An Ode to the Millennials

texting2The company I work for has a diversity program, offering classes about other cultures so that we have more empathy when dealing with customers and co-workers.  I enjoy the offerings because other cultures and ideas fascinate me.  The most recent one was presented by a group of Millennials.

Millennial:  noun; a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000.

Their first statement was that all of us older people treated them like youngsters who are green, wet behind the ears, inexperienced when they first joined the workforce.  We didn’t respect them.  We talked down to them and call them “kiddo”.  (Yes, they actually used that word.  I think I’ve only used it twice in my life and it was for someone my own age.  I’m not THAT old fashioned!)  I had to laugh to myself as I heard this indictment against my generation.  I wanted to tell them that every generation says that to the new kids, and the Millennials will say it to the generation that comes after them.  It’s just part of human nature.  They are wet behind the ears.  Four years of college prepares you for absolutely nothing in the work world.  You have to get some real life experience before people will respect you.

But after that, the meeting got interesting.  They talked about the world events that shaped them.  I hadn’t looked at that before.  I know what had shaped me.  Three assassinations, race riots, the Vietnam War, transistor radios and men walking on the moon.  My generation was shaped by accelerated change that shifted us sociologically and technologically.  That change has continued at a breakneck speed ever since.

These youngsters who are now in their 30s have seen the end of the Cold War and Communism, marked by the fall of the Berlin Wall.  They grew up with computers and the internet.  They are connected to the world in a way that previous generations never were.  They are more liberal because of that, the experts claim.  In America, they were a powerful force that sent the conservative Republican party out of the White House.  They faced a prolonged recession that made finding jobs difficult, and they are the most likely of us to desire meaningful work instead of higher paying work.

See Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change for more information.

I enjoyed their talk and wished it would have continued beyond the hour allotted to us.  They showed me a new of looking at all the generations.

Here’s an interesting test, How Millennial Are You, by the Pew Research Center.  I scored only one point away from being a Millennial, getting 72 out of 73, while the norm for my Baby Boomer age group was 11.  I guess that means I’m still thinking and feeling young at heart.  The test allows you to change your answers to see how it altered your score.  What kept me out of the Millennial range?  Texting.  If I had sent or received one text in the last week, I would have made it.

How young at heart are you?  What generation gap separates you from the world around you?  What events shaped your generation?

Hi.  I’m Chris.  I’m an introvert.  All of my postings tend to reflect my introvert world in some way or another.  Join me and like minded introverts for a special slant on the world.



19 thoughts on “An Ode to the Millennials

  1. Well, I think the test is geared to 72… the score I got, too! Mine might have been a higher score had I watched TV in the last 24 hours! 🙂

  2. Wow, I can’t imagine saying things like that to co-workers or anyone for that matter. Ironic that they stood before you asking for your respect in such a disrespectful manner. Maybe I’m reading too much into it tho, I haven’t had my coffee yet.

  3. Intriguing! I can certainly understand their disdain for my kind…slow, methodical, mistrustful of electronic storage. It is the same disdain I intend when one of my betters has screwed something up and I sum it up with my mantra: “greatest generation my ass!”

  4. I’ve had my students (millennials) write reports for their peers about how best to work for people from previous generations. I’m sure this helped them once they graduated.

  5. P.S. One challenge of teaching this generation is that they are (overall) narcissistic, demanding and entitled. However, those qualities are standard in their lives. For the most part they have NO idea this is what they are any more than we boomers appreciated the fact that we’d had more attention and better chances than any generation before us. Parents of millennials will often swoop down to make sure their little bird will get the special treatment they’re used to. This makes these kids dangerous to teach. I had a student and her mom blackmail me and my department this spring. It’s a common occurrence.

  6. Great post Chris. I know these people so well. I work with them (as clients) and they have a great sense of entitlement and different perspective of living in the community – the world owes me perspective!

  7. Fascinating post Chris, thank-you. Life is a paradox and ageism is rife at any age. Empathy, a passion for learning something new every day and most importantly of all, a great sense of humour are fundamental for transcending and seamlessly mending generation gaps. (And how irresistible are these silly quizzes? )

  8. Chris, a great post! I’m re-blogging for my friends. No time to take the test yet, but soon.
    I have to say that the Millenials I know are more conscious of the earth and humanity in general than most people I know. They are learning the old skills and trades and working to bring us back to sustainability. I think there are some ‘entitled’ people in every generation, but also many selfless ones, too.
    Thanks for this. ~ Linne

  9. I got 72 as well. I’m too young to be a Millennial, though. I have no idea what we are, but I turned 10 in 2000. I think I scored lower than my generation because I don’t use texts all that much, because I get no phone signal in the house.

  10. lol I got 69 and I’m 42…interesting quiz, tho not everyone in a particular group are going to be the same, that’s the beauty of the world 🙂

  11. Interesting, I’ve never thought of anothr generation as being a different culture. But I guess you have a point. I wouldn’t say that scoring near 73 makes you young at heart.

    A wonder for the world and all it has to offer makes a person young at heart, not giving in or giving up on life.

    Some of the Millennials like myelf actually never text, watch 1 hour tv tops per week, still don’t know how to use twitter, and have only recently discovered the world of blogging and facebook, prefer books over kindle and hardly ever listen to the radio.

    My Generation is probably definded by 9.11, Bush, School Shootings, and computers. That is if you define a generation of american youngsters by big political events and technology. But much much more defines me as a person.

    Nice post. Have a great day.

  12. I love this post, Chris. I’m a little bit astride generation X, I guess, and millennial. On the cusp. I’ve usually felt kind of out-of-time with my generation a bit, though. Some of my favorite music, for instance, is from the time of my birth or a little before. I don’t text, so I’m not millennial that way, though I might sometimes do it if my phone had that capability. My husband and I have talked before about the Berlin Wall falling in ’90, and it just didn’t have the impact on me that it did on him, and he’s only 3 years older. I didn’t grow up with the very end of the Cold War as he did. I would say the forces and events that have shaped me toward or away from things (many obviously individualistic) are: Columbine and gun violence, running/endurance sports culture, the Republican presidencies of the 1980s through 2000s, the Clinton White House as I was coming of age in being able to vote, horror writing (the genre that first ignited in me the desire to cobble words of my own together; thank you Dean R. Koontz & Stephen King!), climate change and ecological issues, the homelessness epidemic, the African famines, AIDS, Tiananmen Square, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, a dysfunctional early life, religion, parenthood, animals/pets and volunteer work, racism and my Southern heritage, and economics issues (haves and have-nots, etc). For those who might be interested, I read this piece on Gen-Xers recently ( Again, a very good discussion, Chris.

  13. I scored a 35 and I’m the same age as you. I think my 32 year son would probably score the same. No tattoos, piercings or divorced parents and very liberal for both of us. These factors seemed to weigh in heavily in determining ones final score.

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