When a salesperson doesn’t use or purchase the item that they’re selling, it’s typically a red flag. After all, how believable can you be as a salesperson if
you can’t even personally vouch for the benefits of the product you’re schlepping?
I lead with this as it’s often how I see myself when it comes to social media and marketing. My profession often has me focused on leveraging the latest and greatest social trends: Facebook (circa late 2000s), Twitter (mid 2010s) and whatever the upcoming social gadget of the day might be (e.g. Snapchat, Periscope, Facebook live, etc.).
The problem is, with a few exceptions, I don’t find myself using these platforms. Yes I’ve had a Facebook account since the early days of the platform (I’m proud to say that I’m among the first million users!) and I’ve come to rely on social staples such as Instagram and LinkedIn for very functional reasons (photo sharing and professional networking, respectively). However, I’ve never tweeted, snapchatted or really ever live-streamed myself doing anything to anyone.
An outsider’s kneejerk reaction to this would likely relate to my not being part of “that generation.” After all, mobile phones weren’t even a standard fixture in our society until I was in college! However, a quick glance at my driver’s license verifies that I am technically a card-carrying member of the Millennial Generation – i.e. my DNA is supposed to be hard-wired to understand and consume the social phenomena that are so commonplace today. The fact that it’s not seems to be something of a paradox – but it’s not.
I see myself as falling within the thin slice of our society that can bridge the gap between the pre- and post-digital generations. Some have even come up with a descriptor for this unique demographic: Xennials. These are people like myself that have one foot in the old age and another in the new that can help to translate and moderate between these two influential social groups. According to a Business Insider article, Xennials “have both the cynicism of Gen Xers and the optimism of millennials.”
In giving this unique gap filling generation its own identity, my professional paradox begins to make sense. The “millennial” in me desires to understand and learn from social tools and trends, seeing their potential for business and personal enhancement. Alternatively, the “Gen Xer” in me sees the value of interpersonal relationships and minimizes the value of surface level gadgets that do nothing more than capture a brief moment in time or thought (in 140 characters or less).
Ultimately, I’m comfortable and confident standing in this divide – knowing that I can offer value to both generations in a world that is constantly evolving.