It feels these days that a personal online presence is a given. The Facebook data breach scandal that’s been all over the news these past few weeks made me think back to a get together I had with a friend at the beginning of the year. The chat, a few pints and possibly even a shot deep, got onto the topic of technology. My friend had a great turn of phrase describing our generational group – he called it ‘being born in the sweet spot’. Describing it further as we could assimilate reasonably well into this new technological age but also remember the days preceding.
How safe is your information?

I’ve pondered those words since and started looking up the generational demographics I’d heard of. Baby Boomers were born in the twenty years following World War Two, Generation X (as popularised by Douglas Coupland) from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies followed by Millennials (also known as Generation Y) and then from the mid-nineties there is Generation Z, or Centennials. While technically I could be described as part of the Millennial generation since I was born in the early eighties, it just doesn’t feel right. I don’t feel ‘young enough’. Simultaneously I am too young for Generation X, not that I need a generational label to fit under, but it does leave me feeling a little disenfranchised.

The pace at which progress has occurred, and life in general, has rapidly changed since the time of the Boomers birth, widening the gap between the groups significantly with each new generation. Technology specifically is scarily speeding ahead faster than we can catch up which I consider the main factor giving rise to the classifying of a new micro-generation born in the late seventies/early eighties named, Xennials.

In my head this would be the official term for my friend’s described ‘sweet spot’. I remember a childhood spent outside stimulated by imagination and play without pushing buttons (unless of course they were attached to our Fisher Price cash register. I loved that clunky thing). Television, while every house had one, only had three channels, the microwave was a very recent addition to the kitchen and fax machines were still a viable means of communication. Landlines were not specifically defined as such since mobile phones were definitely not a thing.

Squirrels on a cash register, the obvious decorative choice – photo courtesy of Provera250.us

The advent of the internet crept into our lives while I was in high school and only half my friends had a connection at home. Spending most of my free time on the phone as a teenager, I would sometimes call up a confidante and hear the dial up tone instead of rings since back then the modem would hijack the phone line. We also didn’t have text messaging so we’d have to make precise plans before going anywhere and be somewhat on time. Plus without Whatsapp, Skype or even email any long distance relationships were maintained by writing air letters.

Music was limited to whatever was in my parent’s vinyl collection, which luckily is still pretty amazing, and what I could tape off the radio. It’s hard enough for me to imagine life without broadband and a smart phone with our dependency on these connections for immediate access (and instant gratification) dominating our way of life. We Google everything. A Centennial, and probably a large chunk of Millennials, will never quite get heading to the library after school with a pocket full of coins and a highlighter ready to photocopy and mark up pages from an encyclopaedia since that was the only source of reference material for school projects.

I now find myself sounding like those I’d internally roll my eyes at when I was young when I was told ‘in our day…’. I’m definitely noticing that sense of being left behind a little which must feel a hundred times stranger for Baby Boomers and even Generation X folk. The age of selfies and Snap Chat seems so far removed from manually winding your recently untangled cassette tape with a pencil. It stretches the realm of my imagination to ponder what future generations may be defined by; hoverboards, space travel or even Mars colonisation?

Old (unreliable) friend
I do feel more comfortable within the Xennial demographic, it makes sense to my occasionally overwhelmed brain excited and equally staggered by the change occurring around me. For now at least it’s comforting that vinyl is back in a big way, but my fingers are crossed that hair scrunchies remain in the past where they belong.
No thanks, we’re all good here