I was born in 1980. Some say that means I belong to the Generation X, others believe that this makes me a Millennial and thus a member of Generation Y. A frustrating state of affairs if you are like me and prefer things to be all nice and tidy.
Anyone born between 1977 and 1985 will know this problem. These nine years are not enough to qualify as a separate generation, but many who are born in that time never quite feel like they belong. And they have every reason to think that.
A life in between
The years of our birth lie between two huge generations. We had to bridge the divide between an analog childhood and digital adulthood and we are reminded of this day after day. We live with one foot in Generation X and one in Generation Y. This is an uncomfortable position to keep up and we aren't fond of it.
But there is a simple solution: We can call ourselves a microgeneration. We are not Gen-Xers. We are not Millennials. We are in between, we are Xennials.
Nobody quite knows who first coined that term. For a long time it was falsely attributed to the Australian sociologist Dan Woodman. Author Sarah Stankorb claims first use of the word in an Essay for the Magazin "Good" in 2014. But whoever came up with it, the term really nails it.
Parents as final bosses
Like the Gen-Xers, as children we played outdoors, engaged in games we made ourselves, a long time before the advent of gaming consoles. We made macramé bracelets for our friends and wrote each other postcards.
We couldn't coordinate meetups with friends by text, chat or Whatsapp. We had to pick up the receiver, call their house, introduce ourselves to their parents and persuade them to hand us to our friend. This sometime felt like dodging obstacles in Mario Land's boss fights.
I once had the father of a friend tell me: "I'm sorry but I can't bother Susan right now. She's watching Emergency Room." I spent nearly half an hour explaining the one-sentence message I wanted him to relay to her.
Astronomical figures on telephone bills and screeching modems
But then they arrived: The first cellphones. Finally we had a way of contacting our friends without having to vanquish their parents first. We joyfully commenced texting and texting and texting. That led to a horrendous phone bill, which was met with less than joyful responses by our parents, but that is a story for another day.
Our fist computers were either Intels, 286 or 486, or the Commodore Amiga. Our first video games came on floppy disks. They were played with the keyboard or a joystick. Oh how I loved the Winter Games or Prince of Persia! And of course my first email adress ended with "@hotmail.com". And do you remember the racket the old modems used to make!?
But nowadays we use social media like we were born to do it. But we can remember a life without them. Our earliest childhood is recorded on Super-8 tapes that are barely even legible today. I feel for all the kids who will have to relive their potty successes and failures in full HD in a few years. We grew up without the stress of being constantly photographed, filmed or location tracked. Pictures of our childhood were never posted on Facebook.
As we were growing up, technology matured along side us. We had time to get used to it and were still young enough to feel right at home with it.
Oasis or Green Day?
Our childhood was peaceful. The Cold War that had terrified Generation X was already almost over by the time we were born. It did not concern us. We heard of the war in Iraq and the conflict in the Balkans but both of those still seemed very far away.
It was nothing compared to the war in Afghanistan that was very present in the mind of young Millennials. Our most important conflicts were about whether we wore Buffalos or skater shoes, or if we listened to Green day or Oasis.
It follows that the psychological makeup of the typical Xennial should lie somewhere between the typical Millennial and the members of Gen X, according to Professor Woodman of the University of Melbourne. He told Mamamia that they were "between the Gen X group -- who we think of as the depressed flannelette-shirt wearing, grunge-listening children that came after the Baby Boomers and the Millennials -- who get described as optimistic, tech savvy and maybe a little bit too sure of themselves and too confident."
Or in other words: Xennials are neither depressed nor overly optimistic. We hold the optimal balance.
All things considered, it is not frustrating to stand between generations. I would rather say that we have managed to catch the perfect time to be born!