When a member of an older generation asks me my opinion, there has been more than one occasion I have hear “As a millennial, what do you think about this? We need the insight from people like you?” People like me? You mean the expansive demographics of anyone born between 1982 and 1996? When did I lose the privilege of being asked for my opinion as “Erin”?
“Millennial.” Hearing the word is almost like nails on a chalkboard. Baby boomers and Gen-Xers that play roles as our proverbial elders will put us into boxes that we’re lazy, narcissistic, and simply unbearable. “Millennial” is simply the nail in the coffin.
I really didn’t realize I even had a “label” until right before I went to college (MIZ!). Like most college freshman, there was a required book reading that we were to discuss with our peers before we dove into lecture halls. That book was “Generation Me” a book about how my age group was more entitled, overly confident and incapable than any generation ever before in known history. Quite frankly, I think the book deserved a title more like “Generation You’re Seriously the Worst.” Even as seniors, my friends and I still had our sardonic jabs at this piece of literature that we made from time to time, ridiculing its naive pigeon-hole it gave us.
While Millennials are tech-savvy, social and more in debt than any other generation, they also are a variety of other labels including:
In March, the Washington Post reported, “Just 57 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 33 are non-Hispanic whites, four points lower than members of Generation X and 15 points lower than the Baby Boom generation.” This easily separates us from other generations from the get-go. While some Millennials may have grown up on the same street their whole life, there are others who are children of immigrant parents, and then those that are immigrants themselves. The forks in the cultural trail mean that not all paths lead to Rome, requiring marketers, businesses, and even potential bosses to recognize cultural nuances that may not even be directly connected to Millennials.
2. Not Interested in Your Partisan Politics
Family Ties displayed the generation gap of politics with Alex P. Keaton, the Reagan Republican opposite to the Hippie counterculture Keaton parents but you won’t find that today. Instead of rebelling against their parents, Millennials are politically fed-up. 62 percent of Millennials believe elected officials are motivated by their own selfish reasons and less than a quarter said they will definitely visit the polls in the November. This generation remembers a world pre-9/11 and has lived through two wars and a single greatest recession in history since then. While they may advocate for their own causes, don’t look to invite them to Young Republicans or Democrats meeting.
3. Not That Different from Baby Boomers
As post-recession college students and graduates, Millennials are incredibly conservative with their money, as reported by CNBC. Just like their Boomer counterparts who lived in a post-Depression world they always keep cash on hand and are more concerned about saving. This largely contrasts with Generation X, who believe that money is best managed through investing it. This point is less about money and more about how characteristics of generations can recycle. While we stand here being ostracized by generation-shaming phrases such as “overly confident” and “trophy kid”, it’s important to see that Millennials harbor a lot of the same values as their counterparts.
Millennials are an influential group but they are also a broad group, wanting to be segmented and recognized by their own individual qualities.