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Apparently I am a xennial now – where will this end?

Do I even exist if I’m not part of an ill-defined category that enables advertisers to sell me things?

I woke this morning to find that I’d transformed, in my bed, into a “xennial”. What did I do to deserve this? I was so sure I was a millennial. I love narcissism, entitlement and earning less than previous generations.

“Well, actually If you read most of the definitions on Wikipedia...” I’ve found myself vehemently, aimlessly, arguing against claims that, since I’m headed into my mid-thirties, I am too old to make the cut. But according to some recent marketing think, I was wrong all along. It seems I’m a xennial – a newly discovered generation of people born in the decade between the last true Gen Xers and the first of the “pure” millennials.

The concept of the xennial has been around for a while – the term first appeared in a 2014 article by Sarah Stankorb and Jed Oelbaum, and it’s not the only label that’s been attached to the idea. Less likely, albeit US-centric suggestions have included Generation Catalano, named for Jared Leto’s regrettably career-launching role as Jordan Catalano in teen drama My So-Called Life, and the Oregon Trail Generation, because it consists of people the right age to have died of simulated dysentery in the American educational computer game Oregon Trail. (What the precise British equivalents should be is left as an exercise for readers of the right age to argue about: the “Granny’s Garden” generation? generation “Game On”? “The Other Grange Hill Theme” cohort?)

Some of my fellow xennials are overjoyed by their new status because it means they’re no longer lumped in with the boring old farts of Generation X nor the egotistical snowflake millennials. Being a xennial is great because no one’s been a xennial, or at least no one’s cared about anyone being a xennial, long enough to come up with anything particularly disparaging about us or share any TED talk-style wisdom about “The Xennial Problem” on LinkedIn.

Until such time as that happens, there’s ample space for the reborn xennial to identify every one of our banal experiences as important, so long as it was shared with enough people born in roughly the same ten-year period as us. And of course, engage with brands, who, according to a report from marketing firm J Walter Thompson, should already be working out which type of xennial I am – “Corporate Warrior”? “Holistic Healer”? I hope I am not a “New Adult Festivalgoer”, which sounds exhausting.

But just as I thought I finally had a handle on who I really am, the rug has been pulled out from under me again: it turns out I’m not a xennial after all. I was born in 1984, and most definitions of this new “micro-generation” include only those born between 1977 and 1983. So maybe I’m not quite a millennial, but I’m also not quite a xennial either. Who am I? Where do I belong? Do I even exist if I’m not part of an ill-defined category that enables advertisers to sell things to me in a marginally more efficient way?

There might be some hope for me yet, because xennial isn’t the only one of these “new micro-generations” – earlier this year PR firm Ketchum gave us the “GenZennial”, covering the crossover point between millennials and the up-and-coming Generation Z. I expect they love apps, memes, and maybe swiping?

So am I just part of an as yet undiscovered micro-micro-generation of people born in 1984? A mixennial? A xemillial? An Orwellial? Given the vast quantity of information online advertisers now collect on us, maybe this generational “fracturing” will continue, until we’re all left alone in our own one-person generations, intimately conversing with brands who know our moods, whims, and exactly how much time we spend on the toilet to eight decimal places.

Still, unless we’re going to start seeing headlines like “The 10 things all employers need to know about hiring Douglas Ian Smith from Croydon”, maybe in the future we’ll at least be spared some of the patronising thinkpieces. Until then: Orwellials are best and all you other generations can absolutely do one.

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Will the Brexit Cabinet talks end in a “three baskets” approach?

The joy of the three baskets idea is that everyone gets to tell themselves that it will be their basket that ends up the fullest. 

It's decision day in the Brexit talks. Again.

The Brexit inner Cabinet will meet to hammer out not its final position, but the shape of its negotiating position. The expected result: an agreement on an end state in which the United Kingdom agrees it will follow EU regulations as it were still a member, for example on aviation; will agree to follow EU objectives but go about them in its own way, for example on recycling, where the British government wants to do more on plastic and less on glass; and finally, in some areas, it will go its way completely, for instance on financial services. Or as it has come to be known in Whitehall, the "three baskets" approach.

For all the lengthy run-up, this bit isn't expected to be difficult: the joy of the three baskets idea is that everyone gets to tell themselves that it will be their basket that ends up the fullest. There are two difficulties: the first is that the EU27 won't play ball, and the second is that MPs will kick off when it emerges that their preferred basket is essentially empty.

The objections of the EU27 are perhaps somewhat overwritten. The demands of keeping the Irish border open, maintaining Europol and EU-wide defence operations means that in a large number of areas, a very close regulatory and political relationship is in everyone's interests. But everyone knows that in order for the Conservative government to actually sign the thing, there is going to have to be some divergence somewhere.

The bigger problem is what happens here at home when it turns out that the third basket - that is to say, full regulatory autonomy - is confined to fishing and the "industries of the future". The European Research Group may have a few more letters left to send yet.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.