There is much confusion abounding about what it means to be a “Millennial,” I just wanted to clear a few things up. To some it’s a pejorative, an insult, to others it’s merely a misunderstood “generation” and to marketers in the media its nothing but a demographic that they think they understand. I can tell you one thing, weather you consider yourself to be a part of the so-called millennial generation or one of the generations that look down upon them, there is something you need to know, it’s all a figment of your imagination.
Before they were calling us millennials they called us the MTV generation. Demographers define the “millennial” generation as those who were coming of age during the year 2000, as in anyone who was either a teenager or a young adult. The typical, most widely accepted date line is anyone born between 1980 and 1995. I guess I fall smack in the middle of that generation. I knew I wasn’t Gen-X, that’s my mom’s generation and it’s kind of hard to be in the same generation as your parents, being the “next generation” of their DNA and all that.
What does it actually mean to be a “Millennial?” Well nothing really, it’s a made up word used by members of the so-called “main stream media” and marketers as a way to define those young people currently between the ages of 22 and 37 or somewhere in that age range. The stereotypical millennial is some super entitled hipster that has a smart phone permanently attached to their hand with their face planted firmly into the abstract cloud based world-wide-web of information. Often described as lazy, entitled, too into their technology and so many other negative’s I don’t have the energy to go after them all. But the name millennial itself, is so negative I know personally people in my generation, friends and family who are millennials, or at least are in the generation that is being talked about, who distance themselves from it, or use it themselves to talk down to the “kids coming up” I guess, without realizing the kids born in the year 2000, they can’t be millennials, they’re still in high school.
Here are my confessions as a so-called Millennial. Do I wear the name like a badge of honor, sure why not, the so-called mainstream media gets just about everything about us so far wrong that even other so-called millennials can’t agree on what it means to be one. Let me put it like this, many of the actual millennials I now who are in denial, that say things like we’re all narcissistic, or “they’re” all narcissistic, are usually posting pictures of their kids doing the most mundane thing as some accomplishment to social media while simultaneously knocking other so-called “millennials” for doing the exact same thing. Well sure hypocrisy is rampant among any generation, just look at the “greatest” generation and their baby-boomer children. Actually don’t look that closely because you might discover that the “greatest” generation, wasn’t actually that great, and you might be further shocked to learn that the MTV generation, as we used to be called before it was cool to define us by the Y2K bug that we supposedly caused. Oh right I guess I lost my train of thought, we tend to do that being that we’re all OCD with ADHD and whatnot. I guess I should point out that if you compare the accomplishments of the baby boomers to our generation, well the baby boomers end up looking like a bunch of bitter old farts barking at their computers trash talking those silly millennials and their stupid little gadgets.
Okay maybe that was a little harsh, I have some good friends that are baby boomers, but even they often have not only negative stereotypes of our generation, including false assumptions of me personally. Needless to say they aren’t all that bad, but you know what, neither are we.
So what does a so-called Millennial do with his or her day? The same thing the baby boomers did and the Generation X-ers that spawned us, we live our lives. We go to school. We start families. We build bridges and start businesses, invent new technologies, replace outdated systems with new and improved systems; you know the same thing every generation before us did. And like every generation before us, the one that came before always looks down on the one coming up. Hell we do it to the, what are we calling them now snowflakes, that are coming up behind us. Some people mix up the “snowflakes” with the millennials. In other words, nothing has changed every generation digs on the one coming up, it’s the same as those old timers who reminisce about the so-called “good old days” which is just a myth because the problems of the world have been the same since the beginning of recorded history, pick up a bible or any history book to learn about that.
Alright enough complaining so what are some things that the pollsters get wrong about millennials? I guess for starters that we’re all socialist, elitist hipsters that have OCD and are narcissistic to a fault.
I will tackle each one individually. I will start with the accusation we’re all socialists. False. Our generation has done more for capitalism than the Generation X ever did. When Gen X wanted to go to the moon they built a socialist program funded by tax payers that was used to bolster national TV ratings so capitalist advertisers could line their pockets. Okay a 50-50 split for socialism. What has our generation done? We said screw NASA and their tax payer funded military driven hidden agenda, let’s privatize space exploration with Google and Space X having REPLACED NASA’s outdated shuttle program and currently working on space tourism that is designed to be, eventually, affordable for the masses. Under the generation X/Baby boomers only a handful of government trained elitists would EVER get the “privilege” of flying into space. Under the direction of the millennial generation, our kids and our grandkids will be able to fly to a space hotel in low earth orbit thanks to capitalist investments in space. Point goes to the Millennials. I will give a point to NASA and the Boomers for at least secretly launching the internet as part of the very same socialist space program they developed to combat Russian socialism, I mean Communism.
What about we’re all elitist hipsters? Also false, about as false s you can get. The one most common complaint I hear by boomers and older gen-xers is the breakdown of country clubs, the declining membership of elitist members-only groups that require members to pay monthly dues to participate, alienating the lower-income folks, in order for the so-called elites to stick together to hold onto the way things are. Millennials as a whole tend to be less likely to join elitist members-only clubs, not because we’re not civic minded or even all anti-social, more on that later. The real reason is we tend to be more inclusive, we tend to be more welcoming to who we associate with and while racism, bigotry and other words of the like get thrown about, our generation certainly has its share of racists, on both sides, as a whole we tend to be more willing to associate with people of different backgrounds, including those of a lower economic status as ourselves, and we tend to be more willing to do our volunteer work not so much for show or through organized members-only clubs, but instead we just do it because we see a person in need and we help them out. Again that goes hand in hand with dismissing the false claim we’re all socialists, because you know we’d rather help our members of the community out ourselves than rely on government assistance. We prefer to cut out the middle man and give directly, that is why we created things like GoFundMe and Patreon, seriously proof our generation is MORE giving than the boomers and Gen-Xers.
How does GoFundMe or Patreon prove we’re more giving? Well it also proves we’re less selfish than we’re described. The Boomers especially when someone fell on hard times would give money to charities with large overhead costs that would barely do anything more than make people feel worthless for falling on hard times. With GoFundMe we cut out the middle man, if someone is struggling they create a GoFundMe and ask for a reasonable amount of money to get through their hardship, maybe it’s make a late mortgage payment to help a single mother out who lost her job, or maybe it’s to help someone who doesn’t have insurance pay for a medical bill that is insurmountable. So instead of telling that person go through the lengthy process of filling paper work applying for charities to raise the funds and waiting for bureaucrat to approve the funds, we can just give a few bucks here and there to any cause we feel worthy and the people get the money directly and use it for whatever they say they are using it for.
What about Patreon? Well another thing we Millennials did was we got tired of McDonald’s, Pepsi, Ford, AT&T, Big Tobacco, and beer companies deciding what we get to watch. We did away with the out-dated advertising driven model of TV, movies, books, video games, radio, etc., and developed what is known as social media. The very basic aspect of it is the Facebook and Twitter but it goes deeper. We have YouTube, Twitch, Netflix, Instagram, Spotify, and a host of other internet based content created BY regular people FOR the entertainment of ourselves. Some of the content, much of it in fact, is social or viral videos, normal people sharing the little moments in their lives with the wider internet. You know so whenever one of our babies or pets does something extra cute we video it and share it with the whole world, this partially explains where the accusations of narcissism comes from, however it’s really just our way of saying hey, here is a nice little distraction from the corporate advertisers telling you what you are supposed to enjoy. The way Patreon works is instead of an advertiser commissioning a director and a team of writers to develop a series, a small group of maybe two or three creative individuals goes to the internet and tells their plan for a show to those who might be interested. An example would be someone who has a vlog series (video log) where they talk about topics people are interested in. A very interesting one that I enjoy DAILY is called “Today I Found Out” where you get brief, usually less than 7 minute, video dedicated to a fun, interesting topic that gives you some basic information, usually insightful and often as much as you would get in a typical Discovery Channel program but without all the commercials and filler getting in the way of the entertainment. So Patreon is a way for a fan of the creator to donate any amount they wish, large or small, directly to the creator both as a thank you for the content and as a way of supporting their favorite programs, ensuring they stay “on the air” without having to resort to organize letter writing campaigns like the famous Star Trek deal from the 1960’s.
In addition to GoFundMe and Patreon we have a thing called crowd funding, another example would be Indie-GoGo where a film maker, author, or video game developer can announce their plans for a project and ask for donations directly from the same people who are likely to spend money on the finished project. There is another one called Kickstarter that is popular. The point is we don’t rely on the institutions of the old timers to get our entertainment or other projects; we give directly to inventors, authors, story-tellers, even musicians, instead of letting some big corporate entity take all the profit and control the message. I guess to some that makes us look socialists, but it really just makes us innovators. Another point goes to the millennials.
What about we’re all OCD, ADHD or have some other disorder like social anxiety or something else? This one can be a bit touchy but let me just keep it simple, we don’t have any greater frequency of mental health than any other generation based on any information I could find, we just live in a modern society where more information is known about things that in previous generations we didn’t know as much. I will say that yes we have all grown up with our computers and electronic devices, even more so than the Generation X-ers that basically started the computer revolution. But really all we did as take what they started and perfected it. They made the World Wide Web, we made it better. They created AOL, a corporate portal that kept the internet hidden behind a pay wall with advertisers determining what content was available, we created social media and open source platforms where the entire internet is basically free and anyone can access it openly, you know just taking their vision and making it an actual reality. Don’t get me wrong I have ancient memories of the dusty old dial up days of American Online and using Keywords to search for terms instead of using Facebook and YouTube to share web pages and videos. Memes wouldn’t even be possible without our intervention.
Sure you look at Pokémon Go and see the decline of civilization, or see something like Oculus Rift as one more way for us to stay at home and not get fresh air. But what I see is a world where we have information available to us that we can use to our advantage to not only make our own lives better, but the world a better place too. Also for those politically minded, Millennials vote in the same patterns as their parents, Baby Boomers that were conservative spawned liberal Gen X babies who rebelled against mommy and daddy, those Gen X-ers spawn conservatives who rebelled against their liberal parents, and vice versa, that’s how it works kids rebel against their parents ideals and discover their own way in life, it’s okay for them to do that this is why you kick us out of the house and tell us to get a job. Maybe we drag our feet in leaving the nest longer than previous generations but that’s because we’re often very busy using our electronic gadgets to make the world a little less scary for the next generation. I give that point to our parents for raising us right. So maybe Generation X and Millennials are both pretty good after all. Maybe instead of spending so much time passing the blame around why don’t we just celebrate our accomplishments, enjoy the fact we live in a free society where we can say whatever we want, and just live our lives without worrying about what other people think. Am I a Millennial, you bet your ass I am, and I am not ashamed of being a part of the greatest nation on Earth, I am just glad I was born at a time when we can reach beyond our own weaknesses and connect with others that share our faults. If I didn’t have the connections I made on the internet, I might not be who I am today.