I was recently asked “what defines a generation?” A great question in a world that is rapidly removing the constructs of separation and marginalization. As a Generation Specialist (someone who spends her time observing the traits, values and behaviours of groups that fit within loosely determined timeframes) I have ascertained that there are indeed definite groups of humans that demonstrate common “indicators” related to values, behaviours and traits. It is these generalised “indicators” that ultimately define a specific generation, inherently driven by levels of consciousness, which in turn are influenced by environment.
“Cuspers” is a term used when referring to a small group born on the cusp of two different generations. Xennials (born between 1977 and 1985) are classic “cuspers” flanked by Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979) and the Millennial’s (born between 1980 and 1995). “Cuspers” carry a misconceived reality they don’t have a part to play in the generational conversation due to them sharing values, behaviours and traits with two generations they find themselves sandwiched between. In actuality it is this very fact that makes them great mediators in the blending of innovative and new with experience and wisdom. The term Xennial was coined in 2014, by Sarah Stankorb in Good Magazine.
A word to aptly define Generation X would be independence, children of career driven parents. Owning the right to individualism is a Gen X pillar joined with a warrior archetype. Warriors committed to fighting and alleviating all things unjust and unfair. This is a generation raised in the transition phase of written based learning and knowledge mediums to digital knowledge archives. Many would have been schooled without computers but would have had to adopt and adapt to levels of computer literacy. With this adaptation came an ardent desire to learn, explore and make a contribution, laced however with a strong cynicism towards institutions and government. A new study by Nielsen reveals surprisingly that Gen X’ers spend more time on social platforms during an average week than any other adult age group. As early adopters of Social Media Gen X are currently amazingly active online. This lifestyle is directly linked to their social group of friends and family. If these social friends and family were to stop using Facebook, their usage would decline versus finding new online friends. Facebook and Twitter are the preferred platforms.
A word to aptly define Millennial’s would be collaboration. This is a generation that actively seeks a “tribe”, predominately virtual, to connect with. The need to be “liked” and to “fit” is a cornerstone of their existence in a world mostly devoid of realism. They have great life expectations but unrealistic timeframes to achieve said expectations. Millennial’s have no perception of a world without computers and cell phones. They use their devices to access all forms of information and largely their socialization is from the internet. Digital literacy rules. Millennial’s have been born into technology unlike their younger counterparts, Generation Z, who are born of technology. Being born into technology unfortunately has hampered the Millennial’s on an emotional level in that they find themselves unable to function without (some would say addicted) to Social Media, therefore affecting their abilities to develop deep, meaningful and intimate face to face relationships. This leads to an emotional intelligence empathy gap. It’s very easy not to feel when ending a relationship by hitting “send” or swiping right. The good news however is that latest research coming from Nielsen informs us that the younger Millennial’s (the “Zennials” – “cuspers” between Millennial and Generation Z) are in fact becoming more and more disillusioned with Social Media largely due to the privacy scandals. They are equally becoming more discerning on their choice of Social Media platforms. Instagram and YouTube are firm favorites.
Enter the Xennials! Taking into consideration the traits for the two generations that flank them this micro group are apt at bringing the best characteristics of the Gen X’ers and Millennial’s to the fore. Xennials are the translators, peacemakers and troubleshooters. They bridge the generational divide. Hitting a workforce earlier than the Millennials they were faced with navigating the recession, therefore burdened with bigger student loans, job losses and debt. It is these challenges that have equipped Xennials with great problem solving skills and the ability to critically think. Xennials would have entered college without Social Media versus Millenials who would have had Social Media on their smartphones or devises for most of their lives. Good Magazine shares some interesting facts; Xennials would have only been exposed to cell phones in their twenties which means they would have been adept at using landlines and having to speak to their friends parents when making calls allowing relationships to form. These relationships would have ignited an emotional intelligence competency called trust. This indicates Xennials where exposed to a much more relaxed parenting style. Computer games were just being birthed so Xennials found themselves enjoying more basic games with less selection, helping to ensure technology and life balance. Xennials experienced the shift from purchasing cassette tapes and CD’s to music that could be downloaded giving them a greater ethical appreciation of a monetary exchange. This is a generation comfortable with “new”. Their developed internal ecosystems allow for an effortless embracing of adaptability. They embrace Social Media but are not driven by it. They acknowledge the need for interaction on Social Media but are not obsessed by it. They use Social Media for growing their businesses and networking purposes but equally share a desire to communicate face to face ensuring human connection and trusted relationships.
All hail the Xennials, adequately navigating the exponential growth of 21st Century technology (of which Social Media is just one aspect) with grace and elegance. A generation born to create harmony.