What Does It Really Mean To Be A Millennial?

Ah, the generation that grew up with Saved by the Bell and Full House. Oh, wait, I forgot to include the kids that got their first cell phone before they graduated elementary school. Never mind, those afterschool sitcoms were Gen Z, right? Then what the flip am I? I need someone else to figure out this generation thing. And then they’ll need someone else and were all going to have different answers as to what defines one the most abused words today, millennial.

The word millennial is not only used as a label, but it’s also thrown around as an insult used by older generations.

“Millennials have it so easy.”
“You millennials are always on your phone.”

Yeah, that 23-year-old has been on his phone this entire subway ride, but he most likely is mostly fixing something that your generation broke and left for us to clean up.

But when a Baby Boomer is talking to my sister (’90) and me (’99) and throws us in the same generation as a millennial, I tend to mentally tilt my head in confusion.

If we are going to use Google’s top result, a millennial is someone born in the years 1981-1996. But if I go to the second source, it’s 1982-2004. Can some mighty power please define these generations? Because we seem to not be getting anywhere! And why the heck does everyone else get letters like X and Y, but whatever this generation earns the privilege a full word?

If we go back to Google and look up the definition of millennial, Oxford Dictionary defines it as “a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.”

It was not until the 80s hit when this word came back up and in a book published in 1991 by William Strauss and Neil Howe titled Generations. At the time of this book, the “new generation” was starting preschool, including my commonly mistaken twin, AKA, my sister. But the two authors insisted on calling this generation millennials because the 21st Century was right around the corner.

After writing this article, it became clearer as to why this label is used. But I am, and always will be, confused as to why this word is used as an insult along with blame.

I know this generation seems to be “privileged” or “lazy," according to older generations. But hey, we are still coming of age, it is still the 21st Century after all, and will be for the next 81 years. And I know music, school, even dating is different compared to the “old days.” But isn’t that the common pattern seen in generational differences? My grandparents danced to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin when their son, my father, rocked out to Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. By just saying these different names, you can hear how different these types of music are. It’s not only a difference, it’s also progress. It’s how life is supposed to happen.

Humans aren’t meant to stay in one place in any aspect of life. We are always wanting the next big thing; despite what year it is. I am not saying I support people that would rather look at a screen than their friend across the table, but when millennials or whatever young generation is honed in on their laptop, rather than talking to the people around them, they might be making the next progression this life needs.