Millennials get a bad rep, and I’m ready to call bullshit.
Let’s start by defining the term “Millennial”. We are Generation Y, born between 1981 and 1997*, and today are between 21 and 38 years of age. Also known as “The 9/11 Generation”, we do not know a world without computers, academic pressure, and the constant fear of school shootings. We were raised by Baby Boomers and Generation X. Our parents were nurturing, omnipresent, and have told us over and over again that we are special. We feel like a generation, and we have great expectations for ourselves.*
So, why are millennials given a negative connotation? Why are we isolated and criticized? Why do I constantly feel the need to defend my generation?
Millennials are severely misunderstood. We are criticized for the environment we grew up in and we are blamed to the point where our own members don’t want to be associated with our name. We are classified as “the worst”. We are stupid, unmanageable, unconventional, and of course, entitled narcissists. Apparently, we suck.
Fact: The Baby Boomers are the first “Me Generation”* and all the generations after have simply followed suit. Millennials are also the “Green Generation” because we care more about the environment. We are invested in our health and the wellness of others. We have lower crime rates. We volunteer. We donate. We care about social issues. Millennials have been called “alpha-influencers”. We have been taught that we can and we will make a difference. “Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation and this year we will be the largest voting block.” This was tweeted by Rock the Vote in February of this year.
Yes, we like technology. The digital era is what we are used to. Older generations see this as laziness, because we have found shortcuts and alternatives to the long processes that they have become comfortable with. We see this as innovation and creativity. When someone asks, “Why?”, we ask, “Why not?”. Millennials are resourceful and inventive.
Fact: The Baby Boomers were the first generation who grew up with a television in their homes. This drastically reshaped the media and how news was delivered. Generation X grew up during the computer revolution, and Millennials had the smart phone. All of these advances of technology resulted in a change in how people can connect to the outside world. The world evolves, and so do we.
We grew up in a time of rapid change. We were taught at a very young age that the world is unsafe. Millennials were roughly between the ages of 4 and 20 on September 11th, 2001, and many of us do not know a world without terrorism. We were students who witnessed Virginia Tech, Columbine, and Sandy Hook on the news and had to walk our own school hallways the very next day. We are exposed and aware.
And maybe we aren’t as different as you think.
Fact: Millennials have been nicknamed “Echo Boomers” because of the likeness to their parent demographic. Baby Boomers were taught to cut coupons from their parents who witnessed the Great Depression, and Millennials care less about name brands and more about being thrifty. Both Baby Boomers and Millennials are known as being team-oriented. Baby Boomers embraced the ‘American Dream’ and Millennials have the highest number of entrepreneurs. Baby Boomers were the “rock and roll” generation and introduced Millennials to “save-the-world” type revolutions that are still happening today. There were more Baby Boomer mothers in the workplace than previous generations, leading Millennials to promote feminism, equal pay, and the women’s movement. Baby Boomers started the “free love” movement and Millennials promote tolerance, openness, and acceptance.*
There is so much that we can learn from each other.
We need to remember that older generations are the ones that created the new generations. We are all products of what we have have been exposed to and what we have learned. At the end of the day, we are all just trying to navigate our way though an ever-changing world.
So, let’s set the record straight.
Millennials are adventurous and ambitious. We are educated, motivated, and independent. We are diverse. We are confident and collaborative. We are conscious, aware, and open-minded. We are idealistic, innovative, and passionate.*
We are the future. And we are no better nor worse than anyone else.
Thanks for reading.
*Millennials: Born 1981-1997 (Sometimes listed as 1980-2000; the range of birth years for millennials may be updated as further demography studies about this generation are conducted, according to Pew Research). - CNN, 2017 *Defining Millennials and other generations, - The 6 Living Generations In America, marketingteacher.com *The Boomers are the first “Me Generation” and every generation after is also the “Me Generation", according to medium.com *Millennials are "alpha-infulencers", according to forbes.com *Rock the Vote tweet, https://twitter.com/RockTheVote/ status/959564406085554181 *Baby Boomer comparisons, inspired by Pew Research Center *16 Positive Qualities of Millennials, according to The Oddyssey Online