Illustration by Leo Walton
Are you into Blockbuster, PS2 and VHS tapes or is Netflix, Snapchat and VR more your thing? It all brings to mind a very common debate: should babies born in the late 90s and early 2000s be considered Millennials, or Generation Z?
It’s important to establish what a Millennial (aka Gen Y) and Gen Z person actually is as there is often some confusion around the terms. Generally, most people say Millennials are born between the 1980s through to the early 2000s and Gen Z is those born around mid-1990s to mid-2000s. I’d like to focus on those born between 1997 through to 2001 for the purpose of this piece as they’re really on the cusp. People born in this grey area can often relate to the characteristics of both Millennial and Gen Z people. Using my childhood as an example: I can remember the first iPods, YouTube with the star rating system and using LimeWire to fill said iPod. I also remember game nights on the PS3, playing the beta versions of Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and Black Ops 2 was the latest and greatest game around.
If those gave you a few flashbacks, then you may err more toward Millennial than Gen Z. 2000s culture really is such a fun topic to discuss because it made such an impact on both generations. This generation experienced some major transitions out of the 90s and beginning of the 2000s. We saw companies switch from CRT to LCD TVs, Blue Ray and DVDs replace VHS and Nokia bricks killed car phones. Don’t get me started on the advancement of the internet which obviously revolutionised everything. The early 2000s bring me right back to Soulja Boy blowing up my boom-box.
What I’m really trying to get at is that even though some of us are on the younger side, we still know the struggle of accidently pulling the film out of a cassette tape and using a pencil to save it. Not to mention mucking around with Beyblades and Yu-Gi-Oh! Even though it wasn’t a super fancy time, it was a real period of transition.
Now, if YouTube with the like/dislike system hits closer to home, then you might be closer to Gen Y. If you think about it - just because you didn’t build the base doesn’t mean you didn’t contribute to the foundations. This generation is excellent at making sequels and refining things that were sub-par. Don’t get me wrong, there are some things that bombed badly. The Last Airbender movie comes to mind, but I’ll save that rant for later. Still not having hit 20 yet, I could argue that I grew up in the Gen Y era. Most people from Gen Z owned the iPod Touch not the iPod Nano or played the PS3, not the PS2. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing.
My generation gets a bad rap sometimes. I like to think it’s because we’re a little different. British-American author Simon Sinek basically sums up the stereotypes, “Apparently, millennials as a group of people, which are those born from approximately 1984 and after, are tough to manage. They are accused of being entitled and narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused and lazy - but entitled is the big one.” Millennials get a bad rap because of mentalities that you build an empire in moments, through things like passive income and using social media to be affiliate marketers. In the nicest possible way, I think Slytherin house from Harry Potter sums this generation up rather well: cunning, resilient and resourceful.
All in all, remember to not get too hung up on these labels, but that’s easier said than done.