M illennial, n., sometimes adj., probably even v. occasionally: the generation roughly defined as those born between 1980 and 2000. Or between about 1980 and 1996. 1982 and 2000. 1982 and 2004. 1985 and 1998. 1985 and 2000. The late 1970s to the mid-1990s. Stop trying to define us!
Generation Y. Generation Why. Generation Vex. Generation Stress. Generation Frustration. The Lamest Generation. The Crash Generation. The Me Me Me Generation. Those lazy, spoiled brats plotting cataclysmic revenge from the depths of their baby- boomer parents’ basements against the society, and economy – that relegated them to their baby-boomer parents’ basements – where, I might add, the service is so weak they can barely send their daily fill of salacious Snapchats.
I made that last one up. Because, you know, I’m a millennial, so: creativity. YOLO.
By now, you probably know all about millennials — 2013 was a really big year for us, especially in the United States. We took so many actions! We had so many thoughts! We experienced so many feelings! It’s hard to know where to begin.
If you don’t believe me — and you probably shouldn’t, because millennials lie to get by — take a look:
I’m a millennial, and millennials’ most-loved brand is Google. Many of us apparently even admit to having Google Plus accounts. Right.
We also love Cormac McCarthy. And pizza. We’re “obsessed with Marie Antoinette.” You could maybe even call us “the Passion Generation.”
It’s not all gushy. We’ve fallen out of love with President Obama. We officially hate him. A lot of us don’t support Obamacare. Many of us say we’re probably not going to enroll through the government exchanges, even if we’re allowed.
We should probably talk about health insurance. But only while wearing plaid onesies and sipping hot chocolate. Did I say “insurance”? I meant “brosurance.” You need us to buy brosurance because we’re invincible. Unless you ask Tom Brokaw: He applauds our wariness. When you creep us out with that lifesize Uncle Sam puppet — yeah, then we’re definitely wary.
Only 32 percent of us think the United States is the greatest country in the world. We’re pessimistic about Washington (the government, not the state). But that may just be because the government is at war against us. How do we know? Because we’re not as politically disengaged as you might think.
At any rate, our dislike of Washington doesn’t prevent us from moving there. There we can find three millennials who are trying “to sell their peers on the District.” This is all good for Washington because “millennials make cities a better place to live — for everyone.”
What else? We love to hate the bad columns people write about us. Lena Dunham, our unofficial millennial spokesperson — no, no, actually, she’s not the voice of my generation. Girls gets our lives so totally wrong. Remember, we’re not all white and privileged!
We’re “cord nervers,” but Breaking Bad made us watch live TV. Some of us live in communes. Others knit with arms instead of needles. A bunch are attempting to be … witches?
We’re the most educated generation in U.S. history, and we don’t want careers in the business world. At the same time, many of us do value job security. We can’t find old-school mentors. We don’t see eye to eye with our managers. We like them, but they’re not so sure about us. We think we deserve promotions. We want to be the boss. Some of us should be making more phone calls at work. Some of us text or answer calls or carry pets to job interviews. Others bring parents to job interviews. No, like, into job interviews.
Did I say parents? I meant peer-ents. Their helicoptering has doomed us: We can’t think for ourselves. We’re still proud of Mom’s baking recipe.
We like our sandwich bread “fresh and fancy, and preferably foreign.” We don’t seem to actually make our own sandwiches. Olive Garden offered us tapas (the better to eat and text). Mariott and Ikea are making us European hotels. Warren Buffett wants to sell us real estate.
A ton of us post photos and videos on the Internet. (Pretty cutting edge, we know.) We use social media to research potential dates and catch up on (read: stalk) exes. But we aren’t oversharing on social media. We’re not so cool with the government messing around in our data. We think technology makes us less human. We view reputation as “a fluid concept.”
We give to charity. We innovate on trains across the country. We want to live lives defined by meaning; we want to go into careers “that make an enduring impact on others.” That’s all good, because we may not be wealthier than the generation that came before us. We’re wary of borrowing but also have trouble managing our debt. You may have heard we have a lot of student-loan debt.
We’re changing the rules of investing. More than other generations, we think more people can be inventors. More than half of us would like to start a business. We’re the least entrepreneurial generation. We “should stop complaining about unpaid internships and start demanding better opportunities.” We’re too broke to start our own farms.
We’re cheap. We want cash for Christmas, or gift cards. We start our holiday shopping before our parents do. We’re “turning away from materialistic Christmas.”
But trophies. We’ve got trophies. Lots and lots of trophies. You might as well not write about us if you’re not going to talk about our trophies. Maybe because we don’t buy as many houses or cars as our parents did. But we may buy a house with our significant other before we get married. A lot of us aren’t getting married.
We support gay rights, but we’re still split hard on abortion. We’re not religious. (Will we become nuns?) We’re “godless heathens.” You can try to woo us by putting church in a pub. OK, but how cool is Pope Francis?
Neil Howe, who apparently helped name us, told The New York Times that we’re risk-averse: “It’s declining alcohol use, declining drug use. I mean, declining sex.” Yay! But we’re “the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. wine market.” A lot of us want to legalize marijuana. And oh, do we love to hook up.
We’re “lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow.” We’re “earnest and optimistic.” We’re “not so much a lost generation as a generation in flux.” We’re more forgetful than old people. Some of us are apparently unhappy GYPSYs. We “got a raw deal” and need to “get over it.” “We suck and we’re sorry!”
There are 50 things we “have never heard of.” There are 50 things we know “that Gen-Xers don’t.” There are 12 ways we differ from boomers. There are 11 “dark trends” killing our dreams. There are 10 reasons why we’re screwed. Ten things we won’t tell you. Nine ways to “scare the socks off” of us. Nine “career lessons” we can offer. Eight ways to make us “care about your brand.” Seven things to consider when writing your next diatribe against us. Six high-paying jobs for us (walk, don’t run). Five reasons we’re “going to save the world (we hope).” Five tips about marketing to us (from one of us!). Five things to show we’re not just “slactivists.” Five reasons some of us are quitting Facebook. Four charts to confirm we’re “the Internet Generation.” Three things people are tired of hearing about our sex habits. Two ways to boost our retirement savings. And one gigantic group of millennials.
We’ve replaced hipsters “as the mainstream’s cultural punching bag of choice.” But we’re maybe “the last large birth grouping that will be easy to generalize about.”
And, well, we push back at media stereotypes.
What media stereotypes?
Zara Kessler is an assistant editor and producer for Bloomberg View.
© 2013, Bloomberg News