Defining the Millennial Generation


First off, according to the Pew Research Center, I am certainly a millennial. I received a score of 95/100 on their quiz, which is really saying something considering anything over a 73/100 constitutes a “millennial”. However, I personally was pretty surprised by this result. Yes, I send a fair amount of texts, have a Facebook page, and haven’t used a landline phone in years, but I’ve always felt like I did this in moderation compared to lots of other people my age. I have an iPhone and Macbook, but use them for mostly their basic purposes. Anyone that knows me would say I’m absolutely not a tech genius. I never thought I truly fit into the millennial stereotype, which made me curious about the scores other members of our class received.

The more I thought about it, I realized that the big factor missing from my initial reaction was context. The Pew Research Center quiz asked questions were very simple and straightforward, but the questions were about much more than just technology. They covered a broad range of topics, including career aspirations, religious values, and family background. I think a common misunderstanding regarding millennials, one that I am certainly guilty of as well, is grouping millennials exclusively with the rapid advances in technology that have occurred over the past twenty years. The Millennial generation should be analyzed based off the societal, cultural, economic, and other changes that have taken place over the last couple decades.

For example, the Pew Report on Millennials as confident, liberal, upbeat, self-expressive, and open to change. We are ethnically and racially diverse, less religious, less involved with the military, and very educated. All of this is discussed in the Pew Report before the classic “always connected” phrase is thrown around. When I think of millennials I always think of the phrases tossed around in the news to describe the generation: “always connected”, “tech-savvy”, “on the go”. The Pew Report did a good job of investigating the trends behind the actual development of the generation. The more I read the report, the more I realized that I am a millennial after all. The characteristics and beliefs, such as religiously and socially, that separate me from my parents were laid out in detail in the Pew Report.

The questions that I find interesting are where will the millennials be in a few decades, and what will the next generation’s defining qualities be? Possibly the millennials will use their forward thinking to fully embrace a green initiative in order to protect the environment. Or maybe a strong environmental movement will be a hallmark of the next generation. It’s fun to think about the possibilities that exist in the future, and I’m excited to see how everything will play out.

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5 thoughts on “Defining the Millennial Generation”

  1. I think the big component that comes from technologically savvy nature of our generation is that we are much more educated than our predecessors. With social media, internet access from a young age, and understanding of how both work, we as a generation have access to information our parents could never have imagined right at our fingertips at all times. I think this higher social education then leads to things like being less religious (not blindly accepting religion but researching things ourselves) and being less involved in war (understanding what is going on globally instead of following the opinions of our government). So I agree that technology is not the only thing that defines our generation, there is so much more, but I do think that technology is the biggest catalyst in the formation of many of our generation’s other characteristics.

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  2. The way we react to our current issues will probably fundamentally shape the values that the newer generation will take on. I’m very curious on how change between generation happens though…is it the education we receive…the exposure to the environment we grew up in…both?

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  3. Zack, you’re perspective heading into the quiz, and after, was very similar to mine. I, too, viewed myself as less of a millennial and felt like I did “millennial” type things in moderation as compared to my peers. In my blog, I briefly mentioned that I didn’t think a quiz of this length and type could not truly capture the characteristics of a person, such as how millennial they are. You mentioned that a big factor missing from the quiz was context. I feel like we’re on the same page, however I’d like to hear more about what you mean by this. How do you think could a quiz like this be altered to be more effective and useful?

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  4. I felt like before I took the quiz, I had the same assumptions about millennials as you did. While talking about millennials, I’ve always thought that technology and personality were the most important factors, but I’d never considered topics like religion and family upbringing. I don’t feel like those topics get brought up enough while discussing millennials, and they should. It’s tough to paint an accurate picture of something, especially something with a somewhat negative connotation like millennials, when you don’t consider all the facts and details.

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  5. Thomas and Zach, its interesting how we shared similar perspectives going into the quiz. I think the quiz considered the topics we overlooked, such as religions and reactions to social issues. However, I think it did not go into enough detail about the technology aspects of being a millennial. The quiz could have been enhanced with questions about the amount of time we use social media, or watch tv on a daily basis. I don’t doubt that I am a millennial, but I still think a 95 is a little high even when you consider all the aspects that make up the generation’s identity.

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