Sometimes in order to learn more about yourself, you have to understand your generation. No matter who you are as a person, you tend to have similar values, attitudes and worldviews of everyone else in your generation, because let's face it, you can't help the year you were born.
My parents, despite their different personalities, share a similar outlook on life because of their generation, the Baby Boomers. Drugs don't phase them--they've seen their share in the 60s and 70s, they have seen racial tensions explode and fade away, and they know the value of a dollar because they had to earn it.
And now, as a 26-year-old, I'm finally starting to understand my own generation: The Millennials. We were born between 1980 and 2000. We are the first generation to come of age in the new millennium.
There have been hundreds of studies and articles written about us in the past ten years. Some make me laugh. Some make me cringe. Some piss me off.
We seem to be ridiculed in the media as lazy, dependent, and unrealistic.
But before I get to that, here are some facts about the Millennial generation put together by Pew Research Center.
- They are the most ethnically and racially diverse cohort of youth in the nation's history. Among those ages 13 to 29: 18.5% are Hispanic; 14.2% are black; 4.3% are Asian; 3.2% are mixed race or other; and 59.8%, a record low, are white.
- They are starting out as the most politically progressive age group in modern history. In the 2008 election, Millennials voted for Barack Obama over John McCain by 66%-32%, while adults ages 30 and over split their votes 50%-49%. In the four decades since the development of Election Day exit polling, this is the largest gap ever seen in a presidential election between the votes of those under and over age 30.
- They are the first generation in human history who regard behaviors like tweeting and texting, along with websites like Facebook, YouTube, Google and Wikipedia, not as astonishing innovations of the digital era, but as everyday parts of their social lives and their search for understanding.
- They are the least religiously observant youths since survey research began charting religious behavior.
(This may be what Millennials look like in their natural habitat)
According to numerous psychologists, historians, and journalists, my generation is filled with ignorant tweens and 20-nothings. We were coddled as children and way too over-protected. Forget walking to school, our parents drove us or bought us cars at 16. Not many of us had after-school jobs (those don't get us into college). When it comes to sports, everyone was a winner! Most of us got our first cell phone in high school (some of the younger Millennials got them in elementary school). We text instead of call. We facebook instead of write letters. We have no idea why our parents feared Russia, because for us, the Middle East has been nothing but a war zone and terrorist hotbed our whole lives. We live at home until we're 30 because why not? When we move out, we prefer to live with our partners instead of marry them. Most of us won't keep the same job for more than ten years at a time.
No wonder the baby boomers and Generation X-ers despise us.
But what the older generations don't realize is that they are the reason we are who we are.
They didn't think it was safe for us to walk to school. They bought us a cell phone. They raised us.
And yes, we can be super annoying with our texting and our blogging and our digital music, but our generation has the potential to be one of the greatest in history.
We are an extremely socially conscious generation. How many other generations can brag that they grew up networking with people all over the world before they were 30? We are. We know what is going on all over the world as it happens. We accept other cultures without questions. Racism is becoming a thing of the past as the human race keeps merging into a beautiful multi-cultural and multi-racial rainbow. Every decade, we are becoming so medically and technologically advanced, our generation may very well have the ability to find a cure and prevention for cancers and other normally fatal diseases.
I think that's pretty damn cool.
So...what do you think of Millennials? Saving the world? Or ruining it?
PS. There are even workshops and guidelines for companies on how to deal with millennials in the workplace. Read this article, it's hilarious. My favorite excerpt: "Encourage the millennial's self-assuredness, 'can-do' attitude, and positive personal self-image. Millennials are ready to take on the world. Their parents told them they can do it - they can. Encourage - don't squash them or contain them." Enough said!