After Natalie got unfairly tarred with the gen z brush on WR yesterday I just wanted us to take a minute and remember that we established this in stream chat on more than one occasion, millenials are all the people, the last people, who remember living in a pre-internet world.
Which is cool because it’s a cultural definition and not an arbitrarily temporal one.
(I hope it’s clear that this is a tongue in cheek post but you never know so I’m calling it out explicitly)
Personally, I see millennials as more of an economic class than a generation. Namely, I see it as the group of people that entered the workforce between late 2007 and the present. Our economic prospects, or lack thereof, feels like the thing that most binds our cohort together, more so than a shared connection to technology.
What? I def don’t think Millennials are the people who remember pre internet. I’m a millenial, though on the younger end of the generation, and i’ve always remembered the internet. Its not always good internet (I don’t think my family got more than dial up until i was in high school) but the interenet has always been there for me, and i’m only 24, so i’m also not thatttt young.
I think pre-internet here means more… pre-omnipresence-of-the-internet? Pre-social media, especially. Pre-everyone in middle school had smartphones? That definitely strikes a chord with me.
I’m 23, and just graduated from college in May (same as Natalie), so I’m riiiiiiiight on the edge of this too. I consider myself a millennial because I think my worldview matches up more with the one I associate with millennials, but my sister, who’s four years younger, definitely is more Gen Z. And for me, the difference has almost felt more like a difference in attitude towards the world.
This may be something I’m basing too much on my own feelings, but I feel like the worldview people associate with millennials comes from having our worldview defined by the 2008 recession (which I think is in line with what @Navster said), as the oldest end of the generation (early-80s) was starting out in the workforce and the youngest end (late-90s) was old enough to understand what was happening when their parents lost their jobs or their lifestyle suddenly changed. For me, that felt like it imbued a lot of cynicism and frugality (that maybe is shared by Gen Z), but also a feeling of… not helplessness, not exactly, but maybe heavy pessimism? Both a heavy distrust in systems and a sense of the inevitability of those systems’ failure? I work with a lot of high schoolers in my job, and while I think they share that cynicism to an extent, I don’t think they feel nearly as pessimistic about the future as I and my friends (who’ve just graduated) do. Or maybe it’s more that they feel they can change it more readily.
(Or maybe that’s all just me psychoanalyzing myself haha. But it’s a thought.)
I totally get that cynicism. My sister is still in high school, and she is, while not optimistic per say, at least has a “hey I think there is stuff we can do” look at things whereas my mindset every day feels like “its all garbage, and there is basically nothing we can do to fix it”
I agree that entering the workforce during the recession had a huge impact. On average, generations that come of age during a recession end up having that bad luck echo throughout their careers because early earnings/career opportunities affect later earnings/career opportunities. That’s even when the economy completely bounces back, which ours hasn’t.
There are definitely things you can do to make your individual situation worse/better but it can be pretty disheartening to know that much of the setbacks had nothing to do with your own merits, and a lot of the guidance that millennials got for navigating the “new world of work” turned out to be completely wrong. I remember “follow your dreams” being a joke already, but after 2008 even the bulletproof sensible-person mantra of “work hard and go to college for STEM” was no longer a guarantee. It was great advice if you happened to choose to be a doctor or software developer, but not so much if you tried for any kind of academic science. Even engineering turned out to be hit-or-miss, depending on your specialty. Some of the careers that parents/counsellors/government agencies were screaming at kids to go into because there were big shortages predicted there, ended up so flooded with graduates that many of them couldn’t get jobs. (Anyone else remember that pharmacist shortage that never materialized?) I was just young enough that teachers were hesitantly starting to suggest skilled trades to some students rather than “college for all”, but just old enough that most kids (and their parents) would have been embarrassed to admit that the plan was anything other than a 4 year degree.
In the end I think there was a huge mismatch in economic expectations versus reality for the millenials that really screwed a lot of our cohort over. Gen Z shares much of the same reality, but the expectations were more realistic from the start and they had a longer runway to adjust to the new normal. It’s like that Charles Dickens quote about money but applied to life. If you expect a sixpence more than you end up getting, you’ll be a lot more pissed than someone who expected a sixpence less, even if you both got the same amount.
I was under the impression that you are awarded the title “millennial” only if you were born between 1981 and 1996 AND have savagely murdered no less than three different industries in rapid succession
If anything I would have assumed tuna sales would be in decline because we were running out of tuna. Is tuna not hugely popular to eat right now? Where I live, sushi plus fish tacos plus buddha bowls equals an awful lot more tuna than my grandparents would have eaten.
I’m 28 and I remember before our house had internet and I was excited that I could finally visit the website on the side of the Kellogs box, but I think that’s because of geography. Ireland was slower on the widespread internet uptake.
Also reading this thread is making me have weird thoughts about the idea that a younger generation is growing up with less despair and that we’ll be the old overly cynical folks.