We were the babies who grew up without the internet and went on to find online jobs.
If you were born between 1977 and 1983, you belong to a group being re-defined as Xennials.
We had analogue childhoods, wedged between Gen X and Millennials, and adapted to a digital revolution in adulthood.
Xennials are a mix between the so-called pessimistic Gen X and optimistic Millennials, says TR Ashworth Associate Professor of Sociology at The University of Melbourne, Dan Woodman.
“The idea is there’s this micro or in-between generation between the Gen X group – who we think of as the depressed flannelette-shirt-wearing, grunge-listening children that came after the Baby Boomers and the Millennials – who get described as optimistic, tech savvy and maybe a little bit too sure of themselves and too confident,” Professor Woodman told Mamamia.
Woodman is a Xennial, born in 1980, and during his Canberran high school years he memorised landline phone numbers and watched prime-time TV.
Although he warns an entire cohort of people won’t have one value set or one set of dispositions, Xennials did grow up during a unique time.
"Around technology they do have a particular experience – we hit this social media and IT digital technology boom in our 20s," said Associate Professor Woodman.
"It was a particularly unique experience. You have a childhood, youth and adolescence free of having to worry about social media posts and mobile phones. It was a time when we had to organise to catch up with our friends on the weekends using the landline, and actually pick a time and a place and turn up there.
"Then we hit this technology revolution before we were maybe in that frazzled period of our life with kids and no time to learn anything new. We hit it where we could still adopt in a selective way the new technologies," he added.
Woodman started his first email account after he finished high school. He sent emails, letters and post-cards during his gap year travelling.
Had a chat to a year four student about life before the internet (i.e my whole childhood/early teens) and it damn near blew her mind.
— Elize Strydom (@elizestrydom) March 27, 2017
The professor says the defining thing about this micro group is how they experienced technology and got information about the world.
"We learned to consume media and came of age before there was Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat and all these things where you still watch the evening news or read the newspaper," he said.
Although, like me, Woodman grew up with an analogue childhood in Canberra and although we are both Xennials from the same place, he says we can't all be lumped together.
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"Internal to whatever these groups are, whether it’s Millennials or Xennials, there’s going to be people who have very very different experiences based on whether they’re a man or a woman, whether they had a lot of money or not much money as a kid," he said.
"Because there’s still people in the Millennial group who didn’t have a phone until they were older because they couldn’t afford it and I do remember that there was a couple of really rich kids when I was a later teen that had phones."
I remember the first mobiles too. They were bricks; big bulky phones for the rich to only call each other. Email meant a Hotmail account (which I still have).
My childhood feels so innocent now, with birthday cards in the mail, four TV channels and SBS without ads.
These generation labels, whether they ring true or not, are used by sociologists and demographers but Woodman warns they’re also sometimes a product of market researchers who want to define us and sell to us.
"It gets too simple sometimes and it treats everybody who lives under a certain set of conditions as if they’re exactly the same," he says.