Dear Middle-Aged Journalists: Millennials Are Not That Mysterious

Just Googling the word “Millennial” brings up Google News articles at the top of the search engine results page written by Generation X’ers that are patronizing to Millennials. These articles go out of their way to talk about Millennials at an anthropological level as if we’re some alien life form that’s been aggressively reproducing on the surface of the Earth for the past few years, mysterious to most natives.

Here’s a message to anyone 35 or older writing about Millennials: We’re not that mysterious, so please stop writing articles about our habits as if you’re a consumer researcher and we’re a focus group…

The Simple Truth

We’re more like older generations than they’d like to believe, the simple truth is that we’re simply the first somewhat digitally native generation.

Like Generation X we haven’t been shaped by the harsh realities of a generational war, our biggest cultural influencers are heavily manufactured pop culture icons, and we’ve grown to be more socially liberal than the previous generation.

Yet, every article on Millennials reads like this:

“Here’s an amazing thing about Millennials that you wouldn’t believe to be true. Can you believe it’s true? I know there were 29 out of 30 things you wouldn’t find that remarkable, but this one thing… I’ll be damned.”

The Washington Post’s Emily Badger recently posted a blog post where she extrapolated some of ZipCar’s data and concluded that Millennials aren’t much different than other groups, but their habits may be misattributed to their age opposed to their living conditions or social-economic status.

While it’s true that Millennials are more comfortable with technology it’s not as if we’re the first generation to master personal computing. Most of the technology that Millennials depend on was designed by someone college students might consider “old”. Heck, I’m a Millennial and I still remember dial-up modems and having to use pencils to wind up cassettes. It’s not as if Millennials were born into a world with high broadband capacity and ubiquitous touch screens.

If you really want to feel old, find a teenager and describe how people used to get kicked off of the Internet whenever there was an incoming phone call.

That’s a mysterious age group for you, so mysterious you probably don’t even know when Generation Z starts. Millennials though? We’re pretty easy to figure out, we‘re just like you — just smarter, better informed, and younger.


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