In high school, I communicated with boyfriends solely via our house phone. Nights were spent driving by popular hangouts like the corner store, hoping to run into other kids. I couldn’t lie when I called home because my parents had caller ID. I got my first email account in college, and I purchased my first cell phone in my 20s. And watching Dawson’s Creek and Felicity were essential to my well-being.
I am, according to a recent article published on Did You Know?, a “xennial.”
Apparently, xennials are a “micro-generation” of people born between 1977-1983. I fall smack in the middle, born in 1980. Reading this article, the criteria fit me to a T. The article says “xennials experienced an analogue childhood and a digital adulthood” and “possess both Gen X cynicism and Millenial optimism and drive.”
This paragraph takes me back, as it exactly describes my college experience: “We had cell phones in college, but they stayed in our glove boxes because they couldn’t do anything but call, and it cost so much we actually reserved them for emergencies. We used dial-up. Instant Messenger felt like the future had arrived, and we spent hours waiting to hear the noise of a door opening and closing, hoping that our crush had signed online.”
My first cell phone plan cost a pile of diamonds and gold, and I never dared use it before 7:00 p.m. Texting was new and exciting but took a day and a half to type out a sentence. Instant Messenger was my lifeline and the primary form of communication with college friends and boyfriends. Nothing was more exciting then seeing a certain boy’s name turn bold on my computer screen, meaning he was now active.
Seven years isn’t enough to qualify as a full generation, but this article says we aren’t really gen xers or true millennials.
“We were the last kids to make it all the way to grown up without pervasive technology. We were the first 20-somethings to learn how to use iPods and internet on our phones, how to text and online date. We straddle a gap, exist between two worlds, and have, in some ways, lived two separate lives instead of one. And that, I think, earns us our own title (at the very least).”
This could not be more true. As a child free from technology (unless you count the boombox I begged for in 8th grade as high-tech), I am now an adult completely dependent on it. But I made it well into adulthood before switching over.
I didn’t have my first smartphone until six years ago, which meant very few pictures of my first child ever made it into social media posts. When I moved to Wisconsin in 2006, I was 26 years old. I bought a giant book of maps and learned the city of Milwaukee and its surrounding suburbs by getting lost, getting out my book of maps, finding where I was, and continuing on. Now, a mere 11 years later, the thought of reading an actual map is hilarious to me. Um, hello Siri and Google Maps?
I remember the grunge culture, but I was a bit too young to fully fit in there.
But these full-on, tech-savvy millenials overwhelm me with their podcasts and apps and tech-language that sounds like Latin.
Now, at 37, I continue to straddle the tech-free and tech-dependent worlds I’ve lived in. We only have one iPad in our house, and one TV (but it’s a smart TV). I still read real books with pages that I borrow from the library, but if I need to know how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon, I use my phone to find out (or call my mom). And my 8-year-old sometimes has to help me figure out the latest app or social media trend society says I need.
I love my new-found title—xennial—and my membership within a microgeneration. Because when I look back at the life I’ve lived, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Now can someone help me figure out iTunes? I still don’t get it.
P.S., we were told this name came out way back in 2014! Here’s the original story for your reading enjoyment.