If you grew up playing Millsberry online with dial-up internet and immediately texted your crush when you got your first iPhone in high school, you may be a “zillennial.”
Millennials (or Generation Y) are adults born between 1981 and 1996, while Gen Zers are everyone born between 1997 and 2012.
But some young adults feel that those markers are too rigid, failing to fully align with the traits of just one generation, and instead identifying with both.
Thus the term zillennial was born.
“They’re on the cusp of Generation Z and millennials, hence the combined label of zillennial,” Deborah Carr, professor of sociology and director of the Center for Social Science Innovation at the University of California, recently told CNN. Boston.
“Being a Zillennial is strange because the spectrum is so wide,” marketing executive Melo Ruswa, born in 1996, told Glamor UK of the micro-generation born between 1992 and 1998.
“On one hand, I have friends who have kids, are married, and are at the top of the career ladder. On the other hand, there are people who agree with the fact that they are still figuring out what is best for them,” Ruswa continued. “So balancing both desires for children, marriage and a successful career, but also making sure that I live a life that aligns with my values can be tricky.”
There are certain shared life experiences that bring the generation together, including being alive during 9/11 but not old enough to remember where they really were when it happened.
More recently, most Zillennials can relate to one another through shared stories of graduating college or starting their first full-time job remotely.
One of the most obvious traits of the group is their unique relationship with technology: they grew along with the progression of technology and the devices experienced in all their iterations.
That specific micro-generation of young adults faced adolescence with dial-up Internet and wired landlines, but they quickly upgraded to high-speed Wi-Fi and iPhones, all before entering high school.
They remember watching “The Little Mermaid” on VHS before getting “Hannah Montana: The Movie” on DVD and listening to “The Wiggles” on cassette tape just a few years before downloading the Jonas Brothers onto their first-generation iPhone.
While they probably spent most of their childhood playing outside, their harrowing teenage years were spent glued to a screen.
Along with the coolest gadgets, the zillennials were born at just the right time to experience all forms of the internet.
They found out about MySpace from their older cousin, were the first to lie about their age to create a Facebook account, are still stuck on Instagram, and were a little late to the TikTok craze.
However, what really sets Zillennials apart from their older and younger friends is their spending power, according to PYMNTS, a financial services publication.
A steady income, a savings account that was built up during the COVID-19 pandemic, and limited spending combined to provide much of the demographic buying power.
While Zillennials don’t quite fit in with either Millennials or Generation Z, there are advantages to understanding both groups.
“At our research center, we’ve seen that cusps like Zillennials often end up having an advantage because it tends to make them more aware of the two generations before and after theirs,” Jason Dorsey, generations researcher and president of the Center for Generational Generation. Kinetics, he told CNN.
But understanding both generations has also pushed these cuspers to come together to distinguish themselves from “cheugy” millennials and “entitled” Gen Zers.
“Some generations reject the labels that others give them and some generations accept the name if they feel it fits them and their values or differences,” Dorsey added.
He noted that Zillennials have come together to renounce negative stereotypes of both millennials and Generation Z, while also embracing the best parts of both generations.
“I wouldn’t say that I necessarily feel negative about bringing the two groups together,” Beth Kirkbride, who was born in 1996, told Glamor UK. “It has been a blessing to be able to choose which group to belong to at various times and it helped me to fit in better.
“I would say I’m Millennial or Gen Z depending on which group is less embarrassed at any given time.”