Millennials Schmillennials and Generation Generalizations

Joel Stein opens his Time Magazine cover story on Millennials:

Time Magazine Cover Millennials

I am about to do what old people have done throughout history: call those younger than me lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow. But I have studies! I have statistics! I have quotes from respected academics! Unlike my parents, my grandparents and my great-grandparents, I have proof.

Ah yes, as he points out with tongue in cheek, there is proof: studies, statistics, and data.

If nothing else, the so-called millennials generation, and all the writing, thinking, analysis, and opinions about that generation, are proof that in today’s drowning-in-information world, there is data to prove anything.

If you want to knock people in their twenties, search the web for “millennials selfish” (300,000 hits) or “millennials entitled” (600,000 hits) or “millennials lazy” (150,000 hits) and you’ll find plenty of alleged data.

On the other hand, if you want to praise them, do the search for “millennials entrepreneurship” (250,000 hits) or “millennials ambition” (1 million hits) or “millennials thoughtful” (5 million hits) and you’ll find plenty of alleged data for that too.

Conclusion: The generation generalizations are fun. They make us think. They’re like riffs on personality types of horoscopes, the best of them delightfully creative, finding traits that seem to make sense on the surface. But millennials are no more classifiable than generation X, baby boomers, or any of those. The world changes, but people don’t.


  • Tom Schopp says:

    It always amazes me that if we have a prejudice about some group, and then research the truth, you usually find out that you were wrong.


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