I recently found out that I’m a “snowflake millennial,” so now I’m jumping on the bandwagon – all aboard!!
Stereotype (definition) – a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or the idea of a particular type of person or thing.
Can they be based in truth…? Sure.
Should you believe every stereotype you hear…? Not so fast.
(Photo courtesy of MKulp Photography)
The stereotype I’m most interested in today is this: Millennials are lazy, job-hopping snowflakes that seek only instant gratification.
Let’s not stop there. I’ve even read that more seasoned generations tend to believe that millennials are unprepared and incapable of taking the reins to lead our world forward. For the record – I think this opinion is short-sighted and not well investigated… So let’s take care of the latter.
Why am I interested in this stereotype? Well, I found out last year that I am in fact a card-carrying millennial (at least one definition classifies millennials as those born between 1981-2005). Head-up friends, I’m here!
So hand me that whole-grain toast, slap some avocado on it, and while you’re at it – get the hell off my naturally fertilized and electrically mowed lawn!
(I use a gas powered mower and I prefer crunchy peanut butter over avocado, but I digress)
Let’s first look at some evidence supporting generalized stereotypes as accurate
1) There exists a stereotype that men are more likely to commit crimes. Guess what? The data support that claim.
This publication from the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that in 2015, males (863 per 100,000) were more commonly incarcerated than females (64 per 100,000). And the numbers weren’t even close, which suggests that the difference is not the result of random chance…
2) Professor Lee Jussim (Rutgers University) wrote recently that based on his extensive research surrounding social psychology, widely-held stereotypes tend to be more accurate than not.
But don’t worry, Professor Jussim didn’t stop the article there – Maybe we have hope, after all?
Professor Jussim informs us that stereotypes represent an ‘average’ of that population and that although the average temperature in Anchorage, Alaska is colder than Madrid, Spain – that average does not inform you which city is colder right now. To determine actual current temperatures, you would need to delve a bit deeper.
Jussim says the same is true with stereotypes. They may inform your opinion of an individual based on a group they associate with, but that group does not define the individual. To determine accurate moral character, intelligence, and other factors, you’d have to get to know the person.
What is the current millennial stereotype?
“Type “millennials are” into a Google search bar, and you’ll find that “lazy” comes up as one of the top three autocompletes… [Millennials] are easily bored, crave instant gratification and would rather hop from gig to gig than stay with one company throughout their working lives. Not exactly dream employees, in other words.”
Is the “lazy, snowflake, job-hopping” millennial stereotype true?
The BBC article above tells us not so fast… Generation X’ers were shown to be twice as likely to change jobs at a similar age, as compared to millennials. What’s more, is that by not changing jobs as frequently, millennials are falling further behind in the wage-earnings department.
Couple lower proportional wages with the student loan debt epidemic and I think we start to see that the millennials currently on mom’s couch are there because even with their 2-3 jobs, they can’t afford to pay rent, loans, other debts, and bills… Lazy? More like children of the worst economic disaster in recent history just trying to get their heads back above water.
More data that millennials are a force to be reckoned with
This Agency Ascend article tells us that millennials:
Represent 25% of the population and are larger than Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers (independently)
Are the best-educated group of young adults in US history
87% of whom took management positions in the last 5 years (GenX – 38%; Boomers – 19%)
54% of millennials either have started a business or plan to start one
What to make of the millennial stereotypes not jiving with the data
Although we’ve heard from Dr. Jussim above that stereotypes are commonly based on fact, he also cautioned us not to rely on that generality.
Stereotypes tend to classify the average of a group and that is always a dangerous thing to do. It is wise to look at the individuals in question, take into account their specific traits and qualities, then form your opinion of the person – rather than “understanding” a group then projecting that stereotype blindly on an individual.
I fear the current millennial stereotype is in its infancy stage. As such, it is misinformed and will require more time to revert to the actual reality. What is that actual reality?
In 40 years, we will look back on the millennial generation and unanimously say that millennials have comprised the best generation since the “Greatest Generation.”
Yeah – I said it!
We’ve been new kids in town for quite a while and it won’t be until the tail end of our generation enters the working class that we’ll be at full strength. But we’ve accomplished so many monumental achievements already! Here’s a quick summation – Millennials have:
Founded Facebook, Airbnb, Groupon, Spotify, WordPress (the company that makes MikedUp Blog possible), and countless other companies – many of which have a huge impact on our lives each day
Helped pull our economy out of recession by hustling – we work more than past generations because of the economic times we came of age during and the financial environment that created for us
Fought wars for our country for the last 17 years. No matter your opinion on whether or not we should be there – our generation was, is, and will remain on the front lines.
Became the most educated generation in US history
Included more women and minorities in high profile positions than past generations (and this is only just beginning)
Made it cool to realize that experiences are so much more valuable than material objects
Decided to get our priorities straight…
This Pew research study reported that in 2010 our top 3 priorities were: “being a good parent, having a successful marriage, and helping others in need.”
I’m not saying we’re the best generation, I’m just saying that we’re only getting started.
So before you hear the term millennial and cringe at the sound, make sure to dive a bit deeper. See the individual for who and what they are. Also, realize that the X’ers and Boomers that at times look down on us millennials may not have it right after all. We’ve done amazing things and we’re going to be here for a long time to come!
Besides… It’s not us you should be worried about. We got you, America. It’s those kids after us you need to watch out for ?
Well, who’s with me? Do you agree that millennials will be labeled one of the greatest generations in history?
Or are you on the other side of this argument?
Share your thoughts in the comments below and let’s keep this conversation going!
Thanks for reading!
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I’m glad you’re here. Thanks again and talk soon!