Take a look around the internet, if you will, and see what a few writers have to say about my generation. It appears that we millennials are a fairly awful group. We’ve been called lazy, sedentary, narcissistic, entitled, and probably had a few more… um… choice terms lobbed at us in less public venues.
- Millennials: What to make of the biggest generation in American history?
Thankfully, some of us have gotten to a point in life where we can talk back. The pre-eminent example of this is Lena Dunham’s show Girls, but more and more of us are standing up to tell the world exactly how we see it. Like Patrick Dowd at the Huffington Post, we’re all ever more eager to offer another little bit of our own take on ourselves, and I’m no exception.
(full disclosure: I’m exactly not sure when this author, Patrick Dowd, was born, but given that his LinkedIn profile suggests he was interning in 2006 and the nature of his current business ventures, I’m including him in the millennial generation).
Of course, this post doesn’t exist solely to aggregate other people’s views on the subject. Part of my rationale for writing this morning is that there are things to be said that I think a lot of our generational cohort feel to some sort of degree, but I’ve never seen in written, video, or audio format anywhere, and an evaluation of these ideas will go a long way to helping explain what I want out of life, as well.
I’m going to take some time over the next few days to write and post a comprehensive set of posts about how my friends and I see the world and then go about explaining what exactly it is that we think we will maximize our happiness and potential in life.
I originally conceived of this post/series of posts as an explanation of the sort of things that I want to accomplish on my way to maximizing my potential in life, but yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend of mine and her mother. One of the most interesting things in the conversation was that they both talked about an article from TIME magazine on millennials as something that helped describe my situation in life.
“The Me Me Me Generation” by Joel Stein is a mostly complimentary look at some of the things that make us different from our parents’ generation (the Baby Boomers). I’m not sure exactly how generations are defined in countries other than the US, but from my own limited travel experience, I suspect that young people from across most of the world are more alike than any of them are like their parents.
I won’t link you to the article, because other than the first two paragraphs, it’s stuck behind a paywall. Of course, TIME pulled off a publicity masterstroke by making the cut right after a particularly scathing introduction that I suspect Joel Stein himself wrote mostly to put a hook in his readers. If you just read that first section, you’ll likely think he’s savaging us mercilessly, though if you have access to the full text, you’ll read a much fuller, more complimentary view of our generation. Google “Joel Stein millennials” to get a full picture of how many people were too cheap to pay the online subscription fee or (gasp!) pay $4.99US / $5.99CAN to pick up a print copy of the magazine to read the full story. Face, meet palm.
There are a few specific traits that I want to talk about that we millennials express in very different ways from our parents.
Our views on loyalty, morality, respect for authority, maturity, sense of self, and work ethic are all radically different from those of our generational forebears. Or rather, we have mostly the same conception of these ideas internally, but the way that other people perceive our output is that it is radically different from their own.
This is not an unimportant question, because this generation is the largest in American history. One of the other names for the generation is the “echo boomers”, because we are mostly the children of the Baby Boomers. Millennials number 92 million while the previous largest generation, the Boomers, weigh in at around 78-80 million.
From here on out, my next sections will be filled with a mix of information from other sources and my own personal feelings as I talk through the millennial views on all of these subjects. While I am a millennial, as are most of my friends, I’m under no delusions that I may secretly be the “voice of my generation”. I’ll just be offering one person’s take, albeit one that’s based in a lot of reflection and much reading on the subject.