EDITORIAL: The myth of the millennial


The concept of generations has been around since the beginning of time and has never accurately reflected those they supposedly describe. The latest addition to this line-up is the millennial generation.

“Millennial” commonly refers to those born after 1980 and before 2004, according to The Atlantic. Since the generation after millennial isn’t named, those born after 2004 are still commonly grouped in.

The gap between 1980 and now is considerably large. The idea that those born in the gap can be grouped together with the adjectives of “lazy,” “self-centered” or “entitled” is completely arbitrary and not scientifically based.

In fact, “millennial” is only one of many terms that have used to describe the generation. There’s also been Generation Y, Echo Boomers and the Net Generation. 

Historically, older generations have always looked down on the younger generations. Greek economist Hesiod used generations to talk about the history of Greece. He said, “They only care about frivolous things. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discrete and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly … impatient of restraint.”

More recently, in 1990 Time magazine put out the article “twentysomething” about Generation X. The cover said, “Laid back, late blooming or just lost? Overshadowed by the baby boomers, America’s next generation has a hard act to follow.”

Then in 2013, Time magazine put out an article on millennials called “The me me me generation” with a cover that said “Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.” 

The point is, over the years people have said the same thing about generation after generation. It doesn’t hold up. People use insulting stereotypes to embody what they dislike about the generation in question. 

Michael Phelps, a millennial, holds the world record for most gold metals, and Mark Zuckerberg — the millennial founder of Facebook — is number five on Forbes’ list of billionaires.

That’s not being lazy or entitled. That’s hard work.

According to the Pew Research Center, millennials top three priorities are being a good parent, having a successful marriage and helping others in need. 

That’s not being narcissistic, but rather worrying about the impact you’re making on society.

So if these adjectives can’t be used to accurately describe people ranging from age 37 to newborns, what can?

Diversity of people.

According to the Pew Research Center, millennials are the most racially diverse group in American history with 43 percent identifying as non-white. According to GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), millennials are most than twice as likely to identify as LGBT than baby boomers and twice as many identify as transgender than recorded in Generation X.

Any statement made about millennials besides how diverse the group is will automatically be inaccurate.

When it boils down to it, we’re all just people who want to be treated like people. Take away this idea of generations and look instead at the one thing everyone can agree on regardless of generation. We’re people. That’s what needs to be known.