It is the year 2016, and soon the kids born in the year 2000 will all be legally able to drive. “Only true 90s kids will remember” memes will be slowly edged out by “only true 00s” or whatever those kids will be calling themselves. The Atlantic names Millennials as anyone born between 1980 and 2003, which apparently means our generation could potentially take the presidency next election. This would seem to confirm the worst fears of the Baby Boomers: that we will soon be prying away their jobs with our selfie sticks while posting pictures of our gluten free lunches on Instagram.
Today’s high school students are technically the last of the millennial generation. What does it mean that these students have only known a world which wages a war on terror and contains a few hundred episodes of South Park? Only time will tell. But if Millennials are coming of age and into the workplace, it’s time we looked at that designation, “Millennial,” and how it is used to define us.
On pewresearch.org, you can take a quiz called, “How Millennial Are You?” Which, based on my political views, media consumption and amount of body art claims me to be 95 percent millennial, even if I don’t have a selfie stick or Instagram. On a separate page on the same site, there is an article entitled “Most Millennials Resist the ‘Millennial’ Label.” Twitter-less as I am, I have had my own trouble identifying with the Millennial moniker. Yes, I did watch all of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None on Netflix in a single sitting, does that make me selfish and lazy? I have been told it does.
“The “Millennials” Are Coming,” a cbsnews.com report from way back in 2007 by 60 Minutes reporter Morey Safer starts out by saying: “A new breed of American worker is about to attack everything you hold sacred,” and goes on to describe us as “extraterrestrials” and “narcissistic praise hounds now taking over the office.” That stigma has only worsened since. One might think the Baby Boomer generation, blasted by their parents for their long hair and rock and roll music, would be less quick to criticize us for generational differences, but that is not the case.
Over at millenialmarketing.com, a site dedicated to helping businesses understand how to reach us extraterrestrial, Millennials, which are listed as making up nearly one-fourth of the U.S. consumer buying power, are more likely to buy from a company that supports a cause and create more original media content. According to Bentley University, half of Millennials are politically independent and are more open to gay and interracial marriage and The Atlantic reports that more than two thirds of millennials say that “gender no longer defines destiny or behavior as it once did.” Our economic and social clout is going to grow even more in the foreseeable future.
One thing I do know is that there are a lot of four-year-olds who are able to find the YouTube videos they want to watch on an iPad. Is that a bad thing? Either way, technological change is only going to move faster; isn’t it better if we are ahead of that curve rather than behind it? People see smartphones as walling us off from the rest of the world, but really they help us connect with it. I can’t tell you how many times I wish I had my iPhone growing up to show my parents that cracking your knuckles does not give you arthritis and there are some drinks that really don’t have caffeine.
We’re the most educated and diverse generation in U.S. history, and we make up one-fourth of the population. How is it then that we are all stigmatized the same way? The general feeling seems to be that our generation is defined by a poor work ethic, and is likely going to wreck the economy. Nevermind that it was the generation before us that oversaw the financial collapse that we grew up in. The American workplace, and a lot more, is about to change; what makes everyone so sure that it will be for the worse?
Taylor Owens is a senior majoring in English and creative writing. He enjoys gaming, sixties movies, and trying to dress like someone who reads Dostoevsky. He’d like to make some sort of a living out of writing novels.
Tags: September 2016