Bringing back the buzzword concept (words that people are tired of hearing/ overused). The term “Millennials” is used to define the generation that was born close to or during the New Millennial – wow, a very non-complicated explanation. Because this is a fairly recent generation, nobody has clearly defined the lines for the start and finish. Some people say 1980’s – 2000, some say 1980- 2005, and some say 1980 – 1995. As a twenty-year-old (born 1996) sometimes I am classified as a Millennial, and sometimes I am not. Throughout this entire post, I am going to count how many times I use the word Millennial and tell you the total at the end. I too will have probably overused it. This Generation is also referred to as Generation Y. So let’s try and use that more than the “M” word.
Calling it the “M” word makes it seem like it is a bad word and should not be used. But it’s not, there are just so many negative stereotypes and connotations with it that sometimes when talking about Gen-Y people can get very heated. I am not sure why this seems like something a psychologist would have an answer too.
The purpose of this blog today is to talk about Millennials and maybe clear up some of the negativity that surrounds them. Here are some of the things I’ve read or seen or heard about Millennials, and why they are or are not 100% correct. Because Gen-Y is so new and lines are blurred, any statics or facts I provide are from sources other than myself and may not be hard evidence just yet.
“Millennials are addicted to their phones and can’t stay away from them” – adults in my life
Speaking for myself, I’ve lived in Spain for four months, and I have no desire or need to buy a SIM card for my phone. I can only use my phone for texting, talking, internet use when I a Wi-Fi-zone, or if I decide to turn data roaming on. But to me getting charged to use the internet in a foreign country when I can just wait 10 minutes for Wi-Fi is a little pointless. I’d rather save my money for food, or travel or gas. Granted I still bring my phone everywhere with me, for picture taking sake, but does it count if I’m not using it?
“Technology has always been a part of their everyday lives – it’s been estimated that they check their phones 43 times daily” (Investopedia).
“41 percent of Millennials have no landline at home and rely on their cell phones for communication” (Inc.com).
“Millennials are better at unplugging from their Gen X counterparts. Nearly Millennials are 49 percent more willing to digitally “detox” while on vacation than their Gen X counterparts” (Social Media Week).
My experience and these facts are different but they tell us one thing, everything is still up in the air, and nothing can truly be argued just yet. Generalisations can hurt and destroy reputations, something to think about. A lot of my friends and acquaintances are looking into becoming digitally unplugged, deleting Facebook, twitter, Instagram, going back to not using smart phones, are we as addicted as you think?
“Millennials are more focused on themselves and self-centered ” – a high school teacher
My entire life, I have been raised to always give back and care for others. My immediate family every Christmas would buy Christmas for a family that couldn’t afford to in my town, we would get them food, something they needed, and each kid’s most wanted present. One year, I gave away my keyboard to a student at my old public school because she really wanted to learn to play piano, but her mother couldn’t afford the lessons or the piano to practice at home, she got her keyboard and the music teacher agreed to teach for free. Christmas, growing up for me was also instead of present focused, my aunt would have me pick on present to send to a 3rd world country. It could be a chicken, a goat or another animal to help them survive. Now, on my own I continue to try and give back to people in my community.
“One of the characteristics of millennials… is that they are primed to do well by doing good. Almost 70% say that giving back and being civically engaged are their highest priorities” (The Guardian).
“A recent survey found that 84 percent of millennials make annual charitable donations and 70 percent volunteer their time and talents to the causes they care most about” (Social Media Week).
“A large-scale study of more than 20,000 millennials in 181 countries found that Millennials are more concerned about the ramifications of climate change than they are about any other issue” (Social Media Week).
Do we really not give back, or do we just not boast about it? Do we give back in ways that maybe aren’t noticeable? Maybe it is due to the fact that “75% of millennials would like to travel abroad” (Millennial Marketing) we go abroad to volunteer our time, rather than donate money online. There are different ways to care for people. Maybe Millennials do it in a way that is different from Baby Boomers or Gen-Xers.
“Millennials are lazy” – a friend’s boss
Lazy is such a vague term. Do you mean lazy in terms of fitness? Because according to an article by The Guardian “Millennials are more focused on wellness. More exercise, eating right, and smoking less”. But if you mean in terms of work, maybe it is not laziness maybe we just work differently. With technology becoming a major influencer in all industries and the fast-paced environment it creates, maybe how we work is just better adapted to constant changes rather than set routines. Can millennials even afford to be lazy? Based on the rising number of student debts, if we are lazy how are we supposed to get out of debt? I work out 5 times a week, I work hard at my job for the satisfaction of hard work paying off, seeing things happen, it is truly rewarding when you see thing’s you’ve done on the job become recognized. And no, that is not me saying that I need recognition for every task I do “well”. I do not need a gold star for getting an A on a paper, or writing a blog post that got a lot of reads and retweets.
“36% of millennials see themselves as hardworking, and 24% see themselves as responsible” (The Guardian).
“The characterization of Generation Y as needy employees who crave constant positive feedback may not be far from the truth, however. Of those millennials who said they planned to leave their company in the next two years, 71% said it was because their” leadership skills were not being fully developed” (The Guardian).
“64% of Millennials would rather make $40,000/year at a job they love than $100,000/year at a job they think is boring” (Brookings.edu).
Maybe the future of work being more collaborative than competitive and more flexible than the set is changing the way we work. Maybe we aren’t lazy; maybe we are just adapting to the changing working conditions. Maybe we like feedback because we like to know where we stand, not to fulfil our esteem needs.
Only three example and I am already so frustrated with feeling like I have to prove myself to the world around me. Stereotypes suck. That’s that. And when everyone around keeps bringing them up don’t you think that it would start to impact you, maybe that’s why we are the “needy employees” or the “instant gratification generation”.
Are these problems with our generation because of how society is changed, or do how are parents raised us influence these stereotypes? All the negativity surrounding this generation, could it not have big impacts on the way we see ourselves. When people tell us over and over again that we are lazy, do we start to believe it? Is it a self- fulfilling prophecy? It seems that “millennials themselves hold a more negative view of their generation than Generation Xers, baby boomers” (The Guardian)
Millennials are different than the generations before them, but different is not bad. But there is one thing that is clear. Millennials is an overused word and we need to find a way to change that and change the stereotypes. Goal for 2017 find a new word for Millennials.
Millennial Word Count: 29 occurrences (not including the title)
If you want to see where I got my facts from or read more about Millennials here are the links.
Update: Recently Tiffany McAdams published an infographic regarding millennials on the website InvestmentZen. Here it is!