Why Millennials Hate Being Called Millennials —Written by a Millennial
I have a joke with my employees where every time someone refers to us as “millennials” we take a sip of an imaginary cocktail. I’ve been imaginary drunk for weeks now it feels like.
I had never been called a “millennial,” before I started working at a larger (and older) consumer goods company. At all my other jobs I had just been tagged as an“employee” or a “co-worker” or a “habitual troublemaker.” So hearing my identity reduced to a generational age range was a new experience for me. Now to be fair there are plenty of times where it’s all in good fun and believe me, no one enjoys a good millennial joke more than me. However, I noticed every time the term millennial was dropped it was associated with something negative.
Now what do I mean by using millennial in a negative way? A prime example of this was one day I was running a little late for work due to an accident and walked in around 8:30. As I sat down and plugged in for the day a co-worker passed me and said: “Typical millennial, rolling into the office whenever you feel like it.” Now I would absolutely consider this person (who no longer works at my company) a bit of an a-hole so I took it with a grain of salt.
Numbers don’t lie:
But, what I started noticing was that this example was just one of many times I heard the term “millennial” associated with something I had done in a negative.
I look down at my phone in a meeting, someone makes the comment about millennials being tied to their phones.
Wear skinny jeans to work? I’m just a hipster millennial trying to undermine a corporate culture of professionalism.
Promote the benefits of a work from home day every week? I just want to avoid work.
And after a while, I start becoming sub-consciously defensive when I heard the term millennial inserted into a conversation.
Let me explain:
Now I don’t mean to complain about a company or the people there but, rather offer a separate perspective on why some of us tense up a little bit when we’re referred to as “millennials.” It’s not that the term is wrong, or the people using it are wrong, it’s that it seems to always be associated with something wrong (with me so far?).
I know plenty of my fellow young professionals who take immense pride in our work. And while yes we are a part of a certain age range and there are stereotypes about us for a reason, the majority of us are so much more than that. We’re the pioneers of the digital age, creators of artificial universes, drivers of bringing instantaneous information worldwide and more. So don’t be offended by the lack of enthusiasm around the term millennial, we’re just working to find our way. And we get it, it’s up to us to change the perspective and the narrative.
So next time you make a “lazy millennial” joke. Just remember that people live up to your expectations of them. If we keep calling each other self-center, lazy and entitled millennials than that’s all we will become. It’s fun to joke about millennial stereotypes the same way its fun to joke about white girls drinking pumpkin spice lattes. But beneath those jokes there always seems to be a degree of truth and expressed frustration.