“We’re the generation everyone loves to hate, amirite?” writes Paige Stanard, journalism major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “With our ‘stupid iPhones’ and our apps and our selfies and our social networks and our ‘narcissism,’ we’re labeled as the least patriotic generation, as racists, as the least informed generation and many more stereotypes. However, I believe us to be the most patriotic generation, the least racist, the most accepting, and the most informed generation (because of our stupid social media and apps).”
Take that, anyone who is not a Millennial.
Millennials (or Generation Y or the Net Generation) are the young men and women who matured into adulthood at the beginning of the 21st century. They are the children of the Baby Boomers or Generation X. Millennials were born between 1980-2000.
“We get used to hearing things about our generation such as ‘They act so entitled’ or ‘All they want to do is play on Facebook or Instagram,'” Paige explains.
Millennials were born at a time when parents wanted to provide their children with structure and protection to keep them safe. Their parents embraced family values and devoted more time and attention to rearing their children.
Academic achievement was a hot topic of debate when Millennials were old enough to attend school. Their parents demanded proof from schools that showed instructional excellence. The No Child Left Behind Act (2001) required increased academic testing; educators used assessment results to drive instruction and provide evidence of learning mastery. Politicians showcased their efforts to address issues that impacted the lives of children and teens.
More Millennials choose to live at home after they graduate from high school or college than previous generations. And, in many circumstances, their parents enjoy having their presence at home.
Although Millennials are often labeled as a generation reared to develop a sense entitlement, a Pew report revealed that 49 percent of Millennials consider themselves to be members of the lower- or lower-middle class. Home mortgage debt was replaced by burdens of large college debts. Although their generation is misunderstood and criticized, they remain brazenly optimistic – even though they are generally less economically successful than their parents’ generation.
Paige Stanard provides a list of some of the many reasons to love Millennials:
- We are accepting of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. We’re really just overall more accepting of all kinds of people, no matter what color their skin is, how they dress or what religion they are.
- We are an effortlessly tech-savvy generation of “Lord of the Ring” nerds, software engineers and gamers. Being intelligent and geeky is cool.
- We care about helping others, whether that is going on mission trips, joining the Peace Corps or taking volunteer vacations. Because we’re so exposed to the hurt in the world through our social media and the Internet, I think our generation more than others has a true heart for doing good.
- We love to learn and have intellectual discussions about everything from Syria to Star Wars. We aren’t afraid to chase our dreams, start our own companies, or even quit our tedious day jobs for lesser-paying ones that (gasp!) make us happy.
- We’re less concerned with conventional success and monetary restraints and more concerned with finding enjoyment and fulfillment with our careers. Why this is considered a negative trait, I don’t know.
- We’re quick learners and highly adaptable when it comes to our careers. Oh, there’s a new social media site? We’re on it.
- We’re more conservationally-minded — recycling, eating organic, re-purposing or riding bikes instead of driving cars — the list goes on.
- We’ve thrown out old-fashioned, sexist dating norms and gender roles. And in doing so, we’ve freed ourselves from the old-fashioned ideals of marriage and family to create our own love-filled relationships.
- Are we cheap? If that means being penny-pinchers by thrift store shopping and DIYing instead of going into debt like our parents by buying fancy new cars and extravagant houses, then yes. We are thrifty.
Margaret Rouse, writer and director of WhatIs.com, reports Millennials have the least faith in U.S. institutions. They also show the highest support of political independents and protestor-formed governments. She adds, “Although Millennials have less faith in religious institutions, at the same time the numbers have also risen for those who have absolute faith in the existence of God.”
Rouse explains the words and actions of many church representatives clash with the Millennial ideal of tolerance for religious, racial, gender, sexual orientation differences. They are concerned about social justice and refuse to support institutions with values and messages that conflict with social and economic equality.
Twenty percent of Millennials have at least one immigrant parent. “As the most ethnically diverse generation, Millennials tend to be tolerant of multicultural and socioeconomic differences.” explains Neil Howe, contributing writer to Forbes. “Millennials grew up in an electronics-filled and increasingly online and socially-networked world.”
Many people look at Millennials and assume, because their busily engaged with technology, that they are tuned-in to their techno-devices and turned-off by everything going on around them. Although mobile devices offer detours and provide users with a means of escape, many older adults often incorrectly assume Millennials are more interested in connections with their cell phones than in personal face-to-face conversations. Nothing could be further from the truth. Millennials are starving for opportunities to build relationships – with older adults and with one another.
Technology will continue to impact the lives of future generations, our communities, and our planet. The Centre for Research, Innovation and Future Development at St. Paul’s School, Australia, created a powerful video, Did You Know That in 2028? It statistically illustrates the changing landscape of technology and its impact on our lives as a global community.
Millennials are students of 21st century education; they attended schools at a time when technology became important learning tools in classrooms. Furthermore, when their computers or devices don’t function properly, the techno-savvy Millennials often know how to troubleshoot and solve problems with little assistance.
“So, maybe, Millennials aren’t so bad, after all,” concludes Ms. Stanard. “And perhaps, we are exactly what this country needs right now. I mean, after all, the future of this country rests in our hands.”
The Millennials – and the next generations of young adults – are more than the future. They are our present with gifts, talents, and insights that are collectively valuable to all of us. We must do more than tell young adults that we value their gifts. We must invite them into full participation within our organizations, churches, and work places. We must involve them. We must honor their leadership gifts. We must ask for their input. We must start conversations with them. We must listen.
What can you do to more fully understand and connect with Millennials?
Are young people tuned in or turned off by conversations with folks from older generations? Read Teens & Technology: Tuned In or Turned Off?
Encourage Millennials to explore their passions. Discover 7 Reasons Why You Need a Dream.
Use these suggestions explore What’s Your Dream? and create a strong vision, mission, and goals.
Use these suggestions from How to Be a Good Role Model to pump up the example you want be to inspire Millennials.
Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. I only promote products I use and highly recommend. My full disclosure is here.