Xennials (also known as the Oregon Trail Generation and Generation Catalano) is a neologistic term used to describe people born during the Generation X/Millennial cusp years, typically from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. People who identify with 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.
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 term "Xennials" is a portmanteau blending the names of Generation X and the Millennials to describe individuals born during the Generation X/Millennial cusp years of the late 1970s to the early 1980s.
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. 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 were already coined and are referenced in her article.
Slate defines Generation Catalano as being 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.
GOOD magazine describes Xennials as "a micro-generation that serves as a bridge between the disaffection of Gen X and the blithe optimism of Millennials", using the term to describe those born between 1977 and 1983. The term Xennials received additional attention in June 2017 following an Instagram post describing the term which went viral on Facebook. Dan Woodman, an Australian sociologist, was credited by the Australian media with inventing the term, but Woodman says he did not coin the term. The term Xennial is reported to be first created and used in a September 2014 article in Good magazine written by Sarah Stankorb and Jed Oelbaum.
Merriam-Webster includes Xennial in their Words We're Watching section, defining the term as "a word that refers to people who were born on the cusp between Generation X and the millennials. Some consider 'xennials' to be those born between 1977 and 1983."
Characteristics and traits
Many who identify with the cusp years of Oregon Trail Generation, Xennials or Generation Catalano do so because they do not feel they fit within the typical definitions of Generation X or Millennials. Cassie McClure, writing for Las Cruces Sun-News, describes those in the Oregon Trail Generation as "remembering a time before the digital age, but barely". Anna Garvey describes 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 describes individuals born in the late 1970s and early 1980s as sharing traits with both Generation X and Millennials.
Anna Garvey describes 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". Marleen Stollen writing for Business Insider described Xennials as term for people who don't feel like a Gen Xer or a Millennial, using birth dates between 1977 and 1985. The Dickinson Press describes 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 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."
- Stankorb, Sarah; Oelbaum, Jed (25 September 2014). "Reasonable People Disagree about the Post-Gen X, Pre-Millennial Generation". Good Magazine. Good Worldwide. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- Garvey, Anna (21 April 2015). "The Oregon Trail Generation: Life Before And After Mainstream Tech". Social Media Week. Crowdcentric Media, LLC. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- Wagner, Tony (8 May 2017). "What did Oregon Trail teach us?". Marketplace. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
- Shafrir, Doree (24 October 2011). "Generation Catalano". Slate. The Slate Group. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- Anna, Garvey (25 May 2016). "The Biggest Difference Between Millennials and My Generation". Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
- "Are you a xennial? Take the quiz". The Guardian. 26 June 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- Davies, P.H. (23 May 2017). "What is a Xennial?". Instagram. Instagram. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
- Vitto, Laura (30 June 2017). "Hey 30-somethings, you're a Xennial". Mashable. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
- "I Made Up Xennial 3 Years Ago, So Why Is a Professor in Australia Getting All the Credit?". Vogue. Retrieved 2017-11-10.[dead link]
- "Words We're Watching: 'Xennial'". Retrieved 2017-12-02.
- LaFrance, Adrienne (3 February 2016). "How Generations Get Their Names". The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
- Kendzior, Sarah (30 June 2016). "The myth of millennial entitlement was created to hide their parents' mistakes". Quartz. Atlantic Media Company. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
- McClure, Cassie (20 May 2016). "My So-Called Millennial Life: Old West pioneers of digital age". Las Cruces Sun-News. The USA Today Network. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
- Fogarty, Lisa (7 January 2016). "13 Signs you're stuck between Gen X & millennials". SheKnows. SheKnows Media. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
- Stollen, Marleen (10 January 2018). "There's a term for people born in the early 80's who don't feel like a millennial or Gen Xer". Business Insider. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
- Monke, Dustin (31 May 2015). "Monke: A generation stuck in transition". The Dickinson Press. The Dickinson Press and Forum Communications Company. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
- Woodman, Dan (12 July 2017). "From Boomers to Xennials: we love talking about our generations, but must recognise their limits". The Conversation. Retrieved 13 June 2018.