Generational Theory Forgot The Xennial Experience
I have long had a love/hate relationship with the generation talk. The part I hate is simply boiled down to the fact that employers and marketers alike often think that generational theory provides them with a magic checklist with which they can compartmentalize people, subject them to certain conditions and reap the rewards by them behaving just as the theory proposed.
Generational theory at it’s best provides individuals with the language to describe the way they see and interact with the world. Humans like to group things. I think we like it because it makes it easier for us to process experiences or people by having a set of norms be attached to one group versus taking the time to sift through the multitude of difference.
Personally, I have been thrown in the bucket of Millennial based on when I was born and it never sat right with me. Depending on who is speaking, millennials are typically born between 1980-1995. This is the generation that is digital savvy, wants it all and is supposedly unwilling to work for it. A terrible generalization, but nevertheless I find it hard to identify with a generation that hasn’t really accounted for my personal experience. My very unscientific experience has been that I have very little if not nothing in common with someone who is 22 years of age in 2017. That is to say, my approach to life, work and even technology is vastly different than someone born in 1995 and it even differs the later you get into the 80’s as well.
I was always quietly frustrated with much of the generational talk as an HR professional because I never met one generation that spoke directly to me. That was until, I read Mashable’s: The Oregon Trail Generation: Life before and after mainstream tech. Reading this piece by Anna Garvey, my life and perspective was illuminated. She talked about the unique experience of people born in the late 70’s and early 80’s who lived in a time before the digital boom experiencing a largely analog life and who experienced adolescence at a time when technology was undergoing a major shift.
If you grew up in the late 70’s and 80’s in the US, Oregon Trail was one of the first games you learned to play on the old Macintosh’s so plentifully supplied to the computer labs of elementary and middle schools in the U.S. Playing games like this on floppy disks cascaded into the wonder of CD-Rom and the dial-up internet age that we all came to love in our adolescence.
Before I get too nostalgic, it is important to note that unlike our younger millennial counterparts, we grew up in a time where technology was a nice-to-have rather than a cornerstone of everyday life. It is my belief that this experience is unique and has shaped people born from 1978-1984 in a much different way than previously thought.
I have always struggled with the duality of appreciating the norms of analog life while also being incredibly excited and sometimes annoyed by how quickly technology has shifted everything we know. When asked, I would always tell people I felt like I was a little Gen X and a little millennial. Who knew someday that the Xennial Experience would become a thing. Xennials are essentially a hybrid micro-generation that encompasses both Gen X and Millennial qualities.
Consequently, when Anna Garvey’s article hit the cyberwaves online it went viral. Thousands of people shared her article across social media sharing that they felt similarly, but never had the language to describe the feeling.
As a result of all of this, I want to take it one step further. I have created a short survey to get a sense of how Xennials experience life and career. It is called: The Xennial Experience Survey and it is my goal to get as many people as possible born between 1978-1984 in the U.S. to take my survey.
Full disclosure: There have been several articles on this topic coining different names for this micro-generation. I am now seeking to put some data behind it to substantiate the claim that we deserve a generation that stands independent of Gen X and Millennial.
If you or someone you know was born between 1978-1984 in the U.S., please take and/or share my Xennial Experience Survey below:
I will be running this study all year. I hope to have some preliminary results to report in 2018. Thank you for participating. Stay tuned!
P.S. If you are interested in receiving my findings when they become available, please reach out to me at: Janine@talentthinkinnovations.com
P.S.S. I did a show about this topic of Xennials on my Ask Czarina Live show recently. You can watch the show by going to: bit.ly/XennialsTV.