What defines the millennial generation


by Meilan Steimle, Meena Gudapati, and Alex Wang

It’s almost ironic that Millennials, the generation hailed as “digital natives,” are reflected so poorly in Google instant search results.

According to The Oxford Dictionary and dictionary.com, a “millennial” is defined as “a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000,” and “a person born in the 1980s or 1990s, especially in the U.S,” respectively. But the generational tag is laden with connotation.

The word “millennial” seems to be at the forefront of popular consciousness. One can find out “How Millennial are you?” in a 17-question quiz, and articles like “11 Tips for Managing Millennials” and “The Millennials’ are Coming” permeate the web and traditional media.

Indeed, while positive Millennial stereotypes exist (tech-savvy, innovative), their representation in media is predominantly negative, as seen in Google Instant results.

“Millennials are economically unviable, starving artist-type kids that wait forever to get married and seem [like] unproductive members of society,” Sanil Rajput (12) said.

The mainstream media echoes Sanil’s sentiment, as millennials are often portrayed as lazy and lollygagging.

In addition, they are also seen as flakey, entitled and narcissistic, with poor work ethic and an overdependence on technology.

“They were raised by doting parents who told them they are special played in little leagues with no winners or losers or all winners. They are laden with trophies just for participating and they think your business-as-usual ethic is for the birds,” declares the aforementioned “The Millennials are coming,” which originally ran as a 60-Minutes segment on CBS. “And if you persist in the belief you can, take your job and shove it.”

The stereotypes are not entirely unfounded; according to The Guardian, in the 1950’s, 12 percent of high school students thought they were important people compared the the 80 percent of children in the 90s.

However, researches as the University of Illinois later determined that this narcissistic thought was dependent on an individual’s developmental stage and age rather than his or her generation.

According to the National Institutes of health, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is present three times as much in people in their 20’s than people older than 65.

Sixty-eight percent of organizations said they found it difficult to manage millennials according to Forbes.

Lee Caraher, president and CEO of Double Forte and author of “Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making it Work at Work” spoke about integrating millennials into work spaces.

“It was a challenge when we hired our first set of millennials to integrate them into the company, which was a shock to me,” she said. “The stereotype of millennials is very negative, which I refused to believe. When I peeled the onion on why there’s a gap in perception and reality there, it became evident to me that that older people who are complaining about millennials are just misunderstanding them.”

Kristen Mcguire, California Director of Partnerships & Organizing at Young Invincibles, an organization dedicated to representing the voices of 18 to 34 year-olds, addressed the adaptation to millennials by companies.

“I think companies have already started to shift the way they think and the way they allow people to have families in the workplace; we have more environments that aren’t so rigid, environments that allow family time, extended time off to raise families,” she said.

Mcguire noted that a desire for work-leisure separation is indicative of a larger trend in millennial preferences.

“I think quality of life is important with the millennial generation,” she said. “We are on a quest for a job that fits our quality of life, our family values, and also our professional development.”

contrary to the descriptions of millennials suggested by Google, Mcguire sees a deeper drive in millennials to create a life of higher quality for themselves.

While the general conception of millennials seems to be deeply rooted in the negative, the new generation remains representative of the eclectic diversity that has also defined all those who have come before the millennials.

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on Jan. 27, 2016