Hi. My name is Jess and I’m a Millennial.
This wasn’t the topic I’d originally planned for this week’s blog post. Having a full-time job and blogging on the side has made me plan out posts around a month in advance for my own sanity, but sometimes things happen that can’t be ignored and sometimes I become so passionate about a topic that it just can’t wait. That’s what happened with today’s post. Consider it an open letter to the world, or those old enough to know better. This post is all about the use of the label ‘millennial’, written by a millennial.
What are Millenials? Millennials definition
Let’s start with the basics, what are millennials, or more appropriately, who is classed as a millennial. At its most basic form, a millennial is someone who reached adulthood in the early 21st Century. Rather unhelpfully, there are no exact or distinct boundaries for classing different generations and it’s largely down to your own interpretation. Broadly, the term refers to those born between 1981 and 2001. This can be broken down further into generations with Generation Y referring to people born between 1981 and 1991, and Generation Z referring to those born between 1991 and 2001. Essentially the term is just a way to talk about demographics, just as ‘Baby Boomers’ is used to discuss those born between 1946 and 1964.
It’s not this term that causes problems though, it’s its use.
Are Millennials Useless?
A couple of weeks ago I was flicking through my Twitter feed on my morning commute when I saw a tweet appear about the breakfast TV show Good Morning Britain. The tweet was from the TV show’s own account and asked “Are Millenials Useless?”. Well, you can just imagine the responses.
On investigating further it was about a segment following a statistic of only 24% of millennials being able to fix clothing compared to 62% of parents. You can watch the panel here, discussing what this statistic meant about ‘millennials’ and if this was a reflection on the generation. I think I only got halfway before rolling my eyes and switching to something better.
Millennials Are Killing
While I was looking into the Good Morning Britain segment, I came across something else. Apparently, it’s a popular trend amongst media outlets to list the things millennials are killing. A meme of things that an age group is ruining, some of the things included are gyms, marmalade, napkins, doorbells, postcards, bar soap, marriage and the oil industry.
To be fair, I’ve never liked marmalade.
The use of ‘Millennial’
Now I’m not naive, I know the title of that Good Morning Britain segment was to provoke a reaction; the producers wanted people talking and controversy on social media is one way to do it. The same can be said for the ‘millennials are killing’ trend; it’s essential clickbait and constructed to gain readers.
What does worry me though is the negativity and frequent use of the term ‘millennial’. I did a quick search before I wrote this blog post and you can see the results above. I also ran a poll on my twitter and asked people if they term ‘millennial’ had ever been used positively or negatively against them. Whilst some people said it had been used both ways, it struck me that no one said it had been used purely positively. Why?
I’m not saying that statistics used in different articles are wrong, but I do think the use of such a generalised term should be with care. The reason I broke down the definition of ‘millennials’ at the start of this post was to point out that it combines two generational groups with an age gap of 20-25 years (depending on where you draw your line). By making generalisations about millennials, you are essentially saying that 17-year-olds and 37-year-olds act and think the same. You might find the odd person who has the same mentality throughout there life, but for the vast majority of people, there is a massive difference between those two ages.
It’s not just the generalisation though, it’s the negativity. I get that everyone makes assumptions and its human nature, but the negative aspects definitely feel more targeted towards the so-called ‘millennials’ than positives; you only have to look at my google search to see that. Sometimes it’s a blame game between different generations, other times its fear of change. Whatever the motive, the focus should be on finding solutions rather than blame, or adapting and developing that staying the same.
Every generation brings it’s good and bad and simply pointing it isn’t going to change a thing.
Because I want to end this blog post on a high, I want to know what you are most proud of about your generation. Let me know in the comments below!