Xennials (also known as the Oregon Trail Generation and Generation Catalano) are the micro-generation of people on the cusp of the Generation X and Millennial demographic cohorts, typically born between the late 1970s and early 1980s. Xennials are described as having had an analog childhood and a digital adulthood.
In 2017, Xennial was included in Merriam-Webster's "Words We're Watching" section which discusses new words which are increasingly being used, but which do not yet meet criteria for a dictionary entry.
The neologistic term "Xennials" is a portmanteau blending the words Generation X and Millennials to describe a "micro-generation" or "cross-over generation" of people whose birth years are between the late 1970s and the early 1980s.
"Xennials" was reported to be first created and used in a September 2014 article in GOOD magazine  written by Sarah Stankorb and Jed Oelbaum. Good magazine has described Xennials as "a micro-generation that serves as a bridge between the disaffection of Gen X and the blithe optimism of Millennials". Dan Woodman, an Australian sociologist, was credited by the Australian media with inventing it, but said he did not coin it. The earliest traced usage is the 2014 Good article with several people taking the field and claiming naming recognition.
In 2018, Business Insider described "Xennials" as people who don't feel like a Generation Xer or a Millennial, using birth dates between 1977 and 1985. Merriam-Webster includes Xennial in "Words We're Watching". "In internet folklore, xennials are those born between 1977 and 1983, according to The Guardian."
The term Oregon Trail Generation was used by Anna Garvey in her 2015 article "The Oregon Trail Generation: Life Before And After Mainstream Tech", published in Social Media Week to describe those born at "the tail end of the 70s and the start of the 80s". It is named after the video game The Oregon Trail, the Apple II version of which was played by many American GenX/Millennial cuspers in their school computer labs. Other terms, such as Xennials, Generation Catalano and The Lucky Ones are referenced.
Slate defined Generation Catalano as those born from 1977 to 1981, essentially Jimmy Carter's presidency. The name is a reference to the character Jordan Catalano from the 1990s teen drama My So-Called Life.
Characteristics and traits
Many who identify with the cusp years of Xennials, Oregon Trail Generation, or Generation Catalano do so because they do not feel they fit within the typical definitions of Generation X or Millennials.
The Generation X and Millenial demographic cohorts have been studied concerning generational differences in the workplace. Researchers out of Eindhoven University of Technology found that not every person that belongs to a major generation will share all the same characteristics that are representative for that generation. People that are born on the cusp of a birth cohort may have overlapping characteristics that are related to both. This concept is called “generational fuzziness,” and can lead to the formation of a “microgeneration.” Researcher Melissa Kempf Taylor of the University of Louisville has written that the current microgeneration in the workforce is the Xennial generation, who have their own collective personality. “In generational theory, a cusp is the group of individuals who fall into the overlap between two generations.” “This overlap creates a cusp generation” which bridges the divide between “major generations.”
Cassie McClure, writing for Las Cruces Sun-News, described those in the Oregon Trail Generation as "remembering a time before the digital age, but barely". Anna Garvey has described these individuals as having "both a healthy portion of Gen X grunge cynicism, and a dash of the unbridled optimism of Millennials", and discusses their relationship with both analog and digital technology. Sheknows.com has described individuals born in the late 1970s and early 1980s as sharing traits with both Generation X and Millennials.
Anna Garvey characterized U.S members of this group as having had an "AOL adolescence" and as being from "the last gasp of a time before sexting, Facebook shaming, and constant communication". The Dickinson Press described those born in the early 1980s as having early adulthoods which were impacted by the events of the September 11 attacks and the Iraq War.
According to Australian sociologist, Dan Woodman, "The theory goes that the Xennials dated, and often formed ongoing relationships, pre-social media. They usually weren't on Tinder or Grindr, for their first go at dating at least. They called up their friends and the person they wanted to ask out on a landline phone, hoping that it wasn't their intended date's parent who picked up." Woodman has referred to Xennials as a "cross-over generation" crediting this concept to journalists writing about individuals born during the cusp years, saying that this idea sounds plausible with respect to generations because "the divisions we use aren’t particularly robust. They tend to be imported from North America without much thought, built arbitrarily around the Boomers, and capture changes that often don’t have clear inflection points, so dates can vary." Although he warns that an entire cohort of people will not have one set of characteristics or experiences. Woodman also says "the 'Xennials' must be taken with several grains of salt. There isn't yet any strong academic evidence for the grouping, although clearly the idea resonates with a lot of people who felt left out by the usual categorizations."
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