Turn Setbacks into Setups

Why Everyone Makes Fun Of Millenials

July 23, 2019

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Millennials are lazy. They’re poorly prepared for life. They have a terrible work ethic and no loyalty to their employers. They’re killing the housing, diamond, and car industries—or, alternatively, the American Dream itself.

If you’ve read anything from any news source in the past few years, you’ve probably heard at least one of these “facts.” Making fun of Millennials is the new national pastime, and everyone’s keen to participate—which means that the Millennial generation is one of the most heavily stereotyped generations alive today. And unfortunately, most of those stereotypes are negative.

But are Millennials really as bad as all that? Maybe you’re struggling to understand this new generation, or you’re a member yourself (and working not to sell yourself short). Either way, it’s important to understand the pervasive labels we spring on this generation…and why we shouldn’t write Millennials off just yet.

Shaking Off the Stereotypes

What most of us forget, especially when another funny millennial meme hits our feed, is that The Millennial generation, or “Gen Y,” includes a huge range of people. By definition, Millennials are everyone born between 1981 and 1996. That’s over 80 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And this group is just as varied as all the generations that have come before, or that will come after. (Worth noting, of course: in terms of ethnic diversity, Millennials are 44 percent minority, making them the most diverse generation in U.S. history.)

So when you envision a lazy, entitled person living in their parents’ basement, remember that all those Millennial “facts” are just stereotypes. They pigeonhole an intensely diversified generation into a corner. And often, they’re just plain wrong.

The Characteristics of the Millennial Generation

Millennials have it tough. Healthcare, housing, and education have skyrocketed since their parents’ time, and wages have been stagnating for decades. There are fewer steady jobs. The world Gen Y has inherited is a difficult one to navigate—although they still get a lot of flack just for trying.

Even so, Millennials are resolute in the values that drive them. They seek meaningful work, especially things that will impact a society they see as intensely flawed. They crave one-on-one attention, reassurance that they’re doing well. They want to stay connected, whether that’s online or in person, to their family and friends. They’re quick with technology and very likely to become the most educated generation in US history, according to the Pew Research Center. And they question everything: institutions, the government at large, and authority itself. 

For older generations, some of these common characteristics can make Millennials hard to understand—but it doesn’t have to be that way. Much has been said about mixing Millennials and Baby Boomers in the workplace melting pot, but the truth is that each generation has a lot to learn (and benefit!) from each other. And each individual has a lot to learn from other individuals. Regardless of your views, with Millennials becoming the fastest-growing segment of the workforce, employers can no longer afford to ignore them. 

So for anyone wondering how to interact with the Millennial stereotype, or worried what will happen to the world once Gen Y takes over—don’t be. Try to see yourself in the person across from you, to see them as an individual with their own values and characteristics. You might just be surprised at what you find.

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