Millennial or Gen Z? Two 1995 Babies Debate the Better Generation
As a self-centered Millennial, Gen Z roasting my generation was an especially hard pill to swallow. I was born in 1993—the younger end of the 1981-1996 range, but still solidly a lover of house plants, Harry Potter, and, at one point, Hillary Clinton (all traits the predominantly Gen Z users of TikTok routinely ridicule millennials for sharing). But for my friend Hannah and my sister Julia, both born in 1995, the divide is much murkier.
Technically they’re Millennials. But nobody really agrees on when Gen Z actually starts. Places like the BBC and UPI say 1995, while the New York Times goes as late as 1997. The people born on the cusp have adopted their own term: Z-lennials. For Hannah and Julia, this means they have access to something other generations don’t: choice.
Despite being born in the same year, Hannah and Julia identify as totally opposite generations. While Hannah has settled firmly into being a Millennial, Julia says she decided her senior year of college that Gen Z was her true cohort. How can two people, born the exact same year growing up with access to the same technology and social media, wind up on opposite sides of such a key question?
I got them on a Zoom call to find out.
Why do you identify as Millennial and Gen Z, respectively?
Hannah: I identify as a Millennial because I'm self centered and I don't own a house. And I just feel like a little behind the current Gen Z tech and I don't feel like I am a part of that wave.
Julia: I identify as a Gen Z I think because I'm very close to ‘96. But also some of it is a constant desire to remain young and relevant. There was a conscious point in my life where I said, Actually I'm Gen Z.
What are the stereotypes of your respective generations?
Hannah: Millennials, we are young professionals. We are a part of the gig economy. We do freelance. We have a reputation of being very self centered, but are kind of pushing back against that cause we're like, Hey, we inherited this bad world.
Julia: I think Gen Z [thinks] less that we inherited the world the way it is, [and] more like I'm baby in the world as it is right now and you owe me more than this. Gen Zs have [had more] access to social media. Probably a lot of them have had smartphones their whole life. The only phones they've ever owned are smartphones.
What was your first social media profile?
Now how many social media profiles do you have?
Hannah: I have one profile that I post on regularly, which is Instagram. I have three that I scroll regularly, which is Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.
Julia: I have my personal Instagram. I have another Instagram account that I use separately, but that is not really related to or about me. I have a Finsta that I've not used in I think two years now. Then I have a Twitter, I have a TikTok, I've not deleted my Tumblr. I have a Facebook and I only check it because a disproportionate number of people I went to high school with married people who are over 60 and I check in on them there because that is where they post.
Hannah: I forgot about my cat's Instagram account.
At my request, you’ve both made TikToks for me. I’ve embedded them here.
When did you first download TikTok?
Hannah: I’m gonna say March.
Julia: I would have downloaded TikTok September or October of last year.
What is your favorite TikTok trend right now?
Hannah: I recently have gotten onto Messy TikTok and I'm really enjoying my time there. I'd say half the time the stories are fake and then I get mad, but sometimes they're real with screenshots and either way I'm having a blast.
Julia: I don’t know if my favorite TikTok trend is necessarily new, but it seems like people have a lot more time to spend on TikTok in quarantine and it’s evolved into this very funny cinematic universe of really creepy or odd distorted footage. It’ll be clips all at different playback speeds over ominous background music .... it’s like a 100 gecs vibe but TikTok.
What is your phone background right now?
Hannah: It's a painting that my best friend from high school did.
Julia: Mine is Jar Jar Binks wearing Margiela.
Hannah: What do those words mean?
Julia: And my lock screen is a cartoon of Ivanka [Trump] holding Goya.
What Safari tabs are open on your phone right now?
Hannah: “Shark Tank turns down deal because of ethical conflict,” “Among Us” ‘cause everyone's talking about that on TikTok, then a Forbes article (“How Basic Outfitters bounced back from rejection on Shark Tank”), and [the search] “All's well that ends well to end up with you Taylor Swift lyric,” because it was from a TikTok.
Julia: “Reclaimed vintage inspired mini dress from ASOS,” an unsubscribe link from something I subscribed to in high school, “Team Wang asymmetric utility vest,” and “Entireworld: the stuff you live in.”
What's the last app you downloaded?
Hannah: The nanny cam app to watch my cat while I was out of town.
How many unread emails do you have right now?
Hannah: 59. But that's not usual for me. I try to keep it at zero.
Julia: I have 30,000 unread emails.
What is an emoji you think should be added?
Hannah: I don't know. I guess I don't use emojis.
Julia: There should be a frowning angel.
What's your favorite Instagram story filter?
Hannah: I don't use them. I take a photo and I swipe through the presets.
Julia: Mine is the baby Bratz doll filter.
What's one thing you admire about the opposite generation?
Hannah: I really think Gen Z is leading the way in a lot of very progressive, leftist politics and I admire that, specifically climate justice.
Julia: A lot better music.