4 November 2019

Xennials/Millennials? Gen-x/Gen-Y

On Twitter, Ian Dunt started this thread about generation X and millennials. The second tweet of the thread caught my eye:

My lot — born 82 — never really got a name. I know we’re technically millennials, just about, but we’re not really. Fuck I never heard that word until it referred to people who were plainly young than me.

And then Mike Hall quoted a definition of a word that was new to me, Xennials”:

Xennials are described as having had an analog childhood and a digital adulthood’.

Obviously the generation you are part of depends not only on the year you were born, but also where you grow up, the average income of your household, how open” your parents were towards new technologies, &c.

Knowing all this, of what generation am I exactly, looking through the technology glass?

I was born in 84, so I am technically part of gen Y, a millennial by the book. I believe I had an ordinary childhood for a French kid. My mother was very open when it came to watching movies and shows on TV, or playing video games. But when it came to the questions of computers and the internet, my home was very much stuck in the eighties, probably more for financial reasons than open-mindedness, but still. Exhibit A: I perfectly remember watching hours of Dragon Ball Z on a black and white TV, that had a dial for changing channels, no remote; that must have been the year 92 or 93.

I got my first real” computer when I was already 20, and we got the internet at home a few months after. I got my first mobile phone when I was 18 — right after my high school years — which later always made me feel left out in conversations seeing how the others millennials — my coworkers, my friends — were already using Facebook like crazy at the university, and spent their time in middle school texting their classmates. My memories are quite different than theirs.

When I did not feel like an old millennial, I felt like a very young member of the gen X. My former flatmate, who was only three years older than me, was definitely part of the gen X, judging by his still-growing collection of DVDs. At that time, not owning a TV made me feel part of the younger generation.

I guess I am indeed a Xennial, perfectly in-between gen X and gen Y. It does not mean much, but it feels good to have a word that translates my life experience so well.

Now the question is: How are people between boomers and gen X called? Xoomers? Booxers? And what about young millennials who feel part of the gen Z? Zillennials?

This attempt at defining generations reminds me of the back cover” of the great book The End of Absence, by Michael Harris:

Soon enough, nobody will remember life before the Internet. What does this unavoidable fact mean? For future generations, it won’t mean anything very obvious. They will be so immersed in online life that questions about the Internet’s basic purpose or meaning will vanish. But those of us who have lived both with and without the crowded connectivity of online life have a rare opportunity. We can still recognise the difference between Before and After.

Highly recommended read.


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