I’m not one to label generations. Unless such a label accounts for the way both Emmanuel Macron, Leo Varadkar and, as it happens, I myself, manage to navigate both the old world and new technology. That’s why I take no issue with the term ‘xennial,’ introduced just in time for the silly season.
The silly season (known in many languages as ‘cucumber time,’) probably first attested in England in 1700, previously referred to the period during which tailors were off on holiday, if they could afford to, and cucumbers were in season.
Well, it isn’t just flat season for tailors now. Starting from next week, The Netherlands will remain in a vegetative state until the end of August. No matter your efforts, you will not manage to get even three colleagues to attend any of your meetings. The third party involved in your new post-summer project should have confirmed by now. In fact, everything you want to get a head start on in September, ought to be up and running by now. The past few weeks have been a stressful final sprint, but you are by no means the only one with the tong op ’t daarde knoopsgat (literally: “tongue on the third buttonhole,”) as they say in the Dutch province of Groningen.
Most of all, my heart goes out to the millennials, those born between the mid-eighties and the early nineties. They probably need their holidays the most. Free tabloid Metro is sounding the alarm bell: a picture of a sea with nothing but a hand sticking out of the water was captioned “Help, the millennial is drowning!” this week.
According to an online survey amongst roughly two thousand people aged between 18 and 34 years old, about 25% are suffering from occupational burnout. Sounds like a bit of a hyperbole, but I have little doubt that the millennial is tired. Very tired indeed.
Health and safety service ArboNed recently concluded that the peak in mental health issues is no longer in the domain of those between 35 and 44 years old, but rather in that of those aged between 25 and 34 years old. Stress has become the number one cause of absence for young employees. Increased labor market flexibility is also thought to be responsible for this. Surely the permanent pressure of keeping up a happy act on social media is not very helpful either. Thirty WhatsApp chats, twenty news channels, ten games, and five Tinder projects are more than anyone’s psyche can take.
It’s a different story for the xennials. Dan Woodman was the one to introduce the term two weeks ago. The Australian professor in sociology belongs to this micro-generation himself, having been born between 1977 and 1983, right between Gen X and the millennials. This half analogue, half digital ‘buffer generation’ was just in time to discover technology (either just finishing up secondary education, or beginning higher education), but is not addicted to it. Gen X may be technologically illiterate, but the xennial is coming up with some elegant solutions. The recently appointed political leaders of Ireland, France, Estonia and Ukraine all happen to be around 38 or 39 years old. As someone of similar age I conclude that this is no coincidence.
This article originally appeared on Studio Zeitgeist.