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Kids These Days: A Study of the Millennial Generation

Emily Acton, Staff Writer

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“When I was your age…” and “Kids these days!” are the rallying war cries of the independent Baby Boomers and Generation X’s cynics. The world has too many problems today, and, of course, it’s all our fault.

We are the Millennials. We come after Generation X, and while many historians have tried to call us Generation Y, we have clearly stepped out of their shadow and made a new name for ourselves. It’s estimated that a Millennial is someone who was born in between 1983-2004. You are part of this group, and it’s unclear if this is a good thing or not.

It’s hard to tell everything about a generation until they’re all dead, but there are a few characteristics that Millennials are pretty obvious.

Technologically Savvy 

Millennials have never had to use word processors—just word processing software on computers. Millennials don’t really remember a time without cell phones, and probably own one now. Millennials gasp when you tell them Facebook is only nine years old—that there was a time when they didn’t document every second of their life with selfies and status updates. Millennials grew up playing games on CD-ROMs, spent their middle school years on Club Penguin, are now hooked on Candy Crush on their iPhones. You live in the time that technology is commonplace and will only get bigger and better.

In the early days of their lives, many of Millennials used floppy disks. By the time they hit middle school, it was all about USB flash drives. Now, they just upload it to a cloud of information on the internet and pray they have wifi when they need it. Unlike their parents, Millennials have been exposed to technology from a very young age and have developed along with it. They can adapt to technology without question, while a good deal of older generations are still struggling along.

Narcissistic and Optimistic 

Another characteristic of the Millennials is entitlement. Because of the way we were raised, we believe that we deserve the best, even when we don’t do the best. We were raised on participation trophies and competitions where “everybody wins!” This stemmed from parents’ obsession with making sure their children had proper self-esteem; but self-esteem can’t really be given as a prize. In soccer and baseball leagues, everyone got a trophy—the winner got the biggest trophy, but everyone got some sort of prize. A “good effort” prize. Every post-game meeting of any sports team, the coach starts out with “we did our best,” or “we gave it our all” before going on to gently criticize performances. And it’s just now that it’s really starting to make a difference.

A lot of younger Millennials are applying for their first jobs and becoming appalled when they have to apply for five, ten different jobs—why didn’t the first one hire me, huh? The seniors are applying for college, and they’re going to be sorely disappointed when they don’t get into their number one choice. And their parents have not prepared them for that. According to them and the way they raised their children, every single one of the Millennials will have a job—it’s just a matter of how good of a job it will be.

Even more, everyone believes that they can make a difference—that they will be the exception to the rule, the one in a million that has a crazy success story and makes it to the top on dreams and pluck alone. A survey by Telefonica shows that 83% of American Millennials believe they can make a local difference, and 52% believe they can make a global difference.

Open-minded 

Recent studies have shown that Millennials are automatically more accepting than any previous generation. Baby Boomers are still a little bit racist, which partially may have passed onto their children. But it would be much harder to find a Millennials who would purposefully discriminate against someone because of their skin color. President Obama was elected for the first time in 2008—some Millennials were old enough to vote in this election. While they might not always agree with someone’s lifestyle, the rising trend of Millennials is to not interfere with anyone else’s personal life, as long as they’re not hurting anybody else. An approximated 81% of Millennials believe that same sex marriage should be legally recognized, according to the Advocates for Youth study; 65% of Millennials support the legalization of marijuana according to the Pew Research Poll.

What Will Millennials Become? 

Generation X, usually defined as anyone born from the late 60s to the early 80s, was characterized as a group of lazy, passive slackers in their youth, but they are currently defined as well-educated, cynical, and confrontational. So it is projected that each Millennial will develop into someone more than just a narcissistic, accepting techie. But there’s even a trend that teenagers attempt to define themselves at a younger age. Most people are fairly certain of who they are by the time they graduate (or at least make a good show of saying they are). Whatever happens, remember that you don’t have to be defined only by your generation.

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Kids These Days: A Study of the Millennial Generation