What it is like to be a Xennial

My 16-year old niece recently asked me how & when I saw my high-school boyfriend & how we communicated. It got me thinking about how way different things were in the 90’s…

Those good ol’ days

I still remember the boxes (!) full of hand written love letters. Yup, no WhatsApp. No social media. Whispering over the land line phone so that the family could not hear & desperately hoping that someone is not listening in on the other end. Having to introduce yourself to the parent when you phone your friend or boyfriends’ home & then ask if you can speak to so & so. Embarrassing, right?

If you are 16 years old today, then you can barely imagine a life pre-technology; before mobile phones & the Internet took over the world. Before Google became a verb. Before toddlers knew how to work tablets. Before ‘getting an uber’ was a thing.

I still remember watching the original Beverly Hills 90210 series in secret & in Afrikaans (you could get the English via your draadloos on Radio 2000). Dreaming of the day that we, too, could have a cordless phone like Brenda & Kelly. This was mid-90’s SABC TV. No DSTV, no Netflix, no ShowMax.

And those mix tapes on cassette tape. Most of the songs were taped from FM radio – possibly Radio 5 – by using very clever finger work to cut off the DJ banter. Needless to say, I also made numerous mix tapes for said high school sweetheart!

Remember the awesomeness of the Walkman? Well, until a Discman came along. And the feeling of owning your first ever CD-player & your own CDs. Unreal.

The era of telephone book.

When you had to finish your entire camera film, take it to the photo place, wait for hours to have it developed only to realise that half of the images are out of focus!

For school assignments, we had to wait for my dad to come home to take us to the library where we got all our info from the encyclopedias & other library books. We then had to make photo copies & then do a project at home with handwritten notes, real glue & real scissors. No googling, no printing.

Then there was our very first desktop computer – probably also around 1994? Printing of greeting cards with a grey-ish ink on a dot matrix printer. It was noisy & took ages, but man it was cool. I remember watching my brother sort of ‘hack into the landline’ & dial up to the Internet with our home desk top PC.

Post-2000 at University things didn’t look too much different. I can still recall having to go to the yellow lab (or was it the red lab?) on campus to access the Internet. Handing in assignments on stiffy disc. I can remember getting my first 128GB flash drive in my fourth year at varsity & thinking WOW, this is the business!

Ok ok, enough with the nostalgia & back to the point of this post which is on being a Xennial. My friend Lauren was actually the first to mention the word Xennial in a conversation a couple of months ago & I thought to myself “this is so spot on”.

So what is a Xennial?

Basically, it means that you grew up analog aka in the old world that was basically off-line; like I described above. Yet you had to adjust super quickly into a working world of smartphones, the Internet, Apps, the cloud. Xennials are a micro-generation born between 1977 & 1983. 

It means that you sort of ‘get’ Millenials who were born between 1982 & 2004, but you also understand Generation X’ers (born between 1965 & 1984).

So, how should do we navigate this Xennial thing?

I completely associate with being a Xennial. For me, it means that we have the best of all worlds. We’re experienced the good ol’ days, but at the same time we have the amazing experience of working online; seeing how the world is changing at the most insane pace.

The flip side is that we have the awesomeness of our smartphone-do-it-all-in-ones, yet we’ve lost some of the magic of the olden days. A lot of what our childhood memories were made of does not exist anymore.

And I can’t help but wonder what it means for my future career & the skills that I need to acquire.

I also think a lot about how all of this is impacting the way in which we’re bringing up our child. How do we, as Xennial moms & parents, navigate this new world? How do we give our kids a taste of the wholesome (off-line) childhoods that we had, whilst still exposing them to the right things & providing them with the appropriate skills for this ever-evolving world?

Over to you

I would love to hear from you: Are you a Xennial? Or from another generation? Do you remember the old days of living offline or do you prefer the new world we live in? Do you have any strategies for giving your kid(s) a wholesome childhood? Please leave a comment.

Are you wondering whether you’re a Millennial, then take this quick quiz. Or take this quiz rather see how much of a Xennial you really are. I love how it explains the Xennial childhood so perfectly!

Thank you so much for reading.

Yolandi ♥

Read more about this topic over here, here & here

Image credits: mix tape; Walkman; Beverly Hills cast via; old-fashioned phone.



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