The millennial (generation y) period, which according to Harvard is from 1982 to 2004, is roughly a twenty-year span. Researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss believe the millennials to be the “next great generation.” These are high expectations for a generation, especially one that doesn’t seem to care. Perhaps the exact response from some millennials today would be “I don’t care, but I look good doing so.”
What makes a generation? A generation of time is divided by major global events such as war, like the baby boomers. However, it can be shaped by sociological trends like generation x and the “grunge” period. Just because one generation is defined by a major event will not mean that event alone defines that generation. For example, a baby boomer might have been alive for the assignation of Kennedy, but another event like the Kent state shooting might have shaped the generation. Me personally, being born in 1994, I was alive for the Columbine shooting but the distinguishing moment in my life was when the twin towers fell. Unique events shape and define how people distinguish the past and present and how individuals perceive and what makes our generation. I’m interested to know the experiences that other millennials and generations had to shape their perspective of a generation.
Psychologist Jean Twenge calls today’s millennials “generation me” proclaiming a self-absorbed generation. Generation Y exhibits dominate traits like confidence and tolerance, but also traits like entitlement and narcissism. In a 2016 study by SYZYGY discovered millennials in the United States consistently provide elevated scored on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory as they get older, finding millennials exhibited 16% more narcissism than elders, males scoring higher than females. In Twenge’s 2006 book “Generation Me” she questions the theories of researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss who predicted generation y to be “the next great generation” and how “civil minded” millennials would be. Unique culture changes influence every generation and self-love, and the preserving of self-esteem has been the most influential among millennials. Twenge explains how preserving self-esteem can create a false sense of fulfillment in an unrealistic environment.
I recently asked my friend who is two years younger than me, if he cared about being called the “next great generation.” I guess his response was what I had anticipated; he said “there are other generations, so no” as he gazed into his iPhone 6. In fact, his anxiety was through the roof, or floor, as he paced my kitchen disputing WWIII possibilities. Any question he had didn’t come from any source other than what “Hey Suri” could find. After listening to his rant about Shaun Spicer (but not knowing who he is), I realized that my friend is interested but not engaged. I find that to be the biggest problem in some millennials and even myself; we are interested but not fully engaged. Not just about Shaun Spicer or politics, but in various topics across the globe. Any newly introduced topic grabs interest, but it’s hard to remain fully engaged as there are various other things to attend to. Maybe that is why it is hard for people especially millennials to not text and drive.