The world wasn’t a safe place between 1978 – 1983. We still let kids play outside till dark. We didn’t have GPS. There were no cell phones or websites. Kid’s born between those years grew up on Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, MTV and HBO. Our parents didn’t unite through Facebook groups, nor did they teach us about being “triggered” or “woke”. We had nearly no rules, and endless freedom to do whatever we wanted. Today, we talk to each other about how fucked up and funny things were when we were kids, but to our therapists, we just talk about how fucked up things were. We lived in a world built by The Silent Generation, stolen by the Boomers, sold by Gen X and survived to tell the tale. And now, like Obiwan Kenobi, we’re your only hope!
Computers. The Internet. Cell Phones. Social Media.
These 4 things caused the biggest shift in humanity…EVER. They’re the reason our kids have unhealthy interpersonal relationships and dopamine addictions. They’re what empowers another generation to spread false information (or hate). They’re the catalyst behind almost every change to the world in the last 20 years.
Our link to a world prior to computers, the Internet, mobile phones and social media is dwindling. Gen Z can only be bridged to the analog world by one micro generation. A small group of people who grew up in a world without computers, lived through the digital transformation of the 90’s and were thrust into the workforce alongside ‘boomers and Gen X’ers. Rejoice…Xennials are here to save the day. (We Hope…)
Boomers are characterised as being workaholics who relish long weeks and lots of overtime. They are more committed to their roles than any other generations due to their upbringing by people who lived through The Great Depression. They also spent most of their lives during a time when companies were healthy and the economy was strong. Pensions, overtime, great benefits and social security was there for the taking. Baby boomers are considered good team players, with 53 per cent of organizations saying they work well with others. This is due to their lack of technology in upbringing, they learned to lean on each other for information which makes them feel like a “pack”. It’s also why they band together and use social media…for good…and for bad…
There’s a lot of good that comes from Boomers…but this generation has a preference for structure and discipline, and are less inclined to welcome change. Boomers are also extremely competitive and selfish, so they need recognition and rewards to keep them motivated. Boomers are regarded as the least tech savvy of all generations, prohibiting their ability to keep up, and utilize tech for good. Their “pack” mentality and tech inexperience makes them the biggest offenders of misinformation.
This was the last generation raised by The Silent Generation. Career, work and money were engrained in their upbringing which makes Gen X one of the hardest working generations in the workforce today. These professionals are committed to juggling work with family time, and favor work-life balance in an organization. They also work hard despite the lack of Boomer benefits, and dwindling programs for pension or overtime. Gen X is considered to be the biggest revenue generators overall, living through the 80’s and everything surrounding bubbles, the dot-com boom, and the rise of day-traders. This generation grew up at the precipice of technology evolution, usually looking at things like Atari, Commodore, Nintendo and Sony with fond memories.
With good, comes bad. Gen X is constantly in competition with their slightly older siblings (being Boomers). Less than 40 per cent of Gen X are satisfied with the senior management in their organization. Boomers refuse to retire, and have such intense competitive natures, they have reduced the opportunities for Gen X to rise to power. This generation is less inclined to say something if they disagree with management than their successive generations. Gen X value being able to do things quickly and are less inclined to spend hours of overtime completing something perfectly. “Done is better than perfect” is their mantra.
Millenials / Gen Y
Of all generations currently in the workforce, Millennials are considered the most independent workers. Millennials are concerned with ethics and the social responsibility of the organization they work for, because they were raised during a time of intense change. The idealistic nature of their grandparents (The Silent Generation) and the recklessness of their parents or Aunts and Uncles (Gen X) gives them a unique vantage point on how the world was, is, and could have been. Millennials have grown up sourcing information, needing to create their own processes, rather than being told exactly what to do. They are the inventors of our time, and understand technology at a fundamental level. This is something no other generation fully grasps, and has put them in positions of power well earlier than Gen X, causing strife in the ranks of businesses around the world.
Due to their independent nature, Millennials are not as interested in teamwork as other generations. Millennials do not have as strong a work ethic either, with an average of 38.8 hours spent at work per week compared to previous generations who both average above 40. This generation is impatient when it comes to career growth – 49 per cent are likely to leave before two years if they feel their skills are not being developed.
Gen Z (The Real Hope)
Gen Z are just coming into the workforce now. This is where Xennial meets the real hope for our planet. Gen Z is the most tech competent of any generation, they are able to pick up new developments quicker than other employees. This generation is particularly ambitious, with two-thirds of Gen Z saying their goal in life is to make it to the top of their profession. Gen Z are natural entrepreneurs, with 72 per cent wanting to start their own business and hire people. Described as the ‘always on’ generation, Gen Z are relentless in their pursuits. They look to Xennials as their mentors.
Gen Z are regarded as more cynical than their predecessors, favoring a realistic outlook over the idealism of Millennials. Gen Z don’t know much about a time before social media and easily accessible tech. This can make them very reliant on technology to solve problems. They also weren’t exposed to earlier forms of technology which makes them less likely to understand the underpinning of some of the technology they rely on.
Xennials grew up alongside Millennials and Gen X, and have a lot of the same upbringing and nostalgia. This is potent, yet delicate. We suffer the same pain from the same old wounds. Yet we yearn for a time machine. It’s no coincidence Back to the Future is one of our favorite movies and big business is focused on the 80’s and 90’s resurgence. We dream of something that goes backwards, and forwards…that takes us to a place where we ache to go again. We think the way children think. Round and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we were loved. We want to feel safe and secure. This makes us sensitive, mature and wise.
Xennials know the world as it was prior to tech. We can survive in nature and remember true freedom. Freedom from cameras, trackers, instant communication and overbearing regulation. We also gleaned work ethics, and a balance between career and idealism. We respect independence, and are weakened by social media. We utilize tech in everything we do, sometimes making it a lifestyle verse application. Xennials are a small and unique group from a very narrow period of time. We dovetail with Gen Z in that we have what they have never experienced, but can connect through technology. We, unlike older folks, can relate to them.
Alone, Xennials aren’t the answer. We’re part Gen X, Part Millennial, and can mentor Gen Z into a world that is balanced by tech and humanity. If Gen Z were to learn and work together with Xennials, they could be the generation to save us from our oversensitive, hypocritical, hateful society. They have the makings of becoming one of the greatest generations in recent times. Xennials must sacrifice their position and bring Gen Z into their teams, and lives. At the same time, Gen Z must learn from Xennials and try to find a way back to a world before tech…they need to see that it’s not the beginning of the end, it’s the return to themselves…a return to innocence. Xennials are a way forward, into a world of promise long after we’re gone.
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