In case you live under a rock or use the internet like a boomer, you might’ve missed the fact that there’s a full-blown internet war going on between Gen Z and millennials that, for some reason, people can’t stop talking about (it’s us, we are those people).
Sure, the two distinct demographic groups probably don’t hate each other for real. In a story as old as time, it’s just younger people picking on older people — that is, until they turn old themselves. It’s not the first generation war and it won’t be the last. But it’s pretty freaking funny, with the stakes higher than the number of Harry Potter books millennials have in their library. Or the number of Tide pods ingested by the generation making fun of the millennials’ side parts, overuse of the laughing emoji, and their skinny jeans.
But as the world obsesses over the opinions of two very assertive generations, it tends to easily overlook those of us caught in the middle: the zillennials.
The micro-generation born between 1993 and 1998, is defined as zillennials by Urban Dictionary. Zillennials are described as “too young to relate to the core of millennials, but too old to relate to the core of Generation Z.” I am one of those twenty-somethings caught amid the intergenerational internet war, whose interests often overlap with the generations before and after us, even while we can’t quite fully identify with either of them. To put it simply, if Gen Z is an iPod and millennials are a Walkman, zillennials like me are the MP3 players caught in the middle of the evolutionary cycle. We are often torn between our allegiance to millennials or Gen Z, while also enjoying the perks of picking and choosing the traits of both generations based on what we personally relate to.
There’s a lot that’s been said about what fits the millennial or Gen Z vibe, and not enough about what the zillennial life is all about. We’re here to change that because we matter as much (or as little) as the hyped generations before and after us.
“It’s that sweet spot of being responsible like a millennial but also being relevant like Gen Z”
The thing about zillennials is that we relate to everything millennials and Gen Z do, but not as much as they do. I am a Harry Potter fan like the millennials, but I also care about climate change like Gen Z. I think peanut butter toast is better than avocado toast, which most millennials can’t live without. But I also like houseplants like your average millennial, mostly because they’re like dogs that I don’t need to take for a walk. I still use the laughing emoji, have a side part and wear skinny jeans, but it never stopped me from getting laid, so who cares if I’m being cheugy? *insert laughing emoji*
Ultimately, it’s like being caught between two fighting parents, with neither of the parents having a good reason for this fight. At the same time, it’s that sweet spot of being responsible like a millennial but also being relevant like Gen Z, which is pretty cool. — Idris Bakri, 24
“Nobody wants to listen to your opinions because older millennials think you’re too young while the younger generation thinks you’re too old and won’t take your advice”
Being a zillennial is like being the last person picked at a basketball game because everyone has chosen their people and you’re not good enough to squarely fit into any team. That often means nobody wants to listen to your opinions because older millennials think you’re too young and don’t remember what the 90s were like, while the younger generation thinks you’re too old and won’t take your advice. But at the same time, it’s also the best of both worlds, and you have your foot in both doors. You are clued in enough to understand both, which makes your thought process more well-rounded because you account for both perspectives.
I started working six years ago for a fashion magazine in the print industry, but within a year, made the shift to a digital magazine. I feel the transition from writing for a print audience to a digital one was not as hard for me as it was for some of my older millennial colleagues. I’m in the sweet spot where I can associate with both generations, even if neither will have me in their camp. - Anjan Sachar, 25
“Social media comes more naturally to me, even though I grew up with a flip phone like millennials”
I think zillennials are poisoned by irony. We love making fun of millennials and think they’re kinda cringe, but even though we do care about a lot of issues that Gen Z cares about, we often like to act like we’re too cool to care.
Millennials on social media have a very “look at what I’m showing you” presence, where they’ll go for a house party, take a group picture, tag all their friends, add the most direct captions, or put up boomerangs with the ugliest text on screen. But Gen Z’s social media is curated in a way that seems spontaneous. As a zillennial, I feel like social media comes more naturally to me, even though I grew up with a flip phone like millennials.
When it comes to Gen Z’s war on side parts and skinny jeans, I feel like it’s irrelevant. You have to wear what makes you feel good and confident, not what other people say you should. I’m more annoyed with millennials in this war because they’re literally fighting with 16-year-olds. —Yamini Nambimadom, 22
“I tend to agree more with Gen Z because millennials get so riled up, whereas Gen Z is pretty chilled out”
Zillennials are the in-between factor, like we’re playing the referees between Gen Z and Millennials. We have a lot of work ethic like millennials, but are also in that sweet spot where we still believe in following our dreams like Gen Z, who have a more positive outlook towards opportunities. I co-host a podcast, called Zillennial Canon, where I regularly speak about how social media became prevalent as we [zillennials] were coming of age. So even though my 17-year-old sister and I Snapchat the same way, her entire life has been defined by social media, whereas only half of mine has. In the Gen Z-millennial war, I tend to agree more with Gen Z because millennials get so riled up, whereas Gen Z is pretty chilled out. As a zillennial, my humour is so drenched in irony that it’s hard to use the laughing emoji, which is so overused unironically. I think our ironic and dark sense of humour comes from the generational trauma of having suffered through the worst of terrorist attacks, but also global crises like climate change.
I feel like while millennials were ready to die on the hill for problematic cultural icons like Eminem, Harry Potter or Friends, zillennials were the first to question them, and Gen Z has taken that whole discussion forward. - Adam Sirdoreus, 23
“I feel a lot of zillennial kids are really millennials just pretending to be Gen Z”
As zillennials, we’re the middle children of the internet. Since we’re the only ones who can truly compare what it’s like to live with and without the internet, we have this strange love-hate relationship with our WiFi connections. We can’t imagine a life without the internet anymore, but we also really want to limit its interference in our lives or even aspire to get away from it entirely. I relate more to millennial culture in terms of living with parents and rejecting adulthood, but I also have a lot of Gen Z in me, like caring about climate change and stanning K-pop. I would also add that the defining characteristic of zillennials is our visceral hatred for phone calls.
I feel like the millennial vs Gen Z internet war is a very white person thing. A lot of zillennial kids are really millennials just pretending to be Gen Z. I spent more than half my life being told I’m a millennial, until suddenly one day, I was told I’m actually Gen Z. And now I’m a zillennial?
But since we are talking about it, this imaginary war needs to end — we all just need to unite against the boomers. - Aashna Sharma, 24
“As a data scientist, I’ve realised that the war is more of a left vs. right ideology battle”
Being a zillennial is like always being on the fence. People older than me seem to struggle with getting information and are especially uncomfortable with YouTube tutorials. So in terms of how I use the internet, I can relate more to Gen Z. Then again, it took me a while to jump from Facebook to Instagram, which is a very millennial characteristic. I hate the centre parting, but that’s more because it reminds me of a Salman Khan meme. I’m more of a slim fit jeans kind of person, but it’s not like I’ve worn anything other than shorts in the last year. I use xD instead of the laughing emoji because I find the emoji too colourful.
As a data scientist, I spend a lot of time on the internet and I’ve realised that the war is more of a left vs. right ideology battle. Gen Z seems more left because most younger people are idealistic and generally more open to new ideas, whereas millennials seem to be more conservative because they care more about the in-group and loyalty to their lifestyle and culture. Of course, millennials are sometimes as left leaning as Gen Z, but you know what they say: leftists always fight the most with other leftists. - Rohan Mehta, 24