The other day, somebody used some words I took offence to. In a sentence they said to me, without intent of offending “Millennials like yourself are better at figuring out how to set up that headset than I could ever be”. I cringed and turned to this person, (who didn’t mean to cause offence) and said “Where did you hear that term?” She took it as a joke, a thirty-something professional who seems to have blurred the lines between her own generation and the new one. When did it happen exactly, this erroneous labeling of millions of people against their say? Who is responsible, that’s what i’d like to know.
When i first heard the term ‘Millennial’ i thought it was a dig at the youth of today, kids who were born on the eve of the Millennium and by the time they turned eight years old, they’d already seen a black president and had some basic knowledge of what happened in the Iraq war, maybe they’d even heard of Lost, you know – 2000’s shit. Little did i know that it was a lump of coal gifted by the previous generations – one that tied my own doomed brethren down along with it. As it turns out, I had become a ‘Millennial’.
The term sounds so much like an insult, it’s easy to understand my disgust with the term. I wasn’t always happy about what previous generations got to call me when i was younger – I hated being called a ‘kid’ when i was 10 years old, I hated being called a ‘youth’ when i was a teenager. I discovered around the age of 15 or so that the generations of people had boundaries – although they seemed flawed. When you get into early nineties bands like Nirvana, the question of “who were generation x” comes up. There was a lot of talk about how they were “disaffected and directionless” – how they were creating their own revolution in the way the ‘boomers’ couldn’t because of the MTV and the self loathing bunch of bastards whose lives were forever changed by punk rock.
“Generation X” by Douglas Coupland is widely credited with the rise of the term, and made it stick – it felt appropriate. Even though that book is such a bore that nobody could even finish it, they still became drawn to the term. I thought – what will my generation be called? Wikipedia told me that it was considered ‘Generation Y’ – i had no problem with that. For me, the case was closed – this weird age category set only to alienate the young against the people who were there before them, would follow in a sensible order that i didn’t have to care about. It would go Gen Y, Gen Z – and then prospective Gen AA or whatever they could sensibly call it.
Ten years pass, and I start to hear the term Millennial used in a disparaging context. By who? Newscasters, Journalists, Comedians, all American, but who cares right? It’s got nothing to do with me. But then it starts to spread into British lexicon. It appears in op-ed pieces and the like – it even appears to be adopted by Journalists that appear way older than I am. Then somebody calls me one, and i flip my shit. I don’t get why people were trying to label the generations for any reason other than scientifically. Why have we been stuck with this name that was chosen by someone else, sounds like an insult, and is able to be bounded around so casually? I see articles like “How to get the most out of your CV as a Millennial” or “Millennials are officially the laziest generation.”
Mainstream news has jumped on the chance to start branding their 20 year old kids something in effort to make boring news stories sound a bit more snazzier than “20-35 year old demographic”. It’s all bullshit. The names we give each other generation, they mean nothing if we actually care about the previous generation. It’s all a marketing ploy – i’m sure of it. If people are actively trying to come up with names for people who aren’t even born yet, these names have no merit.
“Matt Carmichael, former director of data strategy at Advertising Age, noted in 2015 that many groups were “competing to come up with the clever name” for the generation following Generation Z. Mark McCrindle has suggested “Generation Alpha” and “Generation Glass” as names for the cohort following Generation Z”
This is a stub from Wikipedia, but it doesn’t make any sense. People are actively trying to come up with ‘clever names’ for the kids that follow the kids? So they can put them in a category and file them easier when trying to sell to them? They don’t know how to understand these people, so they label them. It’s all marketing! I refuse to fall for it. The generation system is a crock of bullshit, it has never made much sense to me. You label a bunch of people you’ve never met, in order to do market research on them? To try and alienate them?
It’s way too easy to use the term ‘Millennial’ as derogatory, so people should just refrain from it as much as they can. If they really need to have something to label a generation, use boring ass terms like X & Y, don’t saddle them with something that’s harder to escape from. Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe may have created this term innocently in their attempts to study social generations and generational cycles, but it’s now come to my attention that it’s all made up. If these generational cycles aren’t real, then ‘Millennial’, ‘Boomer’ and ‘Xer’ aren’t real. Instead, we just got ‘Old Assholes’, ‘Fat Assholes’ and ‘a bunch of fucking dickheads’. I won’t be the first to share my anger at this title, and i won’t be the last. Just remember, that it’s got nothing to do with any of us.