British PM Rishi Sunak’s ‘Xennial’ office: A look at micro-generations

Rishi Sunak, Britain's 42-year-old Prime Minister, is under scrutiny after appointing staff members of the same “Xennial” age group to No. 10 Downing Street. PHOTO: REUTERS

He is 42 and Britain’s youngest prime minister in more than 200 years.

Mr Rishi Sunak, who was born in 1980, has come under scrutiny after appointing staff members of the same “Xennial” age group to his No. 10 Downing Street office.

“Goodbye Gen X… The Xennials are running Britain now,” reported media outlet Politico in January.

In December, Mr Sunak appointed Mr James Forsyth, reportedly a friend from school, as his political secretary.

Secretary of State for the Cabinet Office Oliver Dowden and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case were both born in 1978.

This has caused chatter among political observers in Britain, who criticised Mr Sunak’s Downing Street operation as being in a generation of their own, with older voices thinning out.

The micro-generation known as Xennials refers to people born during the late 1970s and early 1980s – caught between the Generation X and the millennials.

According to the Pew Research Centre, a generation is defined as a group of people born within the same 15- to 20-year span.

Age cohorts – from baby boomers to Generation X and millennials to Generation Z – allow researchers to observe change over time and understand how different experiences in various life cycles shapes one’s worldview.

Such cohorts are:

  • Gen Z: 1997 to 2012
  • Millennials: 1981 to 1996
  • Gen X: 1965 to 1980
  • Baby boomers: 1946 to 1964
  • The silent generation: 1928 to 1945

But micro-generations fall in between the lines, including:

  • Zillennials: 1993 to 1999
  • Xennials: 1977 to 1983

Xennials were born before the digital times and were hit with the technology revolution when they could still adapt to it, University of Melbourne sociology professor Dan Woodman told USA Today.

A key trait of Xennials is that although they are digital natives, “it isn’t like being born into it, like younger millennials or Gen Z”, US journalist Sarah Stankorb told Politico.

Merriam Webster said in a tweet: “Are you a bit too young to remember Voltron, but just too old for Power Rangers? You might be a (an?) xennial.”

Meanwhile, Zillennials overlap with the tail end of the millennial generation and the beginning of Gen Z.

A Zillennial relates to a millennial over shared experiences like sending songs via Bluetooth on a Sony Ericsson phone, but not the craze over the Spice Girls, as Glamour Magazine puts it.

On the other hand, Gen Zers may tell a Zillennial that they are using emojis wrong.

Although being born into a crossover period can be confusing, there can be advantages, such as fitting in with various groups. For one thing, a Zillennial has memories of MSN Messenger – allowing them to connect with millennials – and is in tune with Gen Z fads like TikTok trends and dances.

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