The Millennial Generation: An Introduction

I’m a member of gen Y, the Millennial generation, the mosaic generation, the screenagers. There are many varying ideas of what ages Gen Y consists of, but I believe that it ranges from those born in 1982 up to those born in 2000. Those people now aged about 12-30. Here are a few facts about us.

  • The Millennial Generation is the one that famously scored lower on math and science than almost all developed countries yet when asked how they thought they’d done they ranked the highest in confidence.The following clip is from the documentary Waiting for Superman.

  • But, as a result we’re generally positive. Because we’re so stupidly confidant we often do things that were thought too difficult by others because we’re too stupid to know they’re impossible.
  • We’re also not resigned to the world ending soon, because we know that if it doesn’t we’re stuck with it after the other generations are gone. That’s why we want to be good stewards and recycle. We don’t want to be living in trash heaps in our retirement.
  • We’re high maintenance, but it’s not totally our fault – it’s the way we’ve been conditioned. Most of our parents were extremely affirming. In a science fair or archery tournament we didn’t have to achieve anything, yet we’d get a ribbon just for participating. We’d play video games and after 2-40 hours we’d save the world. We’re used to instant gratification and lots of positive feedback. We need affirmation.

  • But we’re also high productivity. Mellinials are highly perfectionistic, but also efficient with time. Daniel Pink, an expert in the field of human motivation, says that this is why, despite our age, gen Y is starting at higher power positions than that which many members of gen X are still working.
  • Entitled. In a survey that’s the number one word that’s used to describe us by our employers when we first got into the work force and it is incredibly true. It’s what I hate most about my generation.

    sorry Varuca Salt, you can’t have the whole world right now.

  • We’re suckers for social Justice. Talk about rescuing orphans from sex-trafficking or feeding the poor an you have our attention. As a group we largely believe (incorrectly) that we’re the first generation to care about the poor, the widows and orphans. We do want the world to be a better place and haven’t given up on it yet (as we believe our parents have.)
  • “Fassionate” Is the term used by Dr. Tim Elmore to describe mellinials. It reflects Gen Y’s desire to be fashionably compassionate – that’s why organizations like TOMS, Charity Water and Warby Parker are popular with mellinials. Because they’re good causes that also make you look good by participating in them. Superficial? Absolutely. Admirable? Somewhat. Hey at least we want to appear to care about others.

Woah. Check out the altruism on her.

  • We’re more family oriented than the past two generations. Every year US high school graduates take an exit survey that has an array of questions. On of the questions is “who is your hero?” We were the first generation to not select “a celebrity” as our most common answer, but rather we said that our parents are our heroes. I know I did.
  • We are generally restless and impatient. We need stimulus. This is often times improperly diagnosed as ADD. I call it having a hungry brain and a drive to act.
  • We’re good at processing large amounts of information. Because we were born in the information age. Information is like air to us. Consider this:

 In 1985, the year I was born, it was estimated that the world contained the equivalent of 2.64 billion gigabytes of information. That includes all print, audio and video media that was in either digital or analog form. In 2007 it was estimated that the world contained just short of 300 billion gigabytes of information. If you think that’s crazy, get this: in 2010 the amount of information in the world reached over 1 trillion gigabytes or over 1 zetabyte. What’s even more insane is that in 2011 alone we generated 1.8 zetabytes of information. That means we generated more information in 2011 than in the previous 3,000 years of human history, a rate that is only expected to increase as the years go by.

  • But often we don’t keep information we process we pass it on or we save it some place for when we want to sound smart later. We think in sound-bytes and text messages. We like edible little quotes, not long lectures.
  • We are ‘spiritual’ but not religious. Despite the fact that we are notoriously unchurched, only 23% actually consider themselves atheists. More than 50% pray before a meal an a third discuss spiritual issues regularly. Organized religion isn’t preferable, having become disillusioned with large institutions of any kind; the government, political parties, education, etc. This was famously outlined in this controversial video (with which I largely disagree) the best response to which can be found at this blog.

  • We came of age in the worst job market in recent memory. In a well-written article, Jesse Rosen responds to criticisms toward gen Y written in a New York Times article reminding the authors that we may not seem as adventurous only because we’re practical; we don’t have money and we aren’t going to go into debt. The subtext of the article is “go ahead, go to italy we’re going to be here at home trying to figure out how to save the world.”
  • We’re the most visually sophisticated generation to date. Far more than previous generations. We have access to more photos, video and artwork than any generation before us. In fifteen seconds I can have any popular painting or photo as the desktop of my Macbook.

thanks google!

  • The result is that we’re not easy to impress and that content has become king. 20 years ago someone with a TV station had a unique position of being the only one with a channel into people’s homes. Now anyone can create a youtube channel. This last year all major broadcast networks took a hit in ratings. Every major motion picture studio has released at least one “guaranteed hit” that flopped miserably. The media that wins has nothing to do with the money it costs or the channel through which it came – it has to do with content. This goofy video took 1 night to shoot and will get more views by the end of next week than Disney’s John Carter did. It’s because this video is an original idea executed in a funny way and John Carter was weird and unrelatable.

  •  Some sociologists call us the boomerang generation, or the peter pan generation – they say that we’ve refused many rights of passages that other generations embraced as a result of not wanting to accept adulthood. Most notable is how the younger half (the ones in high school now) aren’t pining for their drivers licenses as they can interact with their friends digitally just as well. This was outlined by Shaputis Kathleen in her book, The Crowded Nest Syndrome.
  • Other sociologists call us that next “Greatest Generation.”  William Strauss and Neil Howe have written two books Millennials Rising and The Fourth Turning the latter of which identifies four cycles in which generations move, the last being the time of crisis from which a great generation rises.

So yeah.

I have no concluding grand thought save for this: don’t count us out – we’re worth your time and who knows, maybe God is going to use us to save the world.

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Posted on September 21, 2012 in Random Thoughts

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About the Author

William H. Adams does creative work for a church. He enjoys sandwiches, jet skis, legos, ultimate frisbee, and living life to the fullest. Will is most passionate about using creative media to tell the story of what God is doing in the lives of those who love Christ. He believes the purpose of his life to glorify God and encourage others.

Responses (3)

  1. Blake
    September 21, 2012 at 7:34 pm · Reply

    Great post will! Really interesting and well written. I also really like the website. How’s that for positive reinforcement :)

    • Will
      September 21, 2012 at 8:00 pm · Reply

      well if I’d taken a survey about how I did I would’ve guessed I passed, but thanks for affirming it.

    • Angeli
      February 17, 2016 at 10:57 pm · Reply

      They are all cooler than “Baby Boomers.” I hate that! But that’s beettr than “Generation W”At work we are hiring lots of people out of college and we are getting a little generational difference training. Some of my fellow old farts are dismissive of the Y’s.I’m trying to be nice to them since I figure I’ll be working for one of them one of these days.

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