Zillenial Tech: Technology at the intersection of Gen Z and the Millennial generation

Tilly Brogan
January 25, 2024

Zillennial: someone usually born between 1993 and 1998 who considers themselves too old for Gen Z, but too young for the Millennial generation. Zillennials make up a micro-generation of people currently in their mid-to-late twenties who don’t feel like they fit into either generational stereotype; we don’t know what it’s like to go to university and pay less than £9k, but our wardrobes are still filled with more skinny jeans than flares.

What I’ve termed The Zillennial Conundrum – many still don’t recognise this micro-generation and seem intent on shoving ‘97 me into Gen Z, despite tide pods not being part of my regular diet – is most easily explained by benchmarkers in technology. While Zillennials grew up with technology around them, we weren’t connected 24/7 to the internet. Yes, the majority of our teenage years were spent online, but we weren’t born with iPads at our fingertips like Gen Z. To put it simply, Zillennials remember a time when respite from the internet existed.  

Zillennials make up a micro-generation of people currently in their mid-to-late twenties who don’t feel like they fit into either generational stereotype.  

Take computers, for example. While we all might have laptops now, Zillennials grew up with one family computer at home. Thankfully, we didn’t have to go through the Millennial struggle of dial-up internet, but we still spent hours after school incessantly nudging our friends on MSN and having to log out of the family server so no one would know who we were sending brb 😉 <3333 to. We were the first ones to watch what are now classic videos on Youtube, like Charlie the Unicorn, and Fred, and our views helped influencers like Zoella grow cult-like status, and ultimately paid for the bricks of her lavish Brighton mansion and luxurious lifestyle her baby will soon be born into.

When we weren’t begging our parents to sign up for a Club Penguin membership so we could have access to more than just two puffles, we would spend our time looking for the perfect Bebo skin and seriously contemplating who to share our 3 daily luvs with. Before the days of Instagram stalking, finding out whether or not your crush had put you into their Top 8 was the only way to work out if they were actually interested in dating you.

Another prominent Zillennial technological benchmarker is the way we listened to music. Before the days of Spotify, Zillennials were guaranteed to get at least one £10 iTunes voucher from an estranged family member you hadn’t seen since you were two. And that one year mysterious aunt Tracey didn’t pull through, it was straight onto Mp3 converter to download Poker Face and Starstrukk by 3OH!3. We might not have had Walkmans, but we still burnt disks on the family computer. And when Apple first released iPods, we saw the Shuffle grow into a Nano, and then the Nano into a Touch – I don’t even want to think about the number of photos I’ve lost to my long-discarded iPod Touch.

If Millennials didn’t grow up with phones but Gen Z got their first iPhone as soon as they reached double figures, a Zillennial’s first mobile was a flip phone or slide up. Then, as we were taught about World War II in History class, the biggest battle in the school playground quickly became the LG Cookie vs Tocco Lite; both phones seemed like the absolute bizz to us and a chewed-up plastic stylus was the peak of true Zillennial childhood. But nothing came even close in comparison to the Blackberry. Only the school elite could get their hands on this elite handset, sharing their exclusive BBM pin with the boys in the year above and causing some of the most memorable sexting scandals to ever grace my mixed comprehensive.

But perhaps the biggest technological marker that illustrates the difference between Zillennials and the generations they are sandwiched between, is the way we used social media. Zillennials grew up at the start of the social media revolution, but we treated Facebook and Instagram like one giant scrapbook, not as a way to curate the perfect profile of what we wanted the world to see. After spending hours at the park drinking cheap cherryade we would go home and upload 147 blurry photos into a brand new Facebook album simply labelled ‘park timezz <33’; the majority of these pictures were cringey collages edited on PicMonkey where we made sure to adopt all the trendiest Zillennial poses: smiling with our tongues hanging out like labradors, posing with plastic 3D glasses with the lenses shoved out, and something I can only describe as gun fingers under our chins.

We treated Facebook and Instagram like one giant scrapbook, not as a way to curate the perfect profile of what we wanted the world to see.

When times were tough, Tumblr became Zillennials’ favourite choice of therapy. While Gen Z prides themselves on their ability to speak openly about mental health, we let our feelings out by obsessively reblogging gifsets of Effy from Skins, and black and white photos of Sky Ferreira. These were often frequented by one extremely explicit porn gif that would pop up on our homepage after the 30-year-old stranger we apparently talked out of overdosing last week randomly decided to reblog it; on the cusp of the social media revolution, the internet felt like one giant chatroom where people of all ages could anonymously share what had really been going on in their lives – both the good stuff, and the bad. It wasn’t until big brands like New Look and Topshop started to capitalise on the tumblr aesthetic and sell tie-dye prints and platform creeper shoes that the glamorisation of our anxiety-ridden Reddit thread caused most Zillennials to leave the platform after it officially entered the mainstream.

Some might call me pedantic for seeking a direct separation from Millennials and Gen Z. However, the rapid advancement in technology has changed the way we quantify generations; it’s technology that is now playing the hands of God in how our generation will be remembered and it’s likely micro-generations will soon replace the wider-span generational marker from before. Instead of viewing these generations as specific bands of time between set years, it’s easier to separate them by their shared experiences of the world – especially their relationship with tech. And as more corporations try to reach the younger generation through these digital platforms, it’s imperative that they recognise these generational intricacies. A catch-all marketing technique for “young people” isn’t specific enough anymore.

While there might only be a few years between us, micro-generations are proof that there are radical differences between passing generations; we’re stuck in the crack between pavement tiles, but we are still just as important in helping you take the next step.

Contact Us

Drop us a line and we'll be in touch today
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.