To me 1979 will always be two very important things – a song by the Smashing Pumpkins, and the year I was born. This also means I was born on the verge of an important cultural shift; a generational cusp. The 80’s brought us Madonna, personal computers, new wave music and the fall of the Berlin Wall. As a child I would run around in ra-ra skirts and crimp my hair before culturally graduating from a Goonies kid in the 80’s to a grunge teen in the 90’s; moving awkwardly through phases laced with under-cuts, hypercolour and CK One. When the Noughties arrived my generation and I were ready for the world – armed with backpacks, Lonely Planet books, freedom, curiosity and the Internet. We were the first chicks to leave the roost on digital wings. But for a seemingly important cultural generation, we were actually a generation without a cultural identity.
I have always proudly stated that I am Gen X. Yet I’ll use ‘totes’ in the next sentence. My grandfather calls me ‘the oldest teenager in town’. But maybe that’s because when you grew up in my generation, you had to keep learning new things all the time and reinventing yourself just to keep up. I used to make reverse charge calls, mix-tapes and listen to Alanis. Yet these days I use hashtags, filters and post on Instagram.
Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?
If you were born outside of 1977 and 1983 you might not feel sad when you wander past the last video shop and see that it’s closing down. You probably didn’t cry when River died. You have no idea why anyone would want to put an empty chip packet in the oven, and you may not even enjoy this article. That’s because you don’t belong to what has just recently been labelled as a Micro-Generation. At last we have a home and I am delighted. After spending years with one foot firmly in ‘Camp Gen X’ and the other occasionally hanging out in ‘Camp Gen Y’ (Tip: they do good food there sometimes) I have always felt ‘generationally challenged’. But finally we belong.
We are Xennials.
We were the ones who were working full time and old enough to buy property in Australia when it was still a five figure sum yet many of us currently live in share houses. Because why on earth would you want to spend $98k on a unit in your twenties when the world is your oyster? (Side note: I am an exception to this having bought property and travelled in my twenties.)
Just like our parents, we watched video tapes and used dial phones yet we can can still operate any electronic device without the need for instructions and make online purchases while waiting for the kettle to boil. We can successfully navigate streets assisted by either a hard copy street directory or an electronic voice. We know that Snake was a great way to pass time – and that Candy Crush is a great way to waste time. We are the only ones that know that when mobile phones first came out you could only send texts to friends that were on the same network. Fact. But we couldn’t understand why anyone would text when you could just call someone.
We know the difference between JTT and Tay-Tay. We know that the Violent Femmes sung Gone Daddy Gone before Gnarls Barkly did. We know Kyle Maclachlan was Special Agent Dale Cooper before he was Trey MacDougal. We understand ‘lol’ in all contexts, but we were slow to adopt it – and even now we will still swear we only use it ironically. We know that ‘I Kissed a Girl’ was first sung by Jill Sobule and had nothing to do with cherry chapstick. And Molly was an actress…
We performed in the Rock Eisteddfod (and still wonder what ‘Eisteddfod’ means) and now ironically wear the hoodie that we kept with our team’s names on the back to Bikram yoga. We remember the frustration of not being able to balance on a Pool Pony yet reminisce about them dearly when floating, spritzer in hand, on giant (and far steadier) inflatable swans.
My typing style however, much to my younger friends’ amusement, consists of looking at the keyboard and typing mainly with my right hand. My left index finger only occasionally makes a special guest appearance – just like Heather Locklear in the opening credits of Melrose Place did for seven years. And we all still wonder why she wasn’t just called a ‘regular’ cast member. Why was she so ‘special’? (And while we’re in the neighbourhood, we all know the zipcode for Beverly Hills…)
Typing issues aside, we’ve come a long way since Family Ties and Growing Pains. Much like our poster boy Leonardo Di Caprio in finally winning an Oscar. I am proud to have an army of Xennials as friends who have flawlessly made the switch from an analogue age to a digital world. From days reading Smash Hits magazine and working shifts at Sanity and Brashs, to building websites, launching start-ups and inventing apps.
As Blink 182 once said, I guess this is growing up. We might not be cool anymore but as long as there’s an old Winona movie to watch on Netflix, we’ll always feel the world is as it should be. All that’s left for us to do now is dance to our favourite 80s and 90s classics, crack open a craft beer and drink to the future.
About the author: Rebecca lives in Melbourne, works in marketing, enjoys wine and coffee, travels often and has a photogenic cat with his own hashtag #princeernest