So the whole “Xennial” thing – the cohort born between 1977 and 1983, who straddle between being a true member of “Generation X” and the millennial generation – has been getting some publicity online over the past few weeks. Why NOW? Being an “Xennial” myself (born in 1979), I have LONG thought it was an issue. In fact, I even WROTE about this back in 2004, in a piece published in the Toronto Star (it isn’t available online)! Hmmmmm…I guess the Toronto Star just isn’t “important” enough to have made an impact. Or more likely, in 2004, social media (at its infancy) wasn’t big enough for my article to have gone viral.
Photo of the article I wrote in 2004
In my article, I talked about how we grew up in an era where we didn’t have many “true” icons. Sure, as kids, we were part of the Cabbage Patch Kids craze and were the first cohort to be exposed to computers as children (remember creating flags on Commodore 64s?), but as teenagers? Compared to Generation X, who had celebrities like Madonna, Prince and Cyndi Lauper and Millennials, with their boy bands, we had little. Sure, there was New Kids on the Block, but they didn’t last THAT long (not as long as N’Sync, anyway). On television, there was Beverly Hills, 90210, but we shared the obsession with later Gen Xers. The only iconic thing I can think of that REALLY addressed us and was FOR US, fairly exclusively, was My So-Called Life. It didn’t even last ONE SEASON.
Of course, it isn’t all negative. After all, having cultural icons unique to your youth isn’t EVERYTHING and we probably had more of a “traditional” childhood compared to millennials – especially younger millennials. Many of us freely rode our bikes in our neighbourhood and didn’t have as scheduled a childhood (okay, I sort of did, but it was limited to Brownies/Guides and piano lessons). We were able to HAVE FUN, and CREATIVE FUN at that. We (at I wasn’t) weren’t criticized because we built a wall instead of whatever was pictured on the box when we got a Lego set for our birthday. Fewer of us were overweight because we played outside so much more. We were probably the last ones who were able to do that (I loved spending time in our backyard where we had a swing set. A neighbourhood kid would often just pop in just to play). But still, it would have been nice to have SOMETHING we could say defined our middle and high school years – especially for the ’77-80 set. Current events like the OJ trial don’t count.
I’m not looking for actual acknowledgement of coming up with this first…more than a decade ago (okay, maybe I’m KIND of looking for some acknowledgement), but it’s just a little..weird to me (and probably much of my cohort) that we’re only getting some press NOW. Why not earlier? I guess it’s like being a middle child. Yes, the Xennial cohort is, if we want to borrow from an even earlier generation, Jan Brady.