Hybrid YZ: The Generation In-Between

There has been a lot of debate about when the Millennial generation ends and where Generation Z begins. People like me born between the years 1995-1999 feel isolated from both generations; either they feel like they don’t belong in either or they relate to both generations in different ways. People born between those years often feel stuck in limbo. Most researchers use the early 1980s to the mid-1990s and early 2000s as the birth years for Millennials. So, naturally, I always thought of myself as a member of the Millennial generation. Then, researchers came up with a new generation demographic: Generation Z.

There have been many theories on when the Gen Z birth years start but most researchers use the mid-1990s as the starting birth years. This leaves people between the years 1995-1999 in a hybrid of both generations.

I talked to many fellow 1995-1999 babies about where they think they belong. Most of them say they’re Millennials, some say Gen Z, and a good amount said we belong in a generation gap. Most of the people I asked about this topic said they’re Millennials because that’s what they’ve always been told,and what the media defines us as. But the question remains...are we truly Millennials?

We grew up at the tail end of what was left of 90s culture, but were right there at the beginning of the 2000s tech and innovation boom. We still hold on to 90s nostalgia and remember a time before iPhones and high speed internet. 9/11 is a distant memory but the ramifications are a mutually understood part of life. We remember a time before music streaming and economic collapse, but much of the pop culture at that time is too old for us.

Most of the people born in the Millennial birth years were children in the 90s and teenagers in the 2000s. They are people who grew up with Brandy, The Spice Girls, and Hanson as their idols. They remember exactly where they were on 9/11, while most of us were just toddlers when 9/11 occurred and are too young to remember to tragedy.

We were born into a world at the rise of technology, but we didn’t receive cell phones at the age of 5 like most members of Gen Z. We remember playing Mary Poppins and Barney on VHS tapes and watching them on are box TV sets. Our home video tapes were filmed with a RCA camcorder, not on iPhones. We remember using phone books, cord phones, and dial up from a very young age, but didn’t grow up using them. Before Netflix, we would take a weekly trip to our local Blockbuster and rent a movie with snacks at hand. 

We were born at the height of the transition of modern technology, not when it was fully established. We experienced the now retro technologies that the Millennials experienced in their teen years when we were very young, but grew into smartphones and Snapchat once they were launched. The digital age and social media are a big part of what makes this particular gap so significant, but it’s not all that we are.

At one point in time, we will be the last ones living who were born in the 1st millennium. That is so crazy once you see it that way. It’s truly a big deal. We’ll be able to say we lived in a world before America changed forever on 9/11. We aren’t “self-absorbed.” We are self-aware. We use text messages as our main source of communication, but often secretly prefer face to face conversation instead. We’re living our college years at a time of intense political turmoil, something that no other group of kids has experienced since the Baby Boomer generation.

We are a very interesting group of people who don’t really fit perfectly into either group. We identify with aspects of both Millennials and Generation Z, but don’t feel we can identify with either of them. This generation gap is unique because we are an army of curators and creators. We are 20th century babies growing up in a 21st century world. We are Hybrid YZ.