They’ve been called lazy, entitled and not willing to pick up their share of the load. But they’re also confident and assertive, and care for the world! Say hello to the millennials, the most misunderstood bunch of people (a rather large bunch!) in the world today.
If you found yourself nodding your head vigorously at all the descriptors, chances are that you are a millennial. Provided you were born anywhere between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. That’s a rather large time period to consider; then again, it’s a rather large bunch of people to consider across the globe. It is the entire next generation!
Meaning: who are the millennials?
But let’s do these guys a favour, shall we? This impression that people have of them is just that, an impression. The truth is that this generation simply thinks and works differently from the generation that came before it, the Generation X. Yes, the irony isn’t lost on most: calling the previous generation the ‘Ex’ generation. Because the millennials show the promise to change the world and the rules that govern it, and they are changing it – one brunch at a time.
But first, a bit of history.
History: how did the term originate?
The term millennials isn’t all that new-fangled. Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe coined the term way back in 1987. This was when kids born in 1982 were entering preschool, and everyone around was talking about them being the high school graduating class of 2000, the first of the millennium.
Other names were tossed around too, Generation Y, or Gen Y, but nothing stuck as beautifully as millennials. They are sometimes also referred to as Echo Boomers, the offspring of the baby boomers. Psychologist Jean Twenge even went on to call them the ‘Generation Me’. No cookies for guessing why.
Generation We, Generation Next, Global Generation, The Net Generation and The Burnout Generation are some of the other not-so-flattering monikers that this group of individuals has got for itself. These snowflakes (as some are wont to call them) are considered to be entitled but they have time and again shown greater resilience than the middle-aged generation. How many 20-somethings have been seen screaming for the manager when their sale coupon expired a few days back? And of course they are bound to be miffed when they see someone drawing a 6-figure salary unable to comprehend how to rotate a PDF!
But yes, we still believe that they are a misunderstood and misjudged lot. They are not slackers (not all of them) and there is a lot that the earlier generation needs to learn from them too.
Present Day Scenario
Millennials are confident and tolerant, but we have to take that with a healthy dose of narcissism. They are the selfie generation after all, aren’t they? But come on, haven’t we seen enough older people stopping to smell the roses and taking selfies while doing so? But no one labeled them narcissistic, now, did they?
What is the truth? Surveys taken over various groups of millennials have in fact shown that this generation is less narcissistic than the earlier one; and that levels of narcissism are gradually going down. According to psychologist Jeffery Arnett, millennials ‘are exceptionally generous and show great promise to make the world a better place’. And we all know how badly we need that!
So where did the assumption come from?
Millennials have been known to make more personal improvement commitments than any generation before them. They spend twice as much as their parents did on self-care essentials, such as diets plans, workout regimes, therapy, life coaching, spas, and apps that can improve their well-being. That makes them self-obsessed? We think not. In fact, we all could do with a little more self-love, couldn’t we?
Further studies expand this glimmer of hope even more. Millennials are predicted to be the first generation in years to become more civic minded, with a strong sense of community, local as well as global. One just needs to cast around for the numerous innovations that are being built to cater to the grassroots of the world to believe in that prediction. They are the avocado-on-toast munching kids who espouse the values of going vegan and saving the polar bears, all in one breath.
The millennial in the workplace
It is in the worker millennials who are often sneered at by the earlier generation. Generation X prided itself on putting work first and laid strong emphasis on loyalty, steady career, work ethics and compensation. It simply cannot handle a new wave of workers that demands work-life balance and a preference for a flat corporate culture. These new kids on the block want meaningful work, a creative outlet and immediate feedback. As they continue to seek greater meaning in what they do, their career paths are dynamic and unpredictable. In the words of the earlier generation – inconsistent, unreliable, erratic and picky. But on the flip side, when they do find the one thing that they are passionate about, they will keep at it until it kills them. After all, YOLO!
Face it, though, being carefree and stress-free is something we all could benefit from. But as a passing jibe, here’s what someone quipped about the millennials on the unforgiving www – “There should be a millennial edition of the Monopoly game, where you just walk around the board paying rent, never being able to buy anything.”