TBQH, not a day goes by that the subject of Millennials and who they are and what they want and why the olds should give a hoot about them doesn’t come up during multiple conversations. Whether it’s idle (and not-so-idle) chit-chat with co-workers in the office or random conversations with friends and strangers, it seems the entire world is positively obsessed with Millennials.
I would venture a guess that a majority of otherwise right-minded peeps occupy at least 15% of their day and 8% of their brain capacity considering the ins and outs of these fascinating unicorns. But that’s just a wild guess. Obviously, I don’t have a lot of friends and/or they all work in marketing and stuff.
You know who’s not obsessing about Millennials and their vexatious Millennial ways? Most peeps ages 18 to 35, that’s who. Cuz they’re too busy with their Snapchat and Netflix and Chill and living with their best friends (a.k.a., their parents) and constantly seeking out feedback and validation at work to have any time to pay attention to the hubbub that surrounds them 24/7. At least that’s what the media keeps telling us.
While the seeds of discontent about Millennials and their gosh-darned Millennialness were probably sown as soon as the term Millennial was first coined back in, like, the early 1990s, it seems the backlash against them is starting to reach a fever pitch. Seemingly overnight, the headlines went from “Millennials Are Gonna Save the World!!!” to “Millennials Aren’t Anything Like the Olds Thought!!!” to “Stop Stereotyping Young Peeps Cuz They’re All Different!!!” to “Millennials Are So Totally Over!!!”
Apparently, everything we ever knew or were told about Millennials is wrong. In fact, there’s a growing movement afoot, proclaiming that Millennials simply don’t exist. Or, at most, they are a convenient-yet-mythical construct, borne from the collective fever dream of marketing suits. These days, talking about Millennials has been reduced to a kinda shorthand to describe things that are spooky and weird and new to anyone over the age of 40, but totally marketable and completely worth exploiting for commercial gain.
Maybe the backlash has less to do with Millennials themselves and more to do with the so-called Millennials experts who gave us insights such as, “Millennials don’t like breath mints unless there’s some kinda deep emotional experience attached to attaining minty-fresh breath” and “Contrary to popular belief, Millennials are rejecting technology and embracing the simpler things in life: 2016 is the new 1816.” Or something like that.
The exploding cottage industry of Millennials consultants is now under attack for purveying kinda sorta dubious claims about Millennials that rightly could be sorted under the very scientific categories of “Obvs,” “Um, no,” and “Wut?” Even so, the last time I checked, it was still cool in America to have opinions and get paid for those opinions—no matter how outlandish or cuckoo those opinions might be. (See Also: Presumptive Republican Nominee for POTUS.) I’m not sure if I’m super-impressed or super-perturbed by the sick sums that some of these consultants are raking in for telling us stuff about Millennials that often feels like it’s been plucked out of thin air, but whatevs.
As a Gen Xer who works with and writes about Millennials in their natural habitats, I readily confess that I, too, have been guilty of clinging onto some of the same sweeping over-generalizations that are now suddenly coming under the kind of closer scrutiny that the subject deserves. In my defense, everyone knows that nuance is hard, yo! And what’s the use of demographics if we can’t put them into neat little boxes for marketing sake, amirite?