers ( I was born in the early eighties) than ” fellow Millenials ” born in the late nineties or two thousands.

    • Jennifer

      So, Xennial fits you? A lot has been written about this micro-generation in the last few months!

  8. Jan

    I was born in 1983, but in what was Communist Czechoslovakia at that time. So i consider myself a Xennial. It fits so perfectly! After the revolution I was 7, and all the technological advancements came to our country with 2-3 years delay. I grew up travelling with paper map, remembering all my friends landline numbers, listening to x-th copies of tapes with Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, etc.:) Then cellphones came, and dial-up internet, later smartphones, and I mean yeah, I enjoy them, but I can still navigate with a map:) And I am still a few years before the millenial gen, I kinda had a head start in my career, etc…
    Finally someone stood up for our generation and gave us a framework:)

    • Jennifer

      You’re part of Cold War history, Jan, and you lived through the revolution. Fascinating. I bet you have a lot of stories. I wish I could hear them. I miss the days of paper maps and committing phone numbers to memory. I hardly know my own phone number these days. It seems like a lot of people are discovering what is a Xennial and connecting with it more than Gen X or Millennial. I’m so glad! Thanks for stopping by.

      • John Lord

        I think Nsync or some of the other boy bands are more of a millenial thing though.

  9. Kamiyama

    I’ve been reading your blog on and off for about a week. You inspired me to start my own. Because of the site I used, it’s written with a lot of “people reading are too young to remember this” in mind. It’s not really an Xennial blog. Though there’s stuff about my experience in that end of X between Japan and America in there, I also do things like vintage book and electronics rescues. I have two 8 track players and saved a ’84 RCA console TV from the scrap heap! And that’s the bulk of the blog.

    I saw the post about how you lost your childhood photos. Mine are gone, too. Most of them disappeared in the Hanshin Earthquake in ’95. I know that earthquake made news here. Then a few from my remaining teen years were lost in a storage flood. After I lost the Japanese side of my family (single dad and his parents), I ended up with a guardian that didn’t want me and was a definitive latchkey teenager. I carried my keys on a carabiner in a belt loop of my trousers and do to this day. My guardian had her own kid and I had to be home to care for her.

    Anyway, your blog inspired me to make one and I wanted you to know that.

  10. Kyle McMahon

    Sorry, but Xennials aren’t a thing. In fact, there’s no such thing as a micro-generation. There’s nothing more Millennial than trying to create your own “micro – generation”.

    • Jennifer

      Thanks, Kevin. How about a reciprocal link back to my site since that “viral” post plagiarized my post? Thanks for your comment for stopping by!

  11. Brian

    You all are retarded. Born in 81 here, and I’m generation X. You know how I know? Because we were told that while in school.

    • Mike D

      Generations aren’t exactly a science. In fact, the 1982 cut-off was first decided on while U.S. 1981ers were still in diapers, so it didn’t take into consideration any of the world events or technological developments that shaped our development. Personally, I find the traditional generational classifications to be lazy; a sliding scale of some sort would be much more accurate than the current hard-and-fast year ranges. Because of this, I think the effort to identify sub-generations is a good endeavor toward greater demographic accuracy.

  12. ben

    This post is right on! We are thene most overlooked group and i always figured it was due to how gen x is demographically challenged between 2 generations that just cant shut the—–up, yet feel alienated from the generation that people born in 79 were classified with. i was latchkey kid yet i had helicopter parents who coddled me. go figure! Thanks for this epiphany, now where did i put that smashing pumkins& nine inch nails mixed tape at?lol

    • Jennifer

      Latchkey kids who were coddled – that is such a great definition of Xennials. Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed your comment. FWIW, this old Gen-Xer likes the Smashing Pumpkins!

      • John Lord

        Which Smashing Pumkins albums do you prefer? Gish or Pieces Aseria? Or even Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness?

  13. Shawn huff

    I remember when MTV played music…. Saved by The Bell and Ice Ice Baby was on the radio. I had to buy the single 🙂

    Born in 1978

  14. Sean

    I was born at the end of 1981 and though I am very happy to have made the cut I feel that the time line should be pushed further out into the mid 80’s. I will admit to a bit of entitlement. That entitlement coming from society pushing to go to college and then even grad school – to get the better jobs. Where are these better jobs? Now we are the meat of the various generations who are buried under student loan dept with no way to really contribute to the economy for another 20 year – once the remaining balances are forgiven. We make things work….we do….. but we could do so much more.

    A couple of items that should be added to the cultural items of the time:
    -THE Nintendo Entertainment System
    -The golden age of comics (Marvel & DC)
    -Thundercats, Transformers, Ren & Stempy
    -Almost all Disney Cartoons (DuckTails, Tailspin, Chip N’ Dale’s Rescue Ranger, DarkWing Duck, etc)

    This was a time when Saturday morning cartoons were just that….entertainment with a moral lesson at the end of the episodes. And when they were over, you would go outside and play. Now there are no Saturday morning cartoons, no going outside ……just tech to play with.

    • Jennifer

      I love your comment so much and the suggestion for the cultural items. I will add them to the list. I love your comment because I rarely hear from late-wave Gen-Xers born in the early 1980s. Your perspective and memories are classic Gen-X even though you’re the youngest among us. A True Xennial. Thanks for stopping by, Sean.

  15. Michael

    The birth years/high school graduation/attend college do not match up. If you were born between 1977 and 1984, you should have graduated from 1995 to 2002 and attended college from 1995 to 2006.

  16. Me

    I’m a younger Xennial born in October 1983 and I’m so glad that we finally have a label and don’t have to be lumped in with those infants anymore. Like others, I take issue with One Tree Hill and The O.C. being on that list. I would replace it with classic Simpsons, Beavis and Butthead, or Daria, the latter of which perfectly sums up the Xennial experience, in my opinion.

    • Jennifer

      Thank you for sharing. You were on the leading edge! Great article.

  17. Julie

    I was born in 1977, so I can relate to a lot of this. Some of the touchstones for me were grunge music, the whole mid 90s 70s/hippie revival/doc martens/flannel wearing/greasy haired weird mix. Movie-wise, Singles, Reality Bites, The Crow, Clueless. Television: I would identify a lot more with a show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer than I would with a show like The O.C. or One Tree Hill, which I would have classed as firmly in the Millenial field, as I was already my mid 20s by the time those premiered, I would think they would have targetted people born in the late 80s. Likewise with NSync and the Backstreet Boys, I was definitely well into college when that trend happened and I’ve never felt any connection with those that came of age with those bands. My soundtrack was Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, the Smashing Pumpkins, the Pixies, the Violent Femmes etc. So in that sense, I feel more connected with Gen X. I graduated high school before the internet really became a thing, and even then, I went through most of college without there being very much on there to help with paper research, so still had to use the good ol card catalogue 🙂 BUT I met my husband online in 1999, so there you go! (I also resisted getting a cell phone until the late 2000s, even now I always forget it!)

    And my views of my childhood are a lot rosier, I remember riding my bike and playing outside until 9pm. I remember the freedom, but I don’t remember any feeling of abandonment, or coming home to an empty house. And not surprisingly then, I’m the opposite of the helicopter parent, I very much wish my kids could have the carefree childhood that I had, and I’m sad that the world isn’t the same anymore.

    Thank you for your blog, I procrastinated a lot today reading your posts, back to work – do you find that Generation X or the later parts of it have higher rates of ADHD perhaps? Ugh! (Generation Adderall!)

  18. CP

    God yes! Thank you for thinking of us. 1981 here and I get kicked around between the generations. I relate far more to the Gen Xers, but I feel like the Millennials are my little siblings that I want to both kick in the butt and stand up for all at the same time. I think it’s unfair the crap they get, but they can also cry me a river because I’m of a forgotten generation. I’m actually the forgotten of the forgotten.

    But…I also think we are the most badass. I mean, Catalano Generation? That’s a stellar name right there. I never related to any TV character like I did Angela Chase.

    • Jennifer

      I’m so fascinated by the Xennials. In many ways, they could elevate their “brand” beyond Generation X. Kind of like Generation Jones — the youngest of the Boomers. Thanks for your comment. I do agree that late-wave Xers are a formidable and interesting cohort. Mucho love on the journey, jen

  19. RB

    Total Xennial here. I was born in 1978 and all the Gen-X stuff always seemed like the “older kids”, yet a lot of the millenial stuff seemed like the “younger kids”. Gen-X music was what I listened to when I hit adolescence, but most of those artists were a good 10+ years older than me. I loved most of it, but didn’t feel a real connection. I suppose most of the musicians and bands that were my age broke around the early 2000’s. The short lived garage rock trend (Strokes, Hives, White Stripes, Vines, etc.) felt more of my generation. I think there were a good deal of us who grew up listening to our Boomer Parents’ vinyl and “oldies radio”. Most Gen-Xer’s were kids when Woodstock happened, but it was a good 20 years in the past when we were coming into our own. I feel a closeness to Gen-X, but it definitely wasn’t my generation. And Millennials never knew life without the internet, so there isn’t much connection with them either. So Xennial it is. We’re a weird bunch.

    • Jennifer

      I see more and more identification with the Xennial concept by younger Gen-Xers. Maybe younger Gen-Xers are the true Gen-Xers and its the rest of us straddling the divide. =) There is also “Generation Jones” — a subset between Boomers and Xers. Thank you for your comment. I have absolutely no memory of the garage bands you mentioned. Something for me to go check out. Thank you. I think we’re all weird. =) Please stop by again! –jen

  20. Brett

    I’d think that “Friends” would have to be on their list of TV touchstones.

    • Jennifer

      Great suggestion. I will add it.


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