Are you a gen x, millennial… or a xennial? Here’s how to find out

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Sarah Biddlecombe

We’ve heard a lot about gen x, that lucky cohort of people with financially secure jobs and their feet firmly on the property ladder.

And we’ve heard even more about millennials, a generation defined by a love of avocado on toast and Netflix, who are more likely to sleep next to their phones than another person (and always in a rental property, natch).

These demographics are defined by age, so if you were born between the early 1960s and the early 1980s then you can call yourself a member of Gen x, and if you were born between the mid 1980s and early 2000s, then you’re classed as a millennial. 

But with some 20 years spanning each demographic, it can be hard to fit everyone into one of the two generations, so sociologists have coined a new term to describe those who sit somewhere in between: the xennials.

Born between 1977 and 1983, xennials enjoy some of the financial freedom offered to gen x-ers, but they’re not as tech-savvy as millennials.

In other words, they can afford plenty of avocado on toast, but they wouldn’t have a clue how to Instagram it (for shame).

Xennials fit the micro-generational gap between gen x and millennials, and had both an analogue childhood and a digital adulthood, meaning they grew up without the internet before being introduced to emails, social media and the like in their twenties.

Describing his experience of growing up as a xennial, Dan Woodman, Associate Professor of Sociology at The University of Melbourne, told Australian website MamaMia, "It was a particularly unique experience. You have a childhood, youth and adolescence free of having to worry about social media posts and mobile phones...

“We learned to consume media and came of age before there was Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat and all these things where you still watch the evening news or read the newspaper.”

Hannah from Girls is a millennial, while her parents are Gen X

Hannah from Girls is a millennial, while her parents are Gen X

Even with this new microgroup, however, Woodman still believes some people will find it hard to identify with any of the three demographics.

"Internal to whatever these groups are, whether it’s millennials or xennials, there’s going to be people who have very very different experiences based on whether they’re a man or a woman, whether they had a lot of money or not much money as a kid," he added.

"Because there’s still people in the millennial group who didn’t have a phone until they were older because they couldn’t afford it and I do remember that there was a couple of really rich kids when I was a later teen that had phones."

We certainly remember our first phone – a beloved brick with an antenna that would give us wrist-ache as we tried to whittle our text messages down to the 110 character limit.

Does that make us a xennial or a millennial? We’re going to have some avocado on toast and check our Twitter feed while we try to decide…

Images: HBO / Instagram


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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Features Editor at Stylist

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