‘Xennials’ were born in the early ’80s — here are all the ways they’re different from the millennials they were supposed to be

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“Oregon Trail” was a big hit when they were kids.
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ABC

  • Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996.
  • Xennials are a “microgeneration” born between 1977 and 1985.
  • There are meaningful differences between their lives. For example, xennials were already in the workforce when the recession hit, while many millennials were just graduating from college.

If you were born between 1977 and 1985, you’re officially a member of the microgeneration known as xennials.

The term was coined by Sarah Stankorb in a 2014 Good magazine article to describe a group that straddles Gen X, born between 1965 and 1980, and millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, according to the Pew Research Center.

Xennials, according to Stankorb and the many similar stories that followed, grew up watching “My So-Called Life” and popping cassettes into the stereo, but transitioned pretty seamlessly to using smartphones and social media.

Some people call them the “Oregon Trail generation,” after the once popular video game, or “Generation Catalano,” after Jared Leto’s character in “My So-Called Life.”

Below, we’ve outlined some of the biggest differences between xennials and their slightly younger siblings, millennials.


Xennials were already in the workforce when the recession hit. Many millennials, however, were just graduating from college and looking for jobs. Interestingly, some research suggests that xennials may have been hit hardest by the recession because of a combination of student-loan debt, job losses, and other factors.

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Flickr / COD Newsroom

Sources: GOOD Magazine and CityLab


Many xennials made it through their childhood and teen years without social media — no Facebook or even Myspace. Many millennials, on the other hand, had Myspace and Facebook accounts before entering college.

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aaltonen via Flickr

Source: Social Media Week


On September 11, 2001, xennials were in their teens and 20s; millennials were much younger. As one writer said of xennials, “Much of our childhoods were spared the dark shadow cast by tragedy and war,” while millennials were somewhat shaken out of their innocence.

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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Source: GOOD Magazine


Xennials generally didn’t get cellphones until their 20s. As kids, they used pay phones and called landlines — meaning they often had to talk to the friends’ parents first. But some millennials were given cellphones as kids or teens.

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Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

Sources: GOOD Magazine and Social Media Week


Overall, xennials’ parents were more relaxed than millennials’ helicopter parents. One writer characterized the helicopter-parenting style as “achievement-obsessed, upper-middle-class parents who cared so much about their children’s comfortable excellence that they did everything they could to ensure it.”

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Mats Lindh/Flickr

Sources: GOOD Magazine and Refinery29


Xennials aren’t especially pessimistic, but they aren’t as optimistic and confident as millennials tend to be. A 2016 report found that millennials were more optimistic about the future than previous generations of young people.

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Gleb Leonov/Strelka Institute/Flickr

Sources: GOOD Magazine and Business Insider