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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.

Arsène Wenger. Credit: Getty
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My biggest regret of the Wenger era? How we, the fans, treated him at the end

Arsenal’s greatest coach deserved better treatment from the Club’s supporters. 

I have no coherent memories of Arsenal before Arsène Wenger, who will leave the Club at the end of the season. I am aware of the Club having a new manager, but my continuous memories of my team are of Wenger at the helm.

They were good years to remember: three league titles, seven FA Cups, the most of any single manager in English football. He leaves the Club as the most successful manager in its history.

I think one of the reasons why in recent years he has taken a pasting from Arsenal fans is that the world before him now seems unimaginable, and not just for those of us who can't really remember it. As he himself once said, it is hard to go back to sausages when you are used to caviar, and while the last few years cannot be seen as below par as far as the great sweep of Arsenal’s history goes, they were below par by the standards he himself had set. Not quite sausages, but not caviar either.

There was the period of financial restraint from 2005 onwards, in which the struggle to repay the cost of a new stadium meant missing out on top player. A team that combined promising young talent with the simply bang-average went nine years without a trophy. Those years had plenty of excitement: a 2-1 victory over Manchester United with late, late goals from Robin van Persie and Thierry Henry, a delicious 5-2 thumping of Tottenham Hotspur, and races for the Champions League that went to the last day. It was a time that seemed to hold the promise a second great age of Wenger once the debt was cleared. But instead of a return to the league triumphs of the past, Wenger’s second spree of trophy-winning was confined to the FA Cup. The club went from always being challenging for the league, to always finishing in the Champions League places, to struggling to finish in the top six. Again, nothing to be sniffed at, but short of his earlier triumphs.

If, as feels likely, Arsenal’s dire away form means the hunt for a Uefa Cup victory ends at Atletico Madrid, many will feel that Wenger missed a trick in not stepping down after his FA Cup triumph over Chelsea last year, in one of the most thrilling FA Cup Finals in years. (I particularly enjoyed this one as I watched it with my best man, a Chelsea fan.) 

No one could claim that this season was a good one, but the saddest thing for me was not the turgid performances away from home nor the limp exit from the FA Cup, nor even finishing below Tottenham again. It was hearing Arsenal fans, in the world-class stadium that Wenger built for us, booing and criticising him.

And I think, that, when we look back on Wenger’s transformation both of Arsenal and of English football in general, more than whether he should have called it a day a little earlier, we will wonder how Arsenal fans could have forgotten the achievements of a man who did so much for us.

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.