We have all heard discussions around Generation Z, millennials and baby boomers, but we hardly ever hear about Zillennials.
This generation refers to those that were born between 1993 and 1998 but find it hard to relate to millennials or Gen Zs.
According to the Urban Dictionary, Zillennials are defined as being ‘too young to relate to the core of millennials but too old to relate to the core of Generation Z. They were 2000’s kids and transitioned from teenagers to adults during the 2010’s.’
Millennials are defined as being born between 1981-1996 and Gen Zs are born from 1997 onward.
For Zillennials, putting song lyrics in your MSN name sounds familiar, while having mid-2000 bands such as Green Day, Fall out Boy and Black Eyed Peas on repeat was the norm.
However unlike true millennials, who also experienced all of these pop culture phenomena, Zillennials missed out on the early iterations of the mobile phone and are more closely linked with Gen Z when it comes to technology.
Their first phone was likely a flip or slide phone, before the Blackberry and BBM pins became a typical fixture in the day, while those in the Gen Z category have fond memories of brick phones with never-ending antennas.
They would have grown up with the internet at school and at home, just like Gen Z and unlike the majority of millennials. Zillennials would have also had access to social media at a younger age, which shaped and defined a generation.
Another key difference is that Zillennials, who more than likely possessed an MP3 player in comparison to a Gen Zer’s iPhone or Millennial’s CD player, grew up using the likes of Tumbler rather than TikTok or Instagram.
A Zillennial might have grown up playing with a Nintendo DS Lite or Bratz Dolls and watching TV shows like Hannah Montana, Pokemon and Kim Possible like the older Gen Zers.
Zillennials would also have experienced the popularity of Vloggers on YouTube – such as the likes of Zoella – before influencers stole the limelight on new social media platforms.
Some cultural commentators believe memories of 9/11 define the divide between Millennials, Zillenials and Gen Z.
The majority of millennials are able to remember 9/11 with some clarity, while Zillennials (now aged between 23 and 28) will only have vague memories of the tragedy. Gen Z children are too young to remember – or were not even born yet.
While millennials, typically defined as being born between 1981-1996, are old enough to fully recall the tragic events of the day and Gen Z – born from 1997 onward – are probably not alive, Zillennials are likely to have vague memories – with the incident taking place around the time they started school.
Writing for Glamour, Mollie Quirk perfectly explained the divide she feels between the two generations.
‘Next month I’ll be 24, I was born in 1997 and I’ve never known how to truly label myself,’ she penned. ‘I remember My Parents Are Aliens, Tamagotchis, Tammy Girl, Nintendo DS Lites, Jane Norman bags, scoobies, Woolworths and Dream Phone – but my friends who are a few years younger don’t.’
And it seems the term on social media has solved a lot of confusion for those who were born in that ‘micro generation.’
‘Have been thinking a lot about my generation lately and discovered the term #zillennial (is this new or have I been living under a rock?). I identify as one although I still feel too young for MySpace. Tumblr all the way,’ wrote one.
A second penned: ‘Today I listened to a podcast while on my way to work and somehow that made me feel old. Also Hannah Montana was 15 years ago tf #zillennial.’
Elsewhere, a third added: ‘My boyfriend just exposed me to this term and I’ve never felt more validated #zillenial.’
A further recalled: ‘The fact I vividly remember being put on my friend’s list on his journal to see who will get the cd next and I remember I had to beg my mom to help me burn it bc she didn’t want to buy me it see that’s how you know I’m a zillennial. I remember a time with no phones.’
The new generational term comes after the generation war between Millennials and Gen Zs on TikTok over wearing skinny jeans, rocking side parts, and using the laughing emoji.