A Solid Foundation for Fascism?
March 2, 2006 7:34 PM   Subscribe

Emory University study describes the Millenial Generation An interesting comparison of Gen Xers and the so-called Millenial Generation, born since 1982, from Emory University. The M.Gen kids apparently want to do good, as long as there is a clear structure and leadership that tells them how and what to do . . . oh, and don't question the leaders. Really. Why would you?
posted by pt68 (67 comments total)
As someone born in 1982, I guess I am sqarely between the Gen Xers and the M.Gen. What does that say about me? I'm just fucked up, I guess.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:41 PM on March 2, 2006

Interesting Title, there. Don't fear the children, dood.
posted by hackly_fracture at 7:42 PM on March 2, 2006

Are they just... making it up? I mean:

"...A lot of the things that people perceived as problematic outcomes as the result of how GenXers were raised – latch key kids, lots of autonomy, lots of freedom, not a lot of attention to their care and well being – was completely reversed with the Millennials..."

Uh, no. Not really. Not in my experience. Maybe I've been living in the wrong area, but us so-called Millenials have plenty of that. Perhaps moreso than GenX. I grew up in a household with both parents, and they are still married and living together, and in that I am the minority amongst my friends and acquaintances. I was born in 1984, so maybe I'm too GenX or something.
posted by Auguris at 7:44 PM on March 2, 2006

Any article that attempts to generalize about millions and millions of people is going to be inaccurate -- I can't really see what's going on here.....Guess what? You've still got kids who want to retire at 35 (be it investment banking or in tech). You've still got kids who want to do the Peace Corps and then become a high school teacher......

Amazingly and surprisingly, people are still people and in a capitalist society -- replete with its choices -- you've got a mix of everything.

And Auguris -- I can completely understand -- I'm a GenXer but my sister was born in the mid-80s -- I'm not really sure there was "a complete reversing of care" between her and I. Well, she did get a cooler car than I did in high school....
posted by skepticallypleased at 7:49 PM on March 2, 2006

"[T]his generation has been told their whole lives that they’re special, they’re privileged, and it’s their duty to give back." ... Sense of personal responsibility may be lower.

"[U]nbelievable achievement in terms of individuals and clubs gathering together to make things happen." ... "[T]hey’re very reliant on people to tell them what they need to do."

But I was born in 1986, so what do I know?
posted by booksandlibretti at 7:52 PM on March 2, 2006

we haven't had that spirit here since 1979
posted by nervousfritz at 7:52 PM on March 2, 2006

Can we please stop calling people "Gen whatever"?
It's retarded.
posted by nightchrome at 7:59 PM on March 2, 2006

Why are you young folks so obedient, anyway? what's up with that?
posted by amberglow at 8:05 PM on March 2, 2006

ditto, auguris.
i'm '84 and my sister is '73. two different generational stereotypes, but i'm not sure we were raised all that differently. i had freedom and autonomy in spades, probably more than she did. of course i'm just one person and i do agree that our generation is coddled to a ridiculous degree, but the facts seemed a bit off to me. is '84 too close to the cusp? or is polling 24 year olds and 8 year olds in the same survey just going to confuse the results? i don't know. i'm not convinced.
posted by timory at 8:06 PM on March 2, 2006

I think I can speak for the "Millennials" when I say:

posted by blacklite at 8:07 PM on March 2, 2006

putting this post together with jfuller's
From Foreign Policy, Patriarchy's Big Comeback
makes for very scary reading.
posted by amberglow at 8:08 PM on March 2, 2006

Yet another idiot "expert" pigeonholing an entire generation. I guess he's from Generation Retarded.
posted by cellphone at 8:09 PM on March 2, 2006

BTW born in 82
posted by cellphone at 8:11 PM on March 2, 2006

Nearly 70% of Millennials agreed with the statement that “Authority figures should set and enforce rules” – compared to around 40% of GenXers.
60% of Millennials agreed with the statement, “I trust authority figures to act in my best interest.” Only 40% of GenXers agreed.
Nearly 60% of Millennials said they “felt comfortable asking for special treatment,” while only 40% of GenXers felt that way.

These are the only actual numbers in that entire article. The rest is a bunch of "people are saying," "these things have been happening," and "this one person said" kinda stuff.

Doesn't the BBC or somebody have a Fake Trend Watch blog where they look out for this sort of thing?
posted by Afroblanco at 8:16 PM on March 2, 2006

Doesn't the BBC or somebody have a Fake Trend Watch blog where they look out for this sort of thing?

Strauss and Howe were talking about this when you guys were in kindergarten--it's not a fake trend, but a clear difference, based on what was going on in society and the attitudes towards and attention paid to children (as opposed to during the 50s, 60s, and 70s --altho not really opposed to the 50s, which was another really pro-parent, "society really cares about and is focusing on kids" time)
posted by amberglow at 8:20 PM on March 2, 2006

"Interesting Title, there. Don't fear the children, dood."

I just added a question mark onto the subject heading as it was sent to me . . .
And while I don't think too much should be made in general about such a study, when the elites study the elites (which I think is what lies beneath this study), it is worth a gander . . . birds of a feather . . . ?
posted by pt68 at 8:21 PM on March 2, 2006

As somebody stuck in a class full of them, I'd just like to say Millenials suck.
posted by keswick at 8:22 PM on March 2, 2006

Huh, I was born in 1980. I didn't like being a called a "gen-Xer" but this new batch seems even lamer.

Otoh, it makes more sense to group me as a millennial, since a lot of my friends and members of my "peer group" are all like that. I grew up with Nintendo in my childhood, not my adolescence, for example.

Groups are more generally defined by the people at the beginning, not the end.

Also, my guess is this is just a bunch of biz-school BS.
posted by delmoi at 8:31 PM on March 2, 2006

Heh. Sheep.
posted by c13 at 8:33 PM on March 2, 2006


Man, this generation has taken so long to find a decent name for itself.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:41 PM on March 2, 2006

If true, it is so time to start a religion.
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:42 PM on March 2, 2006

As a "millennial," I am going to go ahead and say that I have a healthy dose of skepticism towards institutions and authorities.

That said, I have seen statistics saying that my generation is more conservative than its parents', et cetera.
posted by anjamu at 8:45 PM on March 2, 2006

What a crock. I can recall pretty much every single claim made about so-called 'millennials' in the workplace having previously been made about GenX-ers, eg valuing flexibility, diversity, social responsibility in corporations, not working for work's sake, etc.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:46 PM on March 2, 2006

Well, why wouldn't they trust our leaders?
posted by homunculus at 8:54 PM on March 2, 2006

but Ubu, Gen Xers were also not optimistic, or as boy-scoutish as this crowd is said to be. Gen Xers were slackers--this crowd is highly motivated, and expects to make a difference in the world, also unlike Xers. Xers also aren't team players the way millenials are. There's a whole different outlook.
posted by amberglow at 9:16 PM on March 2, 2006

My skepticism about this article derives from it's lack of statistical citings. All of this comes from a study? Well, studies have numbers, right? Where are the numbers, then?

Either it's a crap study, or a crap article about a valid study.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:25 PM on March 2, 2006

"Gen-x"ers are in their early 30's, now, right?... and are considering their mortality/lost years/etc. "Millenials" are still in the early 20's and think that the world owes them something.

Born in '78 - I feel really in between. The 80's didn't really influence me as I was a little young to buy into the media of the time. I find that I have very little in common with people born after 1980 who were generally into media that I, at the time, thought was lame or childish or whatever.

Are there any media types who'd like to spotlike us interstitials (or whatever)?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 9:26 PM on March 2, 2006

-this crowd is highly motivated, and expects to make a difference in the world

I hope I'm still around to watch their shiny brightfaced optimism get shattered by cold, hard, reality. Oh man, that'll be fucking great.
posted by keswick at 9:27 PM on March 2, 2006

Millenials. Tee hee. Sorry you got stuck with such a shitty name. Oh, and sorry you'll live to see your kids fight in wars over water. Bummer.
posted by slatternus at 9:28 PM on March 2, 2006

Both their music sucks.
posted by HTuttle at 9:52 PM on March 2, 2006

amberglow - I think the slacker stereotype of GenXers is overstated by many. The central issue is more about not working for its own sake. Slacking is one way out. Being motivated & working for a cause is another. I know heaps of GenXers who specifically & consciously set out to work with the disadvantaged, for human rights organisations, with NGOs, etc. Others are heavily involved in animal rights or environmental politics. Few would ever work for an "evil" company.

I still see similar characteristics in both of these stereotypes - idealistic youth who are educated & confident enough to feel they can do what they like, including trying to make a difference in the world.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:59 PM on March 2, 2006

"... as long as there is a clear structure and leadership that tells them how and what to do ..."

The plus side: when I yell at them to "get off the damn lawn!", they will.

The down side: they'll probably need step-by-step instructions.
posted by Pinback at 10:07 PM on March 2, 2006

Strauss and Howe rock. If you haven't read their books you should. Recommend start with "4th turning". Most of these press blurbs don't explain it.

Hollywood, advertising agencies, etc. are huge Strauss and Howe devotees, once you know the S&H "generations" system, you'll see its impact on culture everywhere. Right are wrong, you are being targeted, and perhaps even molded.
posted by stbalbach at 10:21 PM on March 2, 2006

Do you mean, right OR wrong?
posted by gsb at 10:39 PM on March 2, 2006

I thought 1982-2000 was already referred to as "Generation Y"?
posted by Plinko at 11:04 PM on March 2, 2006

Why do they make these "generations" so big?
A kid born in 2002 isn't going to have damn thing in common with someone who is in _college_ in 2002.

Oh, and for the record, Millienials are a bunch of pampered, over-indulged whiners who should stay the hell off my lawn.
posted by madajb at 12:30 AM on March 3, 2006

I hope I'm still around to watch their shiny brightfaced optimism get shattered by cold, hard, reality.

especially when they find older leaders who will help them take that reality and change it ... make no mistake ... this generation will change the world in a way neither the boomers or x'ers have managed ... it could lead to fascism ... or it could lead to a better way of doing things

the boomers got shattered because they were too narcissistic and disorganized to accomplish what they really wanted to ... they're almost in charge now and what do we hear? ... a lot of bickering

the x'ers are either confused or warily trying out things they know will work, because they were born shattered

the millenials grew up in a world where they were taught to work together for the common good ... when they discover that their work together doesn't result in a common good, watch out ... they'll start insisting that they will work together for the common good, whether some of us like it or not

read strauss and howe's books ... there's quite a lot of statistical backup and historical observation on this
posted by pyramid termite at 12:32 AM on March 3, 2006

Ooooh - which pigeonhole can I occupy? Pick me! Pick me!

What a load of turd this is. I think you'll find that pretty much everyone in the West is either of Generation "Meh", Generation "Fear" or Generation "Haven't worked out how complex the world is yet".

Which one are you?
posted by longbaugh at 2:03 AM on March 3, 2006

Being born in 1985, I seem to live between Generation X and this new generation. I disagree with those of you that pooh-pooh the existence of generational compartamentalization -- I really do feel as though a generational gap exists, as it's visible not only between those younger/older, but since I was born squarely in the gap, it's easy to categorize those who are part of Gen X and the Millennials amongst those my age and this generation gap is exhibited in a certain difference in mindset and motivation. I do tend to identify with a certain Generation X mindset.

Generation X appears to be interested in ideals, morality, and the future. The failure of that idealism breeds cynicism. This new generation just wants money. The word "GREED" has been completely removed from the vocabulary of the youth. I think this generation, while more hardworking, will be less productive than the previous. Why? They lack a certain creative spark. I don't know why that is and where it came from, but I cannot see the next generation able to produce something as amazing as the information revolution. The closest reason I can think of is the next generation doesn't have what I would describe as a geeky interest in their work. They're purely interested in the money, and that will NOT create positive/influential changes in society. SEE: Tool
posted by amuseDetachment at 2:47 AM on March 3, 2006

I wonder if the complete inability for this younger generation to read books and absorb complex ideas and thus effectively question themselves or their world is what's leading to these easily managed bright-faced young team players, who will naturally kill us all.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:24 AM on March 3, 2006

I have noticed a growing conservativism in younger people born between '85 and '90. I don't know if that's the way it really is or if I'm just biased, but it concerns me deeply.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:08 AM on March 3, 2006

Optimus, my hairdresser told me "it's a cumulative effect because of the Fluoridation Program." He's quite good at cutting and styling hair, so maybe he's right about that.
posted by gsb at 4:47 AM on March 3, 2006

I thought fluoridation was a Communist plot.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:52 AM on March 3, 2006

"Live. Work, huh? But. Only peoples. Peoples is peoples. No is buildings. Is tomatoes, huh? Is peoples, is dancing, is music, is potatoes. So, peoples is peoples. Okay?" -Pete, Muppets Take Manhattan
posted by teletype1 at 5:18 AM on March 3, 2006

As someone born in 1982, I guess I am squarely between the Gen Xers and the M.Gen. What does that say about me?

Despite the fact that the media likes to report hard boundaries, generations don't have them. What 1982 represents is the 50% line -- where half the birth year aligns with the previous cohort, and half, the following. The big factor in this is birth position -- a first child, born 1982, is much more likely to follow the later cohort, while a last child born in the same year is likely to follow their sibling, and stay with the previous cohort.

You can, of course, find dozens of examples of people not matching the general generation description. The words "Of course" leap to mind. This is statistical, you won't see 100% matches. You will, however, see enough matches that the influence is clear -- if 80% of the generation thinks following authority is clearly correct, that makes life different on the 20% who do not (via peer pressure) than a generation where 50% of the cohort feels the same.

Generation X, btw, was originally coined to describe the 1960-1965 birth years, who should have been the tail end of the boom (Generations typically last about 20-25 years) but were clearly acting differently that the rest of the boomer generation. (It was originally "generation X", as in "No name yet.)) When the 1966-1970 birthyears started to fit in with the 1960-1965 years, it became apparent that the reason for the change was that the Boom cohort's time spread was just shorter than normal -- 17 years -- leading to a new generation (named, alas, Generation X.)

The Boom's start point was pretty easy to define -- you were born at a time where you didn't have direct memory of WWII -- there are clear attitude differences, on large population scales, between those who remember WWII personally, and those who don't. Thus, 1943 makes a good year. 20-25 years would run the Boom generation to 1963-1968, but the 1960-1965 years aren't boomers -- statistically, as a group, they act very differently.

Why isn't very clear. Vietnam has been posited as a break point, but it doesn't match up nearly as nicely as WWII does (the fact that Vietnam was much "fuzzier" in terms of US civilian effects is one reason.)

It is also clear that there's another generation after Gen-X -- those born around 1982 and after act differently, as a group, then those born before. There's arguments that this generation has ended, and a new generation is starting, but one of the things you notice is that it's easy to see these breakpoints in the past, but not so easy when it is happening. (In 1943, you'd have no idea that a generation break was occurring -- hell, you weren't sure if and/or when the war was going to end.)

One could posit 9/11 as a breakpoint, thanks to the media coverage and the change in the US as a whole. But given that the earliest theoretical members would be about six years old right now -- that is, everyone who was too young to remember life before 9/11 -- they have hardly reached the age where they start influencing each other, which is the main sociological force that forms a generation. Not TV, not parents -- the generation itself.
posted by eriko at 5:44 AM on March 3, 2006

I always thought Generation X was so named because the Boomers were too self-centered to think of a good name for those born after them. I also have a hard time associating myself with that name. When I hear GenX I think of my sister - born in 82 - not myself, born in 74. There seems to be a really big difference between the kids born in the 70s vs. those born in the 80s. Really, really different. Lumping us all together as "Generation X" is a lazy-ass thing to do, and doesn't accurately reflect the differences between us.

How do I know the differences between 70s and 80s kids? I am a 70s kid. I teach the 80s kids. We have very little in common. Culture evolves so quickly now that the generations are splintering faster than they used to.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:34 AM on March 3, 2006

“It is not unusual for me to get an update from a Millennial graduate that starts with ‘You would have been so proud of me…’” Hershatter says.

Speaking for millennials everywhere, Hershatter is a tool. (Oh. And I invite pt68 to go fuck himself.)
posted by Tlogmer at 6:41 AM on March 3, 2006

eriko: wow. That was good.

Another factor that mixes up the boomers is, back in those days, things didn't match up between geographical areas. Back then, different places in the States were actually different. Much less so now. Trends today move across the country rapidly. Back then, it was easy to see a lag of years between, for example, NYC and small-town midwest.

I can testify to the big difference over ww2 awareness. I had a partner for awhile who remembered Pearl Harbor. BIG difference to another who was also older, but definitely Viet Nam era. (LOL Viet Nam isn't even in the spell check)
posted by Goofyy at 6:42 AM on March 3, 2006

Whoa Tlogmer,
Uhm, I just posted the fact that the study is out there. If you're getting hostile, that comes from conclusions you're drawing, not from anything I wrote.
(Oh. And I invite you to actually create a thoughtful argument about what bothers you rather than spewing lamebrained invective.)
posted by pt68 at 8:07 AM on March 3, 2006

Fuck you, study.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:31 AM on March 3, 2006

Y'all know that aggregate-level data are not meant to describe you, your friends or your anecdotes, right?
posted by aaronetc at 8:45 AM on March 3, 2006

Personally, I question how much of this generational thing becomes something of a self-fulfilling media-fuled prophesy. (A phenomena that goes back at least to the start of the 20th century.) Certainly there are political and demographic trends over time, but then you have this media culture screaming that your "generation" is defined by this pop-culture event so that pop-culture event. Over time, entre decades become viewed with a selective filter. The 60s are all hippies and Hendrix leaving little room for photos of my dad in a crew cut and my mom with Patty Duke hair. For some reason, I'm supposed to consider Kurt Cobain to be the defining tragedy of my generation, when I wasn't a fan of his music.

It starts as aggregate-level data, but then media groups latch on to the trends that benefit them and start saying, "this is the choice of a new generation." And then, people point to these trends as some emerent and "natural" phenomena arising from inevetable forces of economic, demographics and history.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:14 AM on March 3, 2006

My daughter's in the "Whatever" Generation.
posted by lathrop at 9:56 AM on March 3, 2006

born '81 here. people can complain and bitch all they want, but marketing shows it, and the numbers don't lie. this generation is the next big something (as in cash cow) for the economy, and will knock genX on its ass. just watch, that position you're vying for, some young pup will snatch it up excitedly and piss in your cereal, all while smiling. then he'll wonder why you hate his guts. steretypically, boomers don't trust Xers, and will give their throne over to the millenials in a heartbeat rather than those "liberal nobodies".
posted by prototype_octavius at 10:12 AM on March 3, 2006

Are there any media types who'd like to spotlike us interstitials (or whatever)?

I too was born in '78. What is there for us? We have no glib, all-encompassing label, no retro crazes designed solely for us. Sure, we get the occasional crumb thrown at us, a late-night Thundercats marathon or whatever, but these are just sops. Essentially, I was old enough to absorb knowledge of the early 80's but not old enough to participate. I feel as I will be forever lost, a crack in the floorboards of history. Thanks, parents, for being "responsible" and waiting to have kids. You screwed me.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 10:57 AM on March 3, 2006

To me, probably because of my proximity to computers, I see the widespread use of the internet as a defining point between myself and a younger generational group. Online services existed in a basically modem-based world up until the mid-1990s. Until that point, I knew friends who would message each other online, but they were still the outliers. After widespread internet access became available and the few remaining online services opened access to the web (and eventually directly TCP/IP) I'd argue there was a tipping point of content.

I think even kids my sister's age (born in 1984) were a lot more likely to be able to socialize online during middle and high school and have pretty much had the ability to buy things online as long as they've had personal money to spend.
posted by mikeh at 12:00 PM on March 3, 2006

Of course, super-broad generalizations ignore individuals, and of course individuals in whatever generations vay tremendously, but there is something to be said for broad trends caused by societal/ cultural changes in different years. This is important and emphasized because cohort effects are important to individuals.

The interesting thing about this stuff is that I've had high school teachers and college professors, mention the same thing, separately and over again about the "creative spark" that just isn't present in the kids born after the first couple years of the 80's...

Is it that their parents were too rich, pampered them, and didn't give them the work habits, and idea that they need to make something of themselves? Is it media? Do video games and TV cognitively skew the traditional leisure/ work relationship so much that kids want to substitute towards as much leisure as possible because leisure is "better" than it was for previous generations, (this might explain why the just tell me what to do thing is strong: I want to finish so I can go do what I actually want to do!)"
posted by stratastar at 12:30 PM on March 3, 2006

I thought fluoridation was a Communist plot.

I guess it backfired.
posted by delmoi at 12:50 PM on March 3, 2006

boomers don't trust Xers, and will give their throne over to the millenials in a heartbeat rather than those "liberal nobodies".
We've known that for decades and decades now and we're ok with it--above us is a bigger generation of selfish asses, and now below us is another also bigger generation of asses, but they're smiling this time. I think most of us who fall inbetween have cobbled together some more realistic, healthier, and good ways of living that aren't about either an 80's "greed is good" thing nor some 00's "mary kate & ashley empire before you turn 20" thing. We're used to things not quite being fab nor ideal, and the way things are going, will get much more practice in it. ; >
posted by amberglow at 1:01 PM on March 3, 2006

Generation STFU
posted by AaronRaphael at 2:15 PM on March 3, 2006

Jesus, amberglow, you sound like a boomer. Yeah, Generation X sure is amazing.
posted by Snyder at 3:03 PM on March 3, 2006

Sigh. I was born in '86, and I don't even know what I am.
posted by 235w103 at 3:21 PM on March 3, 2006

mikeh nails it. it's the internet.
there are people alive now who don't remember a time without the internet. can you imagine?
posted by Miles Long at 4:36 PM on March 3, 2006

eriko: Thanks for a great post!

"Despite the fact that the media likes to report hard boundaries, generations don't have them. What 1982 represents is the 50% line -- where half the birth year aligns with the previous cohort, and half, the following. The big factor in this is birth position -- a first child, born 1982, is much more likely to follow the later cohort, while a last child born in the same year is likely to follow their sibling, and stay with the previous cohort."

This is one of the truest things I've seen posted about generational divisions in a while. Most posts (here and elsewhere) devolve into constant "well, I was born in 1982 and I don't identify with those generations at all so your numbers are WRONG!" bitchfests. (Look at the history page of Wikipedia's Generation X page for a prime example. The page has been bogged down for years with people who keep coming in just to change the dates on the generation because "my little brother is not a GenXer so how can you include his birth year? GenX needs to end right after MY birth year!")

Generations are blurry at the edges. And no generation's characteristics apply to 100% of its members. I wish people would understand this a little better.
posted by litlnemo at 4:55 PM on March 3, 2006

nah, we suck, but at least we don't think our shit smells like roses, unlike those in front of and after us.
posted by amberglow at 6:15 PM on March 3, 2006

Born in '92.... we haven't done enough to be named. But I hope we can pick are own name... something like generation Awesome or VeryVeryCool.

Is it only me or are generations getting smaller? every ten years is a new generation now?
posted by Suparnova at 10:41 AM on March 4, 2006

Not unless you guys are giving birth to the next generation when you were 10 years old! A generation by definition is rougly as long as it takes for the oldest members to come of age and start producing the next generation.
posted by litlnemo at 2:33 PM on March 4, 2006

« Older Atheism in Hinduism   |   Pedaling & Paddling Around America Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments