So as far as I know, I’m a Millennial. I come under the age bracket which ranges, roughly, from those born in mid-eighties, to just before the millennium and apparently, that means I’m essentially, a hippy, liberal, lazy, arseh*le.
Despite specifics ranging across regions, our fundamental traits stipulate, we understand and use technological and digital communication and media; while still remembering a time without it. We are educated, politically engaged (which is perceived as a good and bad thing), optimistic, achieving…we switch jobs throughout our careers, are confident, tolerant and want to legalise weed – but hate religion. We are also sheltered, narcissistic, entitled and can’t take criticism. Quite a jarring image, one which I think is best optimised in the reaction to the youth vote during Brexit and the General Election.
Oh, and by the way, our futures face high unemployment, thanks to previous generations mistakes, but, as we are continuously told, everything is our fault. Of course.
There are various labels for us here in the UK, as well as Australia and America, we are allotted the title of Millennial. More specifically in the UK, we are Generation Rent. In 1991, 67% of 25-34 year olds owned their homes; contrastingly, in 2011-2012, only 43% did.
Across the world our identifying name changes. In Sweden, we are dubbed the Curling Generation. Apparently, we’ve had all obstacles cleared by our parents; who overtly defend us, don’t criticise us and personally attend our job interviews. We have helicopter parents, hence we are completely knocked by little things, for example, simply being told off. I guess this would apply if you’re a white, upper-middle class, privately educated tadpole, whose mummy and daddy do everything for. They indeed symbolically wipe your arsehole.
Sidebar: I’ve been informed that the above sentence may appear offensive or a generalisation. Of course I’m only joking, I know that many middle class people work very hard to achieve the things they do without intervention by their parents, particularly wiping their rectums, the butler does that.
Another damning international phrase used is by the Chinese, here we are supposedly ‘the generation that eats the old’ or ‘little emperors’. Indeed, a survey by The Guardian, concluded that 70% of young people in China thought nothing of asking their parents to give money towards their house.
We seem to be at most odds with the generation entitled the Baby Boomers, they succeeded World War Two. They are likely to be the generation of our grandparents. Socially, our views are different – from race to sexuality to politics. There is also resentment from our generation. We don’t want to repeat their mistakes, ranging from hoarding of wealth and ruining the environment. And they hate us because we supposedly have an entitled sense of ourselves and are lazy.
And yet, we are similar, not only in generational size but also in situations. In the UK and Australia, both generations share the goal of owning a home. In the UK and America, both feel the burden of debt and in Spain and Greece, both generations face the fear of unemployment.
I mean not everyone hates us and many millennials get annoyed by older generations rebuff of us. On Urban Dictionary, one user complained that those who use the term Millennial as a way to sh*t on our generation are ‘insecure idiots’ and ‘d*ckweeds’ – I concur with their feelings.
One thing that keeps going over in my mind is that I cannot really relate to all these supposed traits. I wouldn’t say that the proportion of millennials that are born from 1996 can say they’ve grown up in an optimistic and liberal environment. Or agree with the fact we can’t take criticism, considering the amount of testing and ‘feedback’ we receive from schools, parents and social media.
Noreena Hertz, in the article ‘Think Millennial have it tough? For Generation K, life is even harsher’ for The Guardian, deems this age bracket as Generation Terror, due to 9/11 and the plethora of images of mass murder. The Cold War of the Doomsday Clock, sirens and political boxing defined older generations, but now we live with extensive airport security, transport lockdowns and constant threats on major cities by lone attackers. This fits with Norway’s perception of us as Generation Serious. Hertz also describes us as Generation K for Katniss Everdeen, she too lives in an unequal and dystopian society.
Going against that, we are selfish, carefree and cushioned from the harsh world. Hertz alludes we are chronically stressed by education, appearances, loans. 40% of her 2000 strong teenager study were severely concerned with terrorism. She also argued we were a generation who dislikes, or mistrusts, institutions and believe the ‘game is rigged’. Only 6% of her study said that large companies would do the right thing, by contrast to 60% of adults. Instead, we perceive them as exploitative and see the appeal of politicians, such as Bernie Saunders and Jeremy Corbin, who promise to tackle the corruption and social injustices.
These above factors, coupled with economies and democracies crumbling around us, mean we are an anxious generation. The American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that 17% of high school students thought about suicide. This isn’t surprising considering the frequency of self-harm, depression, eating disorders, among many more mental health issues, here in the UK.
We are also lonely, regardless of our access to digital communication, we try to optimise all forms of interaction. 80% of those surveyed, preferred real socialising to the faceless chats online.
I do disagree with her on some level, she stipulates that this tail end of the Millennial period is actually part of Generation Z, the succeeding generation. This generation from a young age has widespread usage of the internet and social media; I personally wouldn’t say I had this kind of access until I was at least 12. Bar that, her analysis, I believe, sums up us latter day Millennials far more accurately than those laid out initially, these are best suited to our pre-9/11 Millennials.
So, although we share many of the Millennial 1.0s characteristics of tolerance, technology and global networks, we Millennial 2.0s are the mistrustful and cynical younger cousin of our idealist counterparts. However, we are not the tech mad Generation Z, who get iPhones at the age of 7, because to be honest, they’re worse than the Millennials.