Xennials, also known as the Oregon Trail Generation, Generation Catalano, or Cuspers, are the micro-generation of people on the cusp of the Generation X and Millennial demographic cohorts. Researchers and popular media use birth years from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. Xennials are described as having had an analog childhood and a digital young adulthood.
In 2020, xennial was included in the Oxford Dictionary of English.
Terminology and birth year definitions
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 coined by writer Sarah Stankorb, and discussed in a two-part, September 2014 article in GOOD magazine written by Stankorb, a freelance writer, and then-GOOD Magazine staff writer 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 mis-credited by the Australian media with inventing it, but clarified he did not in fact coin the term. Jed Oelbaum credits Sarah Stankorb with the term. The earliest traced usage comes from the 2014 Good article, which Stankorb pitched to Good, including the term Xennial. 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. Merriam-Webster Dictionary credited Stankorb with coining the term. In 2020, xennial was included in the Oxford Dictionary of English. The definition given is "a member of an age group born after Generation X and before the millennial generation (specifically in the late 1970s and early 1980s)".
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. "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 1982, essentially Jimmy Carter's presidency. The name is a reference to the character Jordan Catalano, played by Jared Leto, from the 1990s teen drama My So-Called Life.
Characteristics and traits
The Generation X and Millennial 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.”
In 2004, Cynthia Cheng wrote a piece for the Toronto Star entitled "My So-Called Generation," where she referred to the cohort as "Bridges."
Marleen Stollen and Gisela Wolf of Business Insider Germany wrote that Xennials "had to bridge the divide between an analog childhood and digital adulthood." They are described as the youngest digital immigrants.
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". Dustin Monke of 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.
"There are common experiences," explains Almudena Moreno, sociologist at the University of Valladolid and co-author of the Youth Report in Spain 2012, "and one of the differences between generations can be access to technological instruments, which provide a common living context." This context also influences how we relate to others. 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 "Clearly the idea resonates with a lot of people who felt left out by the usual categorizations." This does not mean that these terms have no value. As Woodman explains, paraphrasing philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, "we are formed by the time in which we live," especially by the experiences of our youth, "which determine our lives and can create new political movements."
- "If you were born between 1977 and 1983, there's a new name for you". Mamamia. 22 June 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
- Chase, Ashley Krenelka (23 April 2018). "Upending the Double Life of Law Schools: Millennials in the Legal Academy". University of Dayton Law Review, Forthcoming. Stetson University College of Law Research Paper No. 2018-4. doi:10.2139/ssrn.3167442.
- 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.
- 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.
- "Words We're Watching: 'Xennial' Talkin' 'bout whose generation?". Merriam-Webster. 7 November 2017. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
- "I Made Up Xennial 3 Years Ago, So Why Is a Professor in Australia Getting All the Credit?". Vogue. Archived from the original on 14 November 2017. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
- "Are you a xennial? Take the quiz". The Guardian. London. 26 June 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- O, Jed [@jedoelbaum] (27 June 2017). "Thanks for the cite! That was a fun piece. @sarahstankorb deserves credit for the term" (Tweet). Retrieved 27 July 2017 – via Twitter.
- "Xennial". Lexico. Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
- Vitto, Laura (30 June 2017). "Hey 30-somethings, you're a Xennial". Mashable. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
- 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.
- Lebowitz, Shana (10 March 2018). "There's a term for people born in the early 80s who don't feel like a millennial or a Gen X-er – here's everything we know". Business Insider. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
- Garvey, Anna (21 April 2015). "The Oregon Trail Generation: Life Before And After Mainstream Tech". Social Media Week. 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. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- Anna, Garvey (25 May 2016). "The Biggest Difference Between Millennials and My Generation". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
- LaFrance, Adrienne (3 February 2016). "How Generations Get Their Names". The Atlantic. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
- Kendzior, Sarah (30 June 2016). "The myth of millennial entitlement was created to hide their parents' mistakes". Quartz. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
- Lyons, Sean; Kuron, Lisa (17 December 2013). "Generational differences in the workplace: A review of the evidence and directions for future research". Journal of Organizational Behavior. 35: S139–S157. doi:10.1002/job.1913.
- Appel-Meulenbroek, H.A.J.A.; Vosters, S.M.C. (2019). "Workplace needs and their support; are millennials different from other generations?" (PDF). Twenty Fifth Annual Pacific Rim Real Estate Society Conference. Melbourne.
- Taylor, Melissa Kempf (2018). "Xennials: a microgeneration in the workplace". Industrial and Commercial Training. 50 (3): 136–147. doi:10.1108/ICT-08-2017-0065.
- The article is no longer available directly from the Toronto Star website, but can be found on a My So-Called Life forum and on her Instagram account.
- McClure, Cassie (20 May 2016). "My So-Called Millennial Life: Old West pioneers of digital age". Las Cruces Sun-News. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
- Fogarty, Lisa (7 January 2016). "13 Signs you're stuck between Gen X & millennials". SheKnows. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
- Monke, Dustin (31 May 2015). "Monke: A generation stuck in transition". The Dickinson Press. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
- Hancock, Jaimie Rubio (28 June 2017). "¿Naciste entre 1977 y 1983? Pues ni Generación X ni 'millennial', eres un 'xennial'". El Pais (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 24 January 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
'Hay vivencias comunes', explica a Verne Almudena Moreno, socióloga de la Universidad de Valladolid y coautora del Informe de la Juventud en España 2012, 'y una de las diferencias entre generaciones puede ser el acceso a los instrumentos tecnológicos, que proporcionan un contexto vivencial común'. Este contexto también influye en cómo nos relacionamos con los demás. [...] Esto no quiere decir que estos términos no tengan ningún valor. Como explica Woodman, parafraseando a José Ortega y Gasset, 'estamos formados por el tiempo en el que vivimos', especialmente por las experiencias de nuestra juventud, 'que determinan nuestras vidas y pueden crear nuevos movimientos políticos'.