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New Pew Study Finds the Millennial Generation the Most Educated, Underemployed, Optimistic, Plugged-In, Nonreligious, Democratic generation in American History
February 24, 2010 5:51 PM   Subscribe

Dig out the flannel from the attic--there's another grunge movement a-comin'! According to a new study from the Pew Research Center, the millennial generation (18-29 year olds) are becoming one of the most educated generations ever, but many of them are still unemployed. This research revealed another very scary statistic. They said the college students who graduate during a bad economy typically suffer long term consequences that can affect their careers and earnings for as long as 15 years (Gen-Xers everywhere wince).

Whereas Gen-X is the most Republican generation (having been raised in the Reagan era?), the Millennials are predominately Democratic. As first noted by generational analysts William Strauss and Neil Howe, they are not individualistic risk-takers like the Boomers or cynical and disengaged like Generation Xers. Signs indicate that Millennials are civic-minded, politically engaged, and hold values long associated with progressives, such as concern about economic inequalities, desire for a more multilateral foreign policy, and a strong belief in government.
posted by njbradburn (85 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
These kids are welcome to remain on my lawn.
posted by entropicamericana at 5:53 PM on February 24, 2010 [23 favorites]


I sense a great Doom Metal movement coming our way.
posted by NoMich at 5:57 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Signs indicate that Millennials most non-Ivy league college grads with student loans are civic-minded, politically engaged, and hold values long associated with progressives, such as concern about economic inequalities, desire for a more multilateral foreign policy, and a strong belief in government.


fixt?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 5:57 PM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


These kids are welcome to remain on my lawn.

It's either that or couchsurfing, if this data is any indication.
posted by cmgonzalez at 5:58 PM on February 24, 2010


I already had scabies once - so no couchsurfing over here. But I do have a lot of cassettes you kids can have. And zines! Hey - you gotta read the zines while you're listening to the music. I got a lot of old issues of HATE as well.
posted by Kloryne at 6:01 PM on February 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


(looks down) Hoooly shit I'm wearing leggings and motorcycle boots right now.
posted by Kloryne at 6:03 PM on February 24, 2010


Speaking of the Doom Metal movement. I got a catalog today that offers this black metal family tree.
posted by Kloryne at 6:09 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm really glad Millennials is catching on. So much better than the ones based on other generations, like Gen-Y or Echo Generation. Eugh.

The full report's really interesting and worth checking out, by the way.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:10 PM on February 24, 2010


I love HATE.
posted by Skygazer at 6:11 PM on February 24, 2010


Me too, Skygazer. Always will...
posted by Kloryne at 6:12 PM on February 24, 2010


Born in 1980 I'm like right on the border of "Gen-X" and 'millenials' (which used to be called Gen-Y)

The interesting thing about all the Gen-Y stuff is how much it's changed. People have been going on about them since the 90s, but it seems like this new "batch" is quite a bit different from what people talked about them in the early 2000s.

And on top of that, according to Wikipedia
"commentators have used birth dates ranging somewhere from the mid 1970s[7][8][9][9][10][11][12] to the early 2000s.[13][14][15][6][16][17][18][19][20]"
posted by delmoi at 6:13 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Delmoi, just fyi, they stopped calling them Gen-Y when they figured out the "X" in Gen-X is the Roman numeral X. I mean 10.
posted by njbradburn at 6:20 PM on February 24, 2010


As an 18-29 year old, I fit those qualificatons: educated, unemployed, civic minded, etc. I just question how many of my generational peers fit. Particularly in the political realm.
posted by SansPoint at 6:22 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Solon and Thanks: I'm really glad Millennials is catching on.

In Iceland the generation born in the 70s (and this definition is sometimes extended to people born in the 80s) are referred to as krúttkynslóðin, which translates to The Cutiepie Generation. As someone born in 1981 I'm doing my darnedest to make sure that the moniker is restricted to people born in the 70s.
posted by Kattullus at 6:25 PM on February 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


the "X" in Gen-X is the Roman numeral X
My cursory research finds no support for this--are you sure?
posted by olaguera at 6:39 PM on February 24, 2010


I think that the boomers are really gonna lose it as they get close to dying out. I expect them to come up with a world destroying self-destruct like a super-villian in the final throws of James Bond infiltration. They strike me as being likely to go out screaming, "We shall be the Final Generation! If we can't have the earth then no one will!"
posted by Babblesort at 6:40 PM on February 24, 2010 [14 favorites]


Born in 1980 I'm like right on the border of "Gen-X" and 'millenials' (which used to be called Gen-Y)

I say we born in 1980-types should get our own generation. With blackjack! And hookers!
posted by signalnine at 6:40 PM on February 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


I fall smack-dab in the middle of Gen-X, born 1969. And what I resent is when millennials get told You're the first American generation that's not going to do as well as your parents.

Hellooooooo... 13th Gen, still here. Still waiting for our turn.

We've been told since the end of the Cold War that we were going to be the first generation to do less well than our parents, we are the first generation to do less well than our parents, and these coddled little slacker-come-latelies can get to the back of the bread line.

Strauss & Howe made the analogy that us 13th Gen Nomads are Han Solo to the Millennial Lukes & Leias. And I look at them and think My, weren't they kept in the original packaging for a long time. Don't they look fresh and shiny and unplayed with.

</CRANKY_TATTOOED_OLD_FART>
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:46 PM on February 24, 2010 [16 favorites]


I'm solidly in the middle of the 'millenials'. I'm civic minded and progressive. I also went back to school for a Master's degree because I could find a job before the economic downturn really got going (though I started the degree January 2008, so arguably it was gearing up as I was deciding to apply). I now have the Masters, and it's not doing me much good.

I'm not sure I have a point, other than to say "Yup," to the premise of the FPP.
posted by Caduceus at 6:47 PM on February 24, 2010


As it turns out, I'm not much of an individual. Damn. Thankfully, my fellow sheep are fabulous!
posted by Diagonalize at 6:47 PM on February 24, 2010


Joy. As a member of Generation X I got to enjoy that wave of bad economy and career doldrums. And it just so happens that I've just finished getting a masters in order to start a new career so I can enjoy this new economic disaster the same way!
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:50 PM on February 24, 2010


Baaa
posted by Zalzidrax at 6:50 PM on February 24, 2010


I'm solidly in the middle of the 'millenials'. I'm civic minded and progressive. I also went back to school for a Master's degree

You might want to check your math there...
posted by delmoi at 6:51 PM on February 24, 2010


...they are not individualistic risk-takers like the Boomers

Yeah, that went well.
posted by griphus at 6:55 PM on February 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm with Demoi - born in 1980, 29 years old, on the cusp of Gen-X and the Mellennials. Which means I don't really have a "generation" per se, though I was born to Boomer parents and fully bought into everything about the Grunge movement, I was also way too young to get laid while doing so (Reality Bites came out when I was, like, 13 I think.)

Instead I got to start college in 1999, which was bright and shiny and pretty great, but got 9/11 when I was not-quite 21, which was less great (going to NYU didn't help there) and then spent most of my 20s watching Bush destroy everything I'd hoped for at the beginning of the decade.

In truth, I believe I am both disaffected and idealistic. Personally I am rabidly Democratic and nonreligious, educated and underemployed, and I'm pretty optimistic most of the time. But I live with a lot of the teachings of my solidly-Gen-X siblings.

Not that it really matters, of course, but if generations are supposed to be social movements, I'd have liked to have been more a part of one, I guess.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:56 PM on February 24, 2010


I say we born in 1980-types should get our own generation. With blackjack! And hookers!

Agreed, I was born in 1980 as well, and I always identified more with gen-X, if we must use labels like that. The music and culture associated with gen-X is what me and people my age were into in high school, after all.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:00 PM on February 24, 2010


I was one of the participants in the study. I was told at the beginning of the call that I would be given $10 to participate, and being unemployed, like, apparently, 37% of millenials, I was more than happy to answer their questions.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:05 PM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Millennials? I thought the term was Generation Why? Or maybe Generation Whine.
posted by Sailormom at 7:08 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


there's another grunge movement a-comin'!

*Sniff* Sniff* Smells like teen spirit!
posted by octobersurprise at 7:09 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm a member of generation next. You can join too regardless of age. You just have to have an unquenchable thirst for Pepsi and bad teeth.
posted by drezdn at 7:18 PM on February 24, 2010


Heeey, that's me!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:22 PM on February 24, 2010


There's also the fact that businesses are going crazy trying to figure out how to motivate Gen-Y people. I've had to sit through countless meetings with people who ask 'How do we motivate people who don't see work as anything but a way to fund their band and who will quit in a tantrum? How do we deal with their relative lack of responsibility and total lack of a work ethic?'

And then, in unison, everyone's heads swivel and look at me. I want to scream, 'I am not irresponsible! I am not lazy or a diva!'

But as I know that will lead nowhere good, I try to look as if I have no idea that anyone could class me as Gen Y. This pattern does not incline me to feel kindly toward Gen Y people.
posted by winna at 7:25 PM on February 24, 2010


How do we motivate people who don't see work as anything but a way to fund their band

By realizing that maybe they're right?
posted by uncleozzy at 7:34 PM on February 24, 2010 [22 favorites]


Way to cut off the end of that sentence! Unless it is perfectly right to quit your job because you can't get a day off to attend a show?
posted by winna at 7:39 PM on February 24, 2010


I tried to read Strauss and Howe when their first book came out. As I recall I stopped reading when I realized their "theories" were more like gross generalizations made to fit pre-determined conclusions rather than a serious work of actual demographic research. They just came across as pseudo-scientists more interested in self-promotion (hence incessant use of 13th Gen and Millennials rather than the more common GenX and GenY) than someone actually trying to understand and describe cultural generations. Are there demographers or sociologists that take their ideas seriously?
posted by plastic_animals at 7:43 PM on February 24, 2010


Unless it is perfectly right to quit your job because you can't get a day off to attend a show?

I wouldn't, but hey, in a market where lots of employers treat employees as interchangeable and expendable, why wouldn't employees look at the market the same way? For lots of people, a job is a job, so long as the check clears.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:44 PM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


'How do we motivate people who don't see work as anything but a way to fund their band and who will quit in a tantrum?

Good pay, health benefits, and job security.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:58 PM on February 24, 2010 [19 favorites]


Good pay, health benefits, and job security.

What are you, some kind of fascist socialist communist? Why do you hate America so much?
posted by vibrotronica at 7:59 PM on February 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


There's also the fact that businesses are going crazy trying to figure out how to motivate Gen-Y people.

I suspect you motivate them much like anyone else who sees their job only as a means to an end (the end being, of course, living their life as they see fit): pay them fairly, don't treat them like crap, don't be surprised if, when they see a better offer, they take it. Realise that they don't feel any more obligation to the big faceless corporation (or even the small, personal one) than the corporation feels to them.

A lot of us Gen-Xers would love to have the sort of job flexibility than people seem to think Gen-Ys are demanding – I guess it just never occurred to us to demand it first.

(Not that I actually think these generational distinctions are remotely valid, but if it results in (what I consider) positive changes to the employer-employee dynamic, then I'm all for it.)
posted by damonism at 7:59 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whereas Gen-X is the most Republican generation..

say what?
posted by spilon at 8:01 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm like Sting, born in the 50's.
posted by pianomover at 8:07 PM on February 24, 2010


This sort of stuff drives me crazy, because there is no such thing as a generation. Well, for humans at least. If we were like, say, elk, and we had one breeding season and most babies were born within a few weeks of each other every year, I could see that. But humans aren't like that at all. Every single day babies are conceived and every single day babies are born. Its a continuum, and trying to cut it off into arbitrary chunks just doesn't make sense to me.

The confusion a lot of people here are having over what generation they are in and what that generation would be called is proof of this. I was born in '81, therefore the first music I really got into was grunge - it was on the radio when I was starting to discover music. But I was obviously too young to be part of the grunge scene. I wasn't a slacker as a middle schooler. I wasn't watching R rated movies, so I'd have missed out on say Dazed and Confused - but then again, I was really into My So Called Life reruns on Mtv. So what would make me part of that cultural construct? I was intimately associated with some of the touchstones of the generation, but not all of them. But even people that were older than me are going to have had to miss out on some of them because there's just too much culture to be on top of it all. I certainly feel more kinship to that stuff than the stuff that theoretically belongs to my generation like say Eminem. Does having vague recollections of the challenger explosion help sort it out?

Or take for example "The Greatest Generation". How do we define what that generation is? Because the people who defined that generation - like say Hitler and FDR - were born in the 1890s, which is why they were in power in the 1930s. They clearly aren't part of the generation by dint of their birth. But is there a greatest generation without FDR or Hitler? I mean, we're all in this together. You can't just say "this is the generation that went through the depression and fought World War Two" because everyone alive in England at that time did both of those things.

As far as this specific instance of generation defining goes - well, bullshit. A generation isn't conservative or liberal. People in it are. But the whole group? God no. The people in my age group fall across an entire political spectrum as far as I can tell, and as I'd expect them to. I was in college in 2000 and I know people who voted for Bush and I know people who voted for Nader and I know people who just didn't give a shit. And some of them are unemployed, some are underemployed, some are just right, and others got fucking lucky. (My next door neighbor my sophomore year in college is Lady Gaga's DJ right now, and I can tell you, the only thing that guy deserves is a punch to the gut... which my friend Billy actually gave him once.) We are no more unified as one thing than the Boomers are - because yeah, a lot of people were into peace and love, but somebody had to be voting for Richard Nixon for him to win the biggest landslide victory in electoral politics history.
posted by Kiablokirk at 8:09 PM on February 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


There's also the fact that businesses are going crazy trying to figure out how to motivate Gen-Y people.

I suggest no job security, no health benefits, and no retirement benefits. Throw in some unpaid internships for fun.

Ah, they've already tried that? Well, then. I have no idea what to do.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:11 PM on February 24, 2010 [16 favorites]


*taps foot* I'd better see some new and exciting street drugs come out of you kids or I'm gonna force your tent city commune off my lawn.
posted by The Whelk at 8:14 PM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]




There's also the fact that businesses are going crazy trying to figure out how to motivate Gen-Y people.


I love that gaping void where the future used to be, oh! what could it be! it's so black and empty and hollow! lets look at it some more!
posted by The Whelk at 8:15 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


A company that gave me great health benefits and flex hours would have my loyalty for a long long time.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:29 PM on February 24, 2010


CHILDREN of the FUTURE! I am here to say one thing to you, as the destiny you were promised flies away on the wings of High Strangeness...

SLACK!

The world does owe you a living. Kallisti!
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:56 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think it goes without saying that this generation label thing is pretty much bullshit. I won't go into a tangent about that here. So with that caveat, I generalize that yes, we are a very educated (and largely unemployed) bunch. But is that a surprise? I mean, isn't that the point? Shouldn't the newest 'generation' always be the most educated? Isn't that why we're always trying to why won't someone think of the children? I am the last person on earth to subscribe to the idea of 'progress,' but if it means anything, education would be it. Of course, the baby boomers were themselves baby boomers, and had babies and babies, so is it any surprise we're all over-educated but without jobs?
I mean, we're talking just numbers.

A point is this; in some respect, this is what we've been working for as a civilization. Sure, it's fucked a little, but that's because it's an experiment, and even the best experiments still end up with a few mice with seven or eight ears, or testicles the size of marbles, or who just generally crazy for inexplicable reasons. Sure, even the 'successful' among us, we are a selfish and disgusting and often cynical-to-the-point-of-making-asses-of-ourselves bunch - and I'm a victim of as a severe weltschmertz as anyone else on MeFi - but we do, as a society, have at least a modicum of a sense of working toward a better future, and better is usually understood to mean a better standard of living for all, more freedom, a more empathetic society, a sustainable society, a community-minded society, a learned and cultured and artful society. Is it that much of a surprise that more and more so-called 'gen-Y' people are getting educated (because previous generations have made that possible for more of us), starting non-profits (because the framework has been laid), or working for, if not increasingly socially engaged then at least increasingly accountable for-profit companies? Oh yeah, most of it is still majorly fucked, but still.

Of course, this outcome could have very possibly arisen simply because of the exponential nature of population growth, babies and babies and babies, just forcing us to figure out how to live closer to one another, which one would think would by nature lead to increased concern for economic and social equality, civic participation, just generally giving a shit because now it all affects you in an immediate way. I mean, living closer together means an increase in all the fucked up shit, like rape and murder and crazy bombing shit as well, but the idea is to try and swing it more toward the other end of the spectrum, which we're sort of (?) doing?

What was my fucking point. Oh yeah; my bosses' boss once told me that she learned at a conference that the defining trait of the Gen-Y person was that they knew they were right about everything and that everything would get on so much better if we would just do it their way god dammit, it's so simple, don't you see? So yeah, I'm right and all you fuckers are full of shit! Gen-Y for Life! as if I had a choice, ahem.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:24 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Unless it is perfectly right to quit your job because you can't get a day off to attend a show?

Sheesh. You're having "countless meetings" about this? Perhaps you're in the weaker position and should just give the kid the day off.
posted by ryanrs at 9:27 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I had no idea these metafilter members I've been observing over the years are the same age as me. Huh.
posted by clockzero at 9:31 PM on February 24, 2010


This research revealed another very scary statistic. They said the college students who graduate during a bad economy typically suffer long term consequences that can affect their careers and earnings for as long as 15 years

Well shit, I could have told them that. On the bright side we are the smallest generation and the Millennials are huuuuge so they'll be supporting us in our old ages!

I find it hard to beleive that the Gen X is the most Republican generation too? Really?
posted by fshgrl at 9:33 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


· Generation X (30 to 44) includes some of the strongest support for Republicans. For whatever reasons, the Democratic over Republican gap among Generation Xers, particularly those ages 37 to 43 at the heart of this generation, is on a relative basis much closer to parity than for any other age group with the exception of those in their late 60s.

...and a bunch of other statistics at the link.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:51 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think there is a huge difference between people who graduated in th booming 80s and the sucking early 90s in politics and generally everything. Gen "X" seems like it's a couple of distinct groups to me.
posted by fshgrl at 10:09 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think there is a huge difference between people who graduated in th booming 80s and the sucking early 90s in politics and generally everything. Gen "X" seems like it's a couple of distinct groups to me.

Agreed.

I don't think any study is accurately viewing the millennial generation fairly. How can they? We all have cell phones!
posted by parmanparman at 11:13 PM on February 24, 2010


If the Millennial cohort is so fantastic, then why are they perceived as being so dreadfully unprepared for integrating into the workforce? [video link of three commentators, taken from this Atlantic Monthly article, what was recently discussed on MeFi.]

My own experience with 19-25 year olds (which is limited but not zero) are that they mostly all seem to have special snowflake syndrome, are incapable of creating a list of tasks required to do when given a final goal to accomplish, and have very little consideration for basic courtesy such as keeping appointments or following through with promised communication. How much of that is because they are part of this cohort and how much of that is that they are basically still children, I have not determined.
posted by hippybear at 1:56 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem isn't solely with the 19-25 year olds! There are a ton of Baby Boomers in management and leadership positions with little or no actual managerial skills, promoted solely due to seniority. Good managers would find ways to balance the need for feedback, and preferably explain to new hires "how things are done here," in such a way to explain that the workplace culture is that "no news is good news."

Of course, when Boomers entered the workplace, the prevailing culture was, "You'll spend 6 months fetching coffee and you'll like it, but work hard and you'll be here for a long time!" The culture we hit in the workplace is, "You're going to be treated as unmotivated cattle and unallowed to take any sort of initiative, while also being on tenterhooks the entire time because corporate prefers hiring temps to actually hiring employees."

That, and I hope I'm not unfairly characterizing Boomers too much, but we work faster. We want daily or weekly feedback because with the advent of computers, a lot more can get done in the workweek, and that includes more possibility for fucking up. Growing up with computers and the Internet, I type faster, handle e-mail faster, know how to Google shit, etc. compared to the 40-60 set that I work with. They have the experience and knowledge, but I have the speed and youthful energy. If I'm "doing it wrong," I'd like to know sooner rather than have to fix an entire semester's worth of mistakes because no one bothered to say anything.
posted by explosion at 4:50 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


So anyone tired yet of a bunch of people who grew up during a historical accident when the job market was wide open, the economy unnaturally booming due to being the only major country to survive WW2 in tact, and the government doing the insane thing of giving huge chunks of the population houses and education and social support - clucking their tongues at people for not being as instantly successful as them or even mentioning that things are different now? AGAIN (cause damn this article could have been written in 1991, just swap the names. )
posted by The Whelk at 6:05 AM on February 25, 2010 [26 favorites]


So anyone tired yet of a bunch of people who grew up during a historical accident when the job market was wide open, the economy unnaturally booming due to being the only major country to survive WW2 in tact, and the government doing the insane thing of giving huge chunks of the population houses and education and social support - clucking their tongues at people for not being as instantly successful as them or even mentioning that things are different now? AGAIN (cause damn this article could have been written in 1991, just swap the names. )

This. This This This This This This This.
(I was born in 1981)
posted by rollbiz at 6:39 AM on February 25, 2010


I really don't think that the c1975-1980 people can be characterized as gen-X or gen-Y. We're neither the downslope of the demographic bulge that began with the baby-boomers and which peaked in about 1960, nor the demographic echo -- rather, it was a nadir in births around this time. Too young to be gen-X, DEFINITELY too old to be millennials (I remember using a typewriter, for gosh sakes, and when cell phones or pagers were only owned by doctors and drug dealers).

There are lots of 1/2 generations like this -- for instance, the actual bulge of the baby-boom are those born c1957-1960. This is the demographic baby-boom, but it's not the cultural baby-boom -- they were children in the 60s, and were more likely to be playing with an easy bake oven than attending Woodstock. They came of age in the late 70s and early 80s -- some benefitted from the growth of the mid-late 80s, others lost their first house in the recession of the early 80s.

Demographics do matter a lot -- being on the upswing of a demographic trend, like the baby echo, is better than being on the downswing, because there are fewer people in the years just older than you.

Provided the banks don't cause a financial meltdown and unnecessary war and tax-cutting hasn't bankrupted your government, of course. If the Democrats excel at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, the primary talent of the Republicans is frittering away any advance in deficit fighting and economic development.
posted by jb at 7:19 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Another 1981-er here. I tend to identify with Gen X, and I have a theory - I think that which "generation" the halvsies like us tend to fit with has more to do with how old your parents are than anything. I have 40-year-old friends whose parents are the same age as mine, and I get along with them much better than the 28-year-olds whose parents aren't yet 50.

It's just a theory, but it seems to be the pattern in my life.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:28 AM on February 25, 2010


I say we born in 1980-types should get our own generation. With blackjack! And hookers!

How about Texas Hold 'Em and Craigslist instead?
posted by Theta States at 7:44 AM on February 25, 2010


'How do we motivate people who don't see work as anything but a way to fund their band and who will quit in a tantrum?

Good pay, health benefits, and job security.



Oh dear lord, I suddenly realized how much I love my low-key systems analyst desk job!
Thanks for making my day. :)
posted by Theta States at 7:49 AM on February 25, 2010


There are lots of 1/2 generations like this -- for instance, the actual bulge of the baby-boom are those born c1957-1960. This is the demographic baby-boom, but it's not the cultural baby-boom -- they were children in the 60s, and were more likely to be playing with an easy bake oven than attending Woodstock.

That seems late to me. Wikipedia seems to think that birthrates began declining by '57. In fact, I'm a bit surprised by the way the ages for those grouped by these terms slowly creeps down--I was under the impression that Generation X started just after the boom until some hazy point in the mid 70s (being a Douglas Coupland fan, I've always figured that if someone could have actually been in their twenties when the book Generation X was released, one was probably part of that generation--which would make me, and my sister, who is in her early 30s now, too young).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:00 AM on February 25, 2010


Hey… a millennial… that’s me!

Welp, it’s good to hear that I’m such a cheery sort. And damn nice guy to boot! Always willing to express myself, and not put off by crushing unemployment, or the death-cult of Reagan that my parents subscribe to. It’s nice, at least, to be a digital native, so that I can explain technology to the glossing over eyes of the baby boomer generation, which raised a generation of kids who will die significantly poorer than they will. I’m happy to help them Tweet their wills, and Blog their bucket lists, so long as they toss me the scraps of the world they still own whole-heartedly. And it’s just peachy to hear about all of the cool shit that they did. All of those free drugs, and free sex, and free money that they got in the 60’s, and then in the 70’s… and the 80’s, and the 90’s, and the 2000’s. I mean, looking at where they were coming from with that 60’s counter culture where they were able to rebel against the man while looking yet still suspiciously like the man themselves, and all the while without a hint of hypocrisy or self loathing, since they were the “me” generation, and sucks to anyone else. So long as you’re firmly individuated, mom and pop.

But that’s fine. At least us happy-go-lucky millennials have our facebooks and our youtubes so we can make snarky comments about billion dollar rewards for sinking our economy, and a planet that’s slowly farting itself to death.

Ok, maybe I’m a little bitter, and nihilistic, and constantly drunk. The death of the middle class is a little off-putting, I must admit, especially since that middle-classness was paid for with such horror in the third world. But what’s even more off-putting is how my parents, God bless them (don’t really believe in the big fellow, just an expression, you know), are so consistently wrong. It’s not like they’re trying to lie to me, or anything, it’s just that… well, they don’t seem terribly bright. It doesn’t matter what degree you get, so long as you get one, they told me. Buy land, they told me in 2006. Those weapons of mass destruction were just moved to Syria, certainly they existed. America is the greatest country on Earth. Climate change isn’t happening, it’s snowing! Plus Al Gore has a jet, did you know that?
I can do better with my own family, I suppose. Or maybe not. The only good thing I can think of doing for a child at this point is not having one. Enjoy the bliss of non-existence, little me.

Well, if not a family then at least my education. That I’m still paying for. Baudilliard is, at the very least, a great comfort as I sit in my shit-hole apartment that I can barely pay for with a job that I had to scrape and grovel for so that if I get horribly injured I don’t end up in a Dickensian debtors’ prison.

Plus we got Barack into office. Good for us. Change I can believe in, indeed!

Oh… well, this has just come out making me look like an asshole, hasn’t it? Blaming earlier generations for all of my ills, and seemingly unwilling to make any positive change myself – unless ceaseless bitching and carping counts. But, as they say, the smaller the stakes the meaner the fight. And, don’t you know it, I’m feeling pretty fucking mean right about now.
posted by codacorolla at 8:06 AM on February 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


At this point the slow car crash of civilization should at least be entertaining and colorful, a world-wide Olympics of crazy.
posted by The Whelk at 8:10 AM on February 25, 2010


I will set aside my beliefs and goals so as to better confirm to the Pew Research Center's vision of who I am.
posted by Football Bat at 8:24 AM on February 25, 2010


Pew! pew! pew!
posted by The Whelk at 8:27 AM on February 25, 2010


So I've spent my adult live surfing from art school to artist, back and forth. 20 years as a slacker. I got a fine art and design degree, both of which I have used in my career, but I did have more downtime that I wanted. I have to say that if it wasn't for the dotcom days the genXers would have it rather bleak. I know I would have. I had goals and worked my ass off, I am sure my parents thought I felt entitled.

Now seeing millennials in academic art school redefine entitlement. They assume a fine art degree will give them every bit of financial success and security that of a business degree, and they won't have to take math classes. They confidently present work that should not even be hung on a refrigerator. They lash out at anyone that gives constructive criticism. When they can't find a job they want to go to grad school.

There are some great ones, but for the most part, those in art school are becoming more and more professional waitstaff. I don't see anything on the horizon like the dotcom days that will give the millennials a break.
posted by agent of bad karma at 8:32 AM on February 25, 2010


This explains why the Baffler has finally released a new issue.
posted by bonecrusher at 8:54 AM on February 25, 2010


In Iceland the generation born in the 70s (and this definition is sometimes extended to people born in the 80s) are referred to as krúttkynslóðin...

I just IM'ed an Icelandic friend about this. He typed out an energetic stream of "haha's" and said, "Yeah, that's the generation that gave us a cute little bankruptcy, too."

(Also, I once heard an interesting quote, but can't find the source. It went something like, "When GenX rebel, they start bands. When the Millennials rebel, they start companies.")
posted by functionequalsform at 8:59 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Unless it is perfectly right to quit your job because you can't get a day off to attend a show?

I quit a job to see a show. It was AC/DC, back in 1990. I also bought a car for that show (a $300 Ford Escort, IIRC) because my buddy offered to give me the ticket for free if I could get him there, but he wouldn't ride on the back of my motorcycle which was, at that time, my sole means of transportation.

Quitting jobs to go to concerts should be a right of passage for every generation.
posted by quin at 9:22 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are some great ones, but for the most part, those in art school are becoming more and more professional waitstaff. I don't see anything on the horizon like the dotcom days that will give the millennials a break.

Fair enough on the former, although to be equitable, I remember being an art student at roughly the same time you were and having the same thing said to us, and they were partly right.

As far as the latter goes, hardly anyone saw the dotcom days coming except for either the visionaries or the exceedingly lucky.

I feel for the kids coming up these days. Between Simon Cowell and porn on your phone they have infinitely faster access to the banality of life then we ever did.

Good ole self medicating, Beer in parking lots, smoking indoors, beepers, marijuana, grunge and quality rap seem almost quaint next to antidepressants on demand, prescription painkiller addictions at 13, oxycontin, youtube, celebrity obsessions, mob rules narcissism, and a far more corporate controlled culture that these kids have now.

In many ways, some things are better. In many other, things are much worse.
posted by Hickeystudio at 9:25 AM on February 25, 2010


PhoB -- My original dates come from a discussion of Canadian demographics, and our book went a little later than the American.

But taking a closer look at your link, it seems that my estimate was not so far off. It's true that American birth rates began to decline after 1957 -- but if you look at the graph in your link, that decline was only a little blip and they went up again to peak a little higher about 1962, and then to fall sharply to about 1968. Then a sharp mini-boom up c1971-2 (free love? they needed more condoms), and then down again to a post-1950 nadir between about 1973 and 1977 (demographics, or economy? -- also, all years estimated, because read graphs without vertical lines is hard). I was born in that nadir -- that makes me neither Gen X -- Xers born on the downswing and coming into the workforce right on the heels of the boom -- nor boom-echo.

My point was that the people we commonly think of as "the babyboomers" are those people who were born c1945-55, were teenagers in the 1960s and listened to the Beatles, were drafted to Vietnam and/or protested against the war and went to Woodstock. But if you look at the graph, this generation was only the beginning of the baby boom - it was only about '54 or '55 that the trend goes above 4mill births per year. The peak of the boom is centered around c1958 -- though the distribution is left-shifted because the boom ended faster than it began. My mom was born in that first peak in 1957 -- and has always denied being a baby-boomer because she felt so left out of what was being culturally defined as the "boom" because she was 12 when Woodstock happened.

Maybe this seems like a silly argument, but it isn't -- where you are in the demographics changes your experience. People in the up-swing or at the top of the bulge come into a job market -- or a housing market -- where there are fewer people ahead of them than behind them. Whereas those on the downswing come into markets where a lot of people just proceeded them. If you are trying to get a job or buy a house, coming into an environment where you are 2-10 years behind a lot of people is hard.

Of course, this is ignoring the economic conditions which themselves don't match demographic -- a lot of early Gen Xers actually graduated in the late 80s or just before the crash in the 1990s and weren't so badly off. And a lot of the first people of the boom-echo graduated into the brilliant economy of the post-tech bubble, post-9/11 world, which wasn't exactly getting them on their feet right away -- though not as bad as the current economy.

I also think it's funny that we have this image of baby-boomers as 60's teenagers, 80's 30-year olds and now retiring -- when at least 1/2 (or more? would have to get the areas of the graph) were 15 or less in 1969, only just turned 30 in 1985, and are now only about 55. They aren't of Clinton's or Bush's (both born in 1946) generation -- they are only 5 years older than Obama.
posted by jb at 10:57 AM on February 25, 2010


PhoB -- I agree that you, your sister and I (I'm also in my early 30s) are all too young to be GenX. Maybe the cultural definitions are what make sense -- I know that I was too young to be an early 90s slacker because I was still worrying about high school dances. I wasn't going to grunge concerts - but of course, that might have been because I was spending all my money on Star Trek novels instead.
posted by jb at 11:01 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


The capacity for cognitive dissonance in these threads is always funny.

"Damn, my parents called me lazy and moronic! You know who's really lazy and moronic? Kids today!"
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:19 PM on February 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


functionequalsform: I just IM'ed an Icelandic friend about this. He typed out an energetic stream of "haha's" and said, "Yeah, that's the generation that gave us a cute little bankruptcy, too."

Grrrrrrrr...

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr...

Yup. They did things like come with the IceSave idea and marketed it in the UK and Holland. On the other hand, Sigur Rós are of Krúttkynslóðin, so there's that.
posted by Kattullus at 1:28 PM on February 25, 2010


Eh, I refuse to be called entitled by the generation that thinks the best reward for rising tuition is unpaid internships. The employment they say is a booming industry I should study for is the poorly paid 'home care specialists' for old people. Every job, but one, that I've ever gotten was in the service industry. Basically I'm in the position of my great-grandmother, in the sense that my career options are various kinds of servant. It's not the end of the world, but I'd rather not be accused of being a 'special snow flake'.
posted by Phalene at 1:52 PM on February 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


When we Millenials vote for somebody like Reagan or Bush (twice), gut the American social safety net because we don't want to pay taxes, deregulate everything, ship every decently-paying job in the country overseas so that all that remains is service and retail, and then trigger Depression 2.0, you can get on our ass for being entitled.

Until then, BACK THE FUCK OFF.
posted by zjacreman at 4:24 PM on February 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't get the entitled thing at all, all the 20-year olds I know work like fiends for low or no pay. It's like someone complaining about all the redheads around and I'm going "uh, everyone I know is bald."
posted by The Whelk at 4:45 PM on February 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


My boss's 22yro sister asked him for a loan of $5k last week as she had just quite her job because she got into a 1yr course at TAFE to study Public Relations.
Three days later she had accepted a job offer at one of her old organisation's competitors.
So she dropped out of her course after three days, went shopping to get herself a present for landing a new job and called up friends to have an all night party to celebrate her 'funemployment' until she starts on Monday.
Now I'm fine with 22yr olds being flighty and impulsive but it sure looks pretty entitled.
posted by bystander at 11:02 PM on February 25, 2010


When we Millenials vote for somebody like Reagan or Bush (twice), gut the American social safety net because we don't want to pay taxes, deregulate everything, ship every decently-paying job in the country overseas so that all that remains is service and retail, and then trigger Depression 2.0, you can get on our ass for being entitled.

Until then, BACK THE FUCK OFF.


I know, it hurts, and I'm probably overly bitter. All I know is that when I graduated from a Seven Sister in the early nineties and temped while my friends worked retail or at Starbucks because there wasn't much else (and marched on Washington and demonstrated lots of "engaged" behaior, BTW), we weren't praised to the moon, we were called Slackers. Of course, the uniform may have contributed to the label, but as far as I can tell, the only real difference is that we weren't born with silver ipods up our *sses. It's a coddling thing, and lack thereof.
posted by njbradburn at 6:43 AM on February 26, 2010


I haven't really thought about the consequences of this in detail, but it seems like there's one pretty important difference between Gen X and the Millennials that nobody has mentioned yet:

As Generation X grew up, it was pretty much assumed that the world would end in a nuclear holocaust during our lifetimes. The Millennials' formative years came after the Cold War; Threads or On the Beach scenarios seem as quaint as Reefer Madness.
posted by nicepersonality at 7:17 AM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Replace nuclear holocaust with Water Wars or Ecological collapse or the continuing militarization of daily life.
posted by The Whelk at 7:20 AM on February 26, 2010


It doesn’t matter what degree you get, so long as you get one, they told me.
This. If you're looking for a reason why we don't care about work, consider that everything we were told about work in the first place was balls. If any of the crap they told me in school was true, I'd be 7 years into a good career by now. Disillusioned? Oh yes.
Pew! pew! pew!
Thank god I wasn't the only one thinking this!
posted by Lucien Dark at 10:03 AM on February 26, 2010


Gen X and the Millennials that nobody has mentioned yet:

As Generation X grew up, it was pretty much assumed that the world would end in a nuclear holocaust during our lifetimes. The Millennials' formative years came after the Cold War; Threads or On the Beach scenarios seem as quaint as Reefer Madness.


Well, yes, but it's hardly like life is sunshine and puppy dogs now. Millennials' formative years came during the Bush administration, for instance.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:34 PM on February 26, 2010


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