WTF does the word "millennial" even mean?
I remember the first time someone referred to me as a millennial. It was an indirect reference; in fact, I was engaged in a conversation with my boss — an editor — over a piece I wrote. She thought the tone was bit too young; in fact, she thought I was a bit too young.
Too young? Wait, what? I mean, I'm not one to shy away from an age-related compliment but this site was geared to Gen X-ers, and being an early 80s babe — I was born in 1984 — I identified myself as just that. But if I was too young, what was I? Who am I? To which generation do I belong?
I consulted the internet and yielded two answers: I'm a member of Generation X and I'm also a millennial. I walk a fine line between the two. I'm "too young" to be taken seriously in the former and "too old" to truly understand the latter. I stand squarely between the wizened mothers and working woman.
And ... wait, WTF is a millennial anyway?
Well, if I understand this correctly, millennials are liberal-minded individuals born between the early 80s and the early 00s who focus on civic and social issues (i.e. they tend to support same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana). They're an educated generation, a digital generation, and an irreligious generation. Thanks to the job market they tend to be flexible, and they're solid multi-taskers.
OK, I thought. This isn't so bad. I can get behind this. But then I kept reading.
Millennials are seen as inconsistent. They're referred to as the "Peter Pan" generation or "boomerang" generation because they tend to live at home and put off the idea of growing up.
They're associated with things like selfies and social media, and they're seen as self-absorbed and immoral. They're underemployed, overly-entitled, narcissistic little sh*ts — they're the "me generation." (Or so I've been told.)
The problem is, I'm not lazy. I'm not entitled. I'm not spoiled, rude, standoffish or even an asshole. (OK, I can be an asshole but in general I'm not. Really, I'm not.)
So please, don't call me a millennial if that's what the word means. But — and this is a huge but — I think the problem may not be with the word per se — or even with the generation. I think the problem lies in the way in which millennials are presented by the media.
You see, we're the "new kids" on the block. We're the ignorant babies — the "kids these days" that our parents and grandparents don't understand. We think we aren't (hell, at 31 I certainly feel I'm not), but thanks to the age range inherent to this generation (18 to 34) millennials engage in behaviors ranging from car bombs and keg stands to bridal and baby showers.
Do I fault the younger millennials? No, I can't. Why? Because I did the same stupid sh*t when I was their age. And so did Gen Xer's at 18. And so did Baby Boomers.
So, are all of these traits really associated with millennials? Maybe, maybe not.
Consider this: Maybe these self-indulgent traits are more associated with youth than with a generation. Isn't it probable that these characteristics are more indicative of an age (say 18 to 25) than of an entire burgeoning culture?
Well, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, "Some of these differences may be related more to age and life stage than to the unique characteristics of today's generations."
That said, I still don't want to be called a f*cking millenial. I grew up handwriting my English papers, I listened to my music on cassette tapes through my portable Sony Walkman, and I didn't own a computer until college. I'm also pragmatic and a bit pessimistic. In short, I relate more to those rough, tough and cynical Gen Xer's than any obnoxiously optimistic, "me-centric" millennial.
So unless the perception of and connotation associated with the word millennials changes, don't tell me I have more in common with Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus than I do with Tina Fey, Kerry Washington, or Angelina-f*cking-Jolie.