Millennials, Gen Y, Baby Boomlets, the Internet Generation – call us what you want, but for whatever reason we’re not having a bar of it. The millennial generation are resisting their own label and see their cohort in a more negative light than is called for. Our perceptions don’t match the facts, and in true ‘Gen Why’ fashion, we want to know what’s behind it.
The millennial generation describes the group of people between the ages of 18 and 34 – but, according to the Pew Research Centre, only 40% of people in this age group identify themselves as millennials, with another 33% considering themselves part of the generation before us, Gen X.
The PRC’s research also shows that the older the generation, the better the self-esteem. The Silent Generation (aged 80-87) see themselves in the most positive light, followed by the Baby Boomers and then Gen X. The millennial generation more readily ascribe negative qualities to their cohort than any other.
Quicker to describe ourselves as “wasteful,” “idealistic,” and “greedy” than other generations, 59% of us would also say the term “self-absorbed” suits us, compared to just 20% of Boomers. For all of you millennials out there who are buying the stories that we’re a bunch of entitled, self-absorbed freeloaders, it may be time to get your facts straight.
Let’s not forget, either, that being self-absorbed is a typical and long-running (albeit somewhat accurate) description of our age group, not our generation. I’m sure if we did a bit of searching we’d find that even the responsible Silent Generation was once described as selfish.
It’s true we’re putting off buying houses and delaying starting a family, but it’s not a case of us having our priorities mixed up. A 2010 study from the Pew Research Centre found that millennials’ top three priorities were being a good parent, having a good marriage, and helping others in need.
On the business side of things, only 36% of millennials, compared to 83% of Silents, would say that their cohort is hard-working. But, it’s been found that millennials are more likely to focus solely on their studies than to balance them with a job (which explains the lack of money). We’re also more educated and entrepreneurial, with the highest ratio of any generation to have completed a bachelor’s degree, and with 35% of us having started their own business on the side to supplement their income.
It’s also possible that we’re all just avoiding the labels not because we misjudge our peers, but because we’re worried that other generations are. They’re probably just jealous of our tolerant, tech-savvy, health-crazed, and wanderlusty generation, right? The Baby Boomers might have financial security, but we can type with our thumbs and take a damn good selfie. So let’s just call it even.