Having been born in 1982, I’ve always felt like an in-betweener —generationally speaking. I’ve never been as disaffected as most Gen Xers1 I’ve known but I’ve never truly been able to identify as a Millennial. 2 I was always trying to come up with a true term to describe my generational identity and read several good ideas like “Oregon Trail Generation”. But when I read Sarah Stankorb and Jed Oelbaum’s piece describing our “Xennial” generation, it just made sense. I read this piece in 2014 when it first came out.
I was born in 1980. According to some sources, this makes me a Gen Xer. According to others, I’m a Millennial. That makes me what then, a Xennial? I take online quizzes, like Pew Research Center’s “How Millennial Are You?”, and land dead between Gen X and Millennial due to my personal habits, body piercings, and so many more reasons.
I guess this term has been spreading a lot lately though and there’s been some misapplication of credit to who exactly coined the term. For my part and from my experience, credit should go where it’s due, Sarah Stankorb and Jed Oelbaum. Particularly Stankorb. She recently posted a piece in Vogue Magazine to correct the misapplication of credit and I applaud her for this.
To his credit, Professor Woodman keeps insisting that he didn’t come up with Xennial, and graciously references the article Oelbaum and I wrote as the first instance he can find of the word—which Oelbaum also attributes to me—though no one seems to care. The news continues to spin on without me, or attribution, or fact-checking. (Woodman wrote me to say that he has experienced a “mortifying new media week.”) And admittedly, I am torn even bringing it up today. The Xennial thing has gone so rapidly viral that in just one week, it’s already deeply annoying. The energy it would take to reclaim it at this point hardly seems worth it. It was one story I wrote years ago, a notion that struck me as interesting at the time.
Too often people popularize an idea and then credit is given to that person, rather than where it is due. Some may see this as a petty correction, but I think it’s important we recognize when there is an error and then correct it. It’s not our place to question whether it’s appropriate to correct.