“The demographic cohort following Generation X.” (Wikipedia)
“Both Generation Y and Generation Z can be called ‘Millennials’, with the primary difference between the two being technology.” (Urban Dictionary)
“A term used to refer to the generation, born from 1980 onward, brought up using digital technology and mass media; the children of Baby Boomers.” (Dictionary.com)
“A person straddling the border between technological freedom and obsession. Also, a Snapchat user who may not necessarily be a teenager.” (Me)
There’s a lot of discussion going on about millennials but no one seems to have a clear view of what they are. For starters, there’s way too many buzzwords flying around. Generation Y, Generation Z, the baby bust, echo boomers. Everyone’s so keen on creating the next viral marketing phrase that a single generation now has 16 names. If you’re a Baby Boomer and think it’s confusing, try being a member of this clusterfuck.
I have friends and peers who are the same age as me and identify themselves as Gen Xr’s. I’ve always thought I occupied the mature upper tier of millennialism. You know, the ones who still remember Saved By the Bell and MS-DOS. But depending on who you ask, I could be both.
In 2014, The Atlantic kinda sorta set the record straight by defining every generation. Gen Xr’s were born between 1965 and 1984. (According to this, I’m part of Gen X.) But the same article goes on to say Generation Y consists of people born between the mid 70s and mid 2000s. (Again, this would qualify me as Gen Y.) But, The Atlantic kindly noted Gen Y “is a fake, made-up thing.” Okay, so I’m still a Gen Xr, right? In the same article still, millennials are defined as people born from 1982 to 2004. (My designation changes once again—now I’m a millennial.)
I know we’re living in an age of disposable info. A headline from 5 minutes ago is already old news. With this in mind, I searched for newer articles from reputable sources that dove deep into this issue. U.S. News & World Report argued that generational cutoffs are flexible and driven by cultural trend. Though, the magazine reported Neil Howe’s theory. In 1991, he coined the term ‘millennial’ and defined it as those born in 1982 and later. These kids were the first to turn 18 in the new millennium. By this explanation, I’m still a millennial.
Infographic website Millennial Marketing defines my group (at least, I think I’m a part of it) as people born between 1977 and 2000. Dude, whatever. By most definitions, I’m a millennial. I’m going with that.
I actively use 9 different social media apps or websites every single day. If it ain’t Bluetooth, don’t bring it in my house. I’m more apt to jot something down in a phone note than on a piece of paper or a post-it. I network almost exclusively through email and apps but dread in-person mixers. Even as a writer, I can’t get through a single conversation without saying “like”. Most days, I get my breaking news from a list of dope followers I curated on Twitter. If I lose my phone, it’s almost as panic-inducing as losing a limb.
On the other hand…
Most Fridays, I’m snoozing by 11. I prefer the pages of a book to be the last thing my eyes see before doing so. I still have about 400 CDs stacked on a shelf in my closet. I’m more apt to trust word of mouth recommendations than Yelp reviews. I still call to make doctor’s appointments. I think of 1997 as one of hip hop’s golden years. I write in a journal (with pen and paper) every morning. I often feel talking to my peers is like discussing life’s purpose with a 10-year-old.
Maybe part of the reason I’m so confused about which generation I belong to is my tendency to exhibit characteristics of both groups.
I’m one of those people who seems to exist on the cusp of everything. I was born in 1984, which some sources consider the start of the millennial generation. Even if the true beginning is 1982, I’m still pretty close to the start. Add to that I was born on the second day of Libra on the astrological calendar. I have both Virgo and Libra traits, if you believe in that sort of thing. I’m sort of an expert at juggling multiple identities.
I suppose the question to ask here is if being a millennial matters. Sure, we have different habits than our predecessors. But can’t the same be said of every generation? There’s always new technology. Surely, my grandparents were leery of computers the same way my parents are leery of social media. I’m sure we’ll despise (or at least ridicule) Generation Z, whenever we figure out who the hell they are.
If I’m not a marketer, understanding the characteristics of a millennial serves no purpose. I don’t wake up in the morning and dedicate myself to a set of activities because I’ve been labeled a millennial. “I can’t write this letter. I need to send an email…because I’m a millennial.” I just exist and do things the way I feel comfortable.
That’s what we should all do.
American culture seems to dictate a sense of pride in one’s generation. There are certain cultural developments which lend themselves to fond memories—things that older and younger generations can’t understand the significance of. However, given the way we all exchange information today, I don’t think our experiences should be limited based on an age cutoff.
I’m 32 years old, I’m a millennial, and I don’t think it really matters.