In Defense of the Millennial

The first time I heard the term “Millennial” it came like a rude slap to the face. I found myself accused of being something that I didn’t even know existed, and—apparently—something that was about as pleasant and useful as a banana slug. Whenever I heard the phrase “millennial” before this, I had only thought of Y2K or the Millennium Falcon. Confused, I did some research, discovering that it seemed I belonged to a very despised group of individuals, who had the misfortune to be born sometime between 1980 -1997 (or 1977 - 1995, or 1982 - 1996, or a thousand other variations depending on who you ask). Growing up, I was told I was part of Generation Y, and while then I couldn’t have cared less about what generation I supposedly belonged to, I suddenly found myself very much caring and wishing I was Gen Y.

In my opinion, then and now, titling and typecasting generations is fairly useless, except for the interest of seeing how society and mindsets change and develop fairly drastically every few decades. Every generation seems to have changes in thought-process and world views that shift culture, and it is interesting to take note of some of the statistics.

But seemingly out of nowhere, something that should just be a boring statistical title became a curse. I found myself not really wanting anyone to know my age (though just by looking at me it’s pretty obvious), and suddenly felt a little embarrassed over ordinary things I did that I’ve never given a second thought to, but had now become stereotyped as “that’s so millennial of you.” Good grief, I better not own a succulent, or eat avocado toast, or use essential oils, or consider a freelance job over an office job, or buy organic unless I wanted to made fun of. And of course these are all silly examples; the hurt comes when I feel like I am not respected, when I am afraid to share an idea because I think I will just be typecast, when the comments get tiring enough that I finally blurt out, “I know I’m just a useless millennial!”

Now, I love a good laugh and would think the millennial jokes and memes bombarding the internet are funny, except I feel like they now have barbs attached. Some stereotypes are true and it’s fine to joke about them, as long as the joking doesn’t cross the line into judgement, criticizing, blaming, isolating, and writing people off.

Not only is this attitude hurtful to those attacked, but it is creating a rift between generations. Why would a younger generation look up to and respect an older one that is constantly criticizing them? What will the even younger generation—the Gen Zs—inherit from a culture where this kind of mockery is the norm?

In 2016, a new word was added to Urban Dictionary (and I think it’s on its way to all dictionaries) to give a name to this new issue—juvenoia. Urban Dictionary describes juvenoia as:

“The fear one generation of adults holds towards the younger generations succeeding them. Often times coincides with the inability to recall one's own childhood and use this as perspective when formulating opinions about ‘today's' youth.”

It’s kinda sad that we now have to have a word for this condition, even though it isn’t anything new. The internet has magnified and multiplied things more than ever before, such as blowing millennial stereotypes out of proportion as if we were the first generation to have lifestyle trends (*cough, cough* hippies, bellbottoms, shoulder-pads *cough, cough*). Older generations have found fault and criticism for the younger generations for thousands of years, so while the millennial-hatred feels unprecedented, juvenoia really is an age-old mindset.

And it is something I would like to change. I know compared to a host of important issues on the planet, juvenoia really is a silly one. But I would still like to see the word forgotten. Younger generations need to value and appreciate older generations; older generations need to value and appreciate the younger ones. No one generation is better or worse, and we need each other’s points of views. My concern is that this unkind stereotyping, mockery, and animosity will only increase if we don’t try to shift out perspectives now. I want to demonstrate a mutual honor and value to the next generation.

I’m not writing this to act like millennials are somehow better than any other generation, but I am getting a little tired of the general mood in society that acts like we’re the worst. Every generation has strengths and weaknesses. So yeah, millennials have faults, but since when has making fun of someone ever helped them truly change?

If you’re a millennial, be proud of it, and live with respect and honor toward the other generations. If you’re not a millennial, be proud of it, and live with respect and honor toward the other generations. Together, every generation alive today can help shift the cultural attitude and break the cycle of juvenoia.

(Not to mention, it’s worth it to be nice to millennials, because next year, 2020, one in three adults will be one;)

Below are 11 interesting facts about millennials from that you might not know:

1. Millennials are the most racially, ethnically diverse generation yet.

Source: Pew Research Center

2. 35% of millennials have started their own side business to generate more income.

Source: Edelman Digital

3. In a 2010 survey, millennials reported that their top three priorities were "being a good parent," "having a successful marriage," and "helping others in need."

Source: Pew Research Center

4. Millennials were more optimistic about the future of the nation than previous generations in a 2014 survey. 49% reported being optimistic about America's future, compared to 42% from Generation X and 44% of Baby Boomers.

Source: Pew Research Center

5. 33% of millennials ages 26-33 have at least a college degree, a higher percent than any previous generation.

Source: Pew Research Center

6. Millennials are more likely to have stayed with their current employer for 3-6 years, compared to Generation X at the same age.


7. Millennial women are making up an increasing percentage of the workforce, and earning more than women of previous generations, partly due to their high rates of earning college degrees (now higher than men).


8. 63% of millennials want their employer to donate to social or ethical causes that they value, compared to 50% of older generations.


9. 81% of millennials have donated money, objects, or volunteer time to causes they care about.


10. 74% of non-millennials agree that millennials bring valuable new skills to the workplace, including technological skills.

Source: Forbes

11. By 2020, one in three adults will be millennials. Get ready.