This point has been thrown around so much that I probably don’t need to start with a re-hash, but I will anyway. Millennials, that is the generation of youth that has come of age around the turn of the millennium, are seen as lazy, entitled, narcissistic, and though the label isn’t always overtly there, the worst generation. (Side note on that: Tim Elmore, the authority on the topic that the author so readily cites has degrees in Religious Studies, Divinity, and Ministry. No Sociology, no Psychology, no Family Studies, so he’s as much of an expert and as citation-worthy as a potato. And granted, I don’t either, but I can at least refer you to people that do.) The topic has become the lazy go-to on slow news days for bitter middle aged journalists that see their kids coming up in a “better world” (note: HIGHLY subjective) than the one they endured. Even more obnoxious is that deep, nuanced articles tracking as broadly as possible the differences between Millennials and other generations are almost impossible to find. Usually they’re the same whining, subjective, un-scientific bullshit, and on the rare occasion they find someone with a psychology or sociology degree, they focus only on the negative. Let’s change that:
- College students scored 30% higher on tests measuring narcissism in 2006 than in 1979 (Psychologist Jean Twenge, SDSU)
- 53% more college students rated themselves as above average in writing in 2009 than in 1966 (UCLA)
- SAT scores decreased 4% from 1966 to 2009
- 39% of Millennial high school seniors said they didn’t want to work hard vs. 25% (LOL!) of Baby Boomers (SDSU)
- They have less company loyalty (average of two years with a company) compared to five for Gen X and seven for Boomers (Millennial Branding)
- 81% of college students in 2012 said being wealthy was very important to them, double the 1966 number (UCLA)
- Millennials save and invest more.
- 64% of Millennials took out student loans for college vs. 29% of Boomers (Wells Fargo)
- Early Millennials (1980-1984) will have ~$6,000 more in credit card debt than their parents (OSU)
- The Millennial generation is most in favor of marriage equality (70% for ages 19-29) compared to ages 30-49 (53%), ages 50-64 (46%), and ages 65+ (41%)
- Unemployment rate last year for ages 20-24? 13.2%. Overall unemployment rate? ~8%.
- Managers are three times as likely to hire a worker over 50 vs. someone aged 18-32 (Adecco)
- 16-34 year olds drove 23% fewer miles per capita in 2009 than in 2001 (Household Travel Survey), including a 16% decline among those with jobs
- 21-34 year olds bought 27% of new cars in 2011 compared to 38% in 1985 (CNW Research)
- 16-34 year olds logged 24% more miles on bikes and 40% more miles on public transit in 2009 than in 2001
- Millennials are more educated with 41% of 18-24 year olds enrolling in college in 2010 compared to 26% in 1980
Not Millennials’ Fault
- 42% of Millennial under-32 investors worth over $1 million inherited their funds vs. 28% for Boomers (Spectrem Group)
- Fewer millionaire millennials graduated college than previous generations’ millionaires
- Antidepressant use has increased by a factor of four since the 1980s (CDC)
- Diabetes rates among teenagers increased from 9% to 23% between 1999 and 2008 (CDC)
- 40% of 21-26 year olds live with their parents compared to less than 33% of Boomers (AARP)
But let’s move past pitting one generation against another statistically and ask ourselves if any generation comes without problems. (The answer is no.) Admitting that, I then have to wonder if the Millennials’ problems are worse than the problems of any other generation. Would you rather deal with entitled narcissism and laziness or the overt racism and homophobia of the so-called “Greatest Generation?” (And while those problems exist in other generations, they were official policy during that time period.) What percentage of this so-called “entitlement” is disenfranchised minority groups laying claim to things the majority has been depriving them of all along?
And the examples of Millennial failure are so goddamn stupid I’m surprised they even make it onto an editor’s desk. (Wait, no I’m not.) Millennials are absorbed in their phones? No fucking shit. Smart phones aren’t some magical portal of delusions and escapism, they’re communications devices, calenders, organizers, and research tools. Millennials don’t dress professionally? Who the fuck decides what that even means? Moreover, why isn’t it a fault of previous generations in this case that they’re valuing style over substance. Sorry your slacks are wrinkled and your haircut is stupid. Oh, you have gauges and tattoos, better toss your resume in the trash.
“Immediate access to data is at their fingertips” complains Elmore in the first article I linked. This is bad?!? I can learn an almost infinite number of thinks instantly. Movie mentions Khmer Rouge? Wiki that shit. Who’s that actor? Now I know. Can these things be misused? Of course, but don’t talk about them like they’re problems in and of themselves. I could go on, but to tackle every issue with that article would take way too much time and be a waste of time anyway. At the very least I can congratulate the author on (more or less) laying blame on the parents of this generation as much as on Millennials themselves. But let’s approach this topic with a greater appreciation for depth. Please?