Each generation is influenced by certain characteristics and broad swaths painted to generalize. And each time a generation comes of age into the world, the older generations set themselves apart by criticizing and nitpicking the characteristics of the new one. This is currently happening for the Millennial generation. We’ve read countless articles about the Millennial generation, mainly from the perspective of older generations.
Generalizing entire groups can be enticing, as it can make a worldview more categorical and easier to understand. However, it is largely inaccurate to attempt to understand a group of 75.4 million people based on a few characteristics. The mindset of someone born in 1982 is going to be vastly different than the mindset of someone born in 2004. Perhaps because of the rapidly advancing technology in the modern world, a swath of 30 years is too broad to characterize people by.
People born in 1990 could, at most, play Solitare or Pipes on the computer during their childhood. Cell phones were not common when they were nine, and smartphones were not yet invented.
People born in 2000 could use an iPhone 5S by the time they turned 13 years old. They have reached adolescence in the age of social media, and never existed in a world without the Internet.
There are major differences in the people of a generation. In addition to the 30-year span, there are many identity differences among the 75.4 million millenials in the U.S. These identifiers include gender, race, ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation, educational status, region of the country and others.
It’s obvious that a middle-class white female Millennial will have different experiences and characteristics than a lower-class Latino male Millennial. So how can the characteristics of “lazy,” “entitled,” “sheltered,” “tech-saavy” and “sensitive” be attributed to 75.4 million people born within a 30-year period, made up of a diverse swath of identities?
Many environmental factors affecting people may oust the characteristics commonly ascribed to millenials. If a person has no access to technology, will they truly be best described as tech-saavy? If a person did not have helicopter parents who tracked their every movement, can they truly be described as sheltered or entitled? If a person has worked a job since the age of 16, can they accurately be described as lazy?
The concept of a Millennial seems to focus on particular class statuses and models of family, namely that of middle and upper class and a two-parent household. In coming generations, developments in culture may happen so quickly and so diversely that a broad swath may no longer be accurate to cover a span of 30 years. Perhaps different identities will be recognized and studied within the same generation, more carefully than was done for previous generations.