Are you a millennial? What even is a millennial?
There’s actually a surprising amount of argument about what defines a millennial, with most researchers agreeing that it’s the generation of people born between the early 1980s and late 1990s. Which would make me a millennial, even though I really don’t feel like one.
And that’s because when people use the term millennial today, they’re not simply referring to the rough period when someone was born. It basically means young people. Specifically, Young people these days, eh? Tsk…
Millennials is usually used to refer to people in their late teens or early twenties, particularly in terms of how they’re lacking certain qualities the older generation exemplified and they’re too soft and blah blah blah…
You can probably tell that I’m not too fond of the term. First of all, because complaints about millennials are nothing new. People have always been annoyed by “the youth of today.” Those younger than us always seem softer or less serious than our own generation. That’s just the way we see the world, and conveniently forget when we were young and stupid.
The only difference now is that now we’ve got a term that really seems to have stuck. I don’t know what it is about the word millennial that attracts people: maybe it just has a nice ring to it. We’ve always had terms for different generations. Before millennials there was Generation X, and before them there were the Baby Boomers (both mainly American terms). Millennial has really grabbed people’s imagination though.
Of course what I mainly dislike about such terms is how they generalise whole, vast groups of people. How can you reduce a whole generation to some simplistic, negative stereotypes? And people usually aren’t actually thinking of such wide-ranging groups of people anyway. Using such terms also reveals people’s own biases, as they’re usually thinking of American or generally “Western” young, middle-class, often white people, and ignoring the huge numbers of people from other demographics who don’t neatly fit into those stereotypes.
So I’m not too fond of stereotypes of lazy millennials, and nor do I consider myself a millennial, or a member of Generation X (I really didn’t like that book). I might be willing to condiser myself a xennial though. This is a new term I’ve come across recently. The first thing that makes me more tolerant of it is that it’s at least quite specific, referring to someone born between 1977 and 1985. The relevance of this period is that it means that, basically, xennials had an analogue childhood, but a digital adulthood.
Thinking of my own life, that was certainly true. As a child I was well aware of what a computer was, and vaguely aware of what it could do, but it certainly wasn’t something the average person had at home. Video games, on the other hand, were quite common, as was other technology. In my last years of secondary school we had rudimentary computer classes, and when I started college my brother had got a PC for his room and I was able to manage some basic functions of a computer like email and word processing.
I can definitely see the contrast between my childhood and adulthood in terms of the role of technology in my life, but as computers became much more available while I was still relatively young, it was a pretty easy transition. It’s interesting though, to see my nephews who are so adept at using current technology, having grown up with it, and older generations who can find it more difficult to adapt to new technologies. Being a xennial isn’t so bad, as it makes me fall in a comfortable halfway point between both.
But if you want to come up with any generalisations about us proud xennials, count me out.