How to Explain the Millennial Generation? Understand the Context

By Darrin J. DeChane
2014, Vol. 6 No. 03 | pg. 3/3 |

Now that millennials have started their own families, it is believed that many will re-strengthen the American family that has been on the decline for decades. Nimon argues millennials “are seeking and finding lasting relationships” while Howe explains that reemergence of multigenerational families is arising (Nimon, 2007, p. 27). Howe says, “Family is going to continue to strengthen … People are going to find new purposes for all the extra rooms in their oversized houses” (Galland, 2009). Howe then goes on to explain that, with the current economic situation, the nuclear family living within one household could solve many economic problems.

It is only logical that millennials will re-strengthen the family unit because they were the first generation to grow up with entirely fractured families: mothers, fathers, and grandparents in separate houses, miles apart. This “turning” toward stronger families can be viewed as an attempt to correct the mistakes of past generations. Generation X was the first generation to make divorce common in the United States and, according to Strauss-Howe, this had such a profound effect on millennials continues into their adulthood.

Outside of the millennial home and into the millennial , this generation is going to school as recent generations have, but in greater numbers. According to Dr. Mary Donohue, millennials are the most educated generation in . However, what is surprising is that millennials learn differently from past generations: they crave interactions and simulations rather than the traditional lecture style of education (Donohue, 2013). This “turning” has come from what the past generation provided to us: . With technology, people read and write texts, emails, tweets, and blogs with the click of a button. Millennials are reading and not listening.

After millennials finish high school and attend what has become mandatory university, they do what no recent generation has done before: they return home to live with their parents. For this reason, millennials have been called “lazy” and “entitled.” Other people say millennials are postponing childhood and therefore have earned the nickname “perma-children.” Following university, millennials have struggled to find jobs and pay off their hefty debts whereas past generations could graduate high school or college and find a job that would support a healthy middle-class lifestyle. However, from 1996 to 2006, the cost of college doubled while the economy faltered (Thompson, 2013). In the past the cost of education was affordable that through a part-time job during the school year and a summer job, most graduates left school with no debt. But today attending college means, for the average student, taking on tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. The Millennial Generation is expected to do what their parents did – have a house and family right out of college – even though the economic realities have changed drastically.

Having completed their education and graduated into the work force, many employers are not pleased with a changing work ethic among millennials. Compared to past generations, millennials seem less dedicated. In his paper Understanding Generation Y, McCrindle describes this phenomenon: "The young people of this generation do not live to work – but rather work to live. A job merely provides the income to do that they want to do” (McCrindle, 2007, p. 4).

From a young age, millennials watched their parents work extremely hard and receive little in return: they were unhappy, tired, and over-worked. This drastic “turning” can be traced back generations to the GI Generation who fought in . Since then, their children and grandchildren benefited from hard work: a family with a house, car, and . Once the economy began to change, millennials saw that hard work was no longer produced meaningful results. Millennials observed this trend and unconsciously decided that their parent’s experience would not be theirs.

Unlike recent generations, millennials do not trust companies, celebrities, or politicians and these three entities also have a hard time connecting to millennials. The traditional commercials and advertisements are no longer effective because millennials “have become cynical about companies trying to manipulate them” (Nimon, 2007, p. 32). This is why the Millennial Generation has been nicknamed the “screw you generation.” Donohue describes the trend of untrustworthiness by looking at “what happened when [millennials] were coming of age… presidents, prime ministers, countless business executives and maybe a few sports heroes all lied and very few were punished” (Donohue, 2012).

The Millennial Generation lost much of the trust they had in businesses, celebrities, and politicians when each disappointed them in turn. They also saw the consequences of past generations that placed too much trust in such entities. It is therefore unlikely that there will be another John F. Kennedy that the entire country loves and adores. Politicians are not trusted. The Watergate Scandal ruined the reputation of the President. Furthermore, Nixon was pardoned and received no punishment. OJ Simpson was acquitted of murder and while the banks failed in 2008, the CEOs still received multi-million dollar bonuses. Now, millennials strive to punish those who do wrong. Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees was suspended for using steroids; Lance Armstrong´s Tour de titles were removed for the same; and John Edwards was virtually removed from politics after his affair was uncovered. The cynical Millennial Generation refuses to place all of their trust in one entity because they do not want to get screwed as their naïve parents and grandparents did.

Both the generation that came first, and the major events of the day shape a generation. Although the millennial generation is often looked at with perplexity by its antecedents, we argue that we are changing the country – and the world – for the better. The internet offers millennials the opportunity to reveal the injustices of the world and to be constantly aware of them. The millennials are informed and politically active, often with the help of a computer screen. Millennials want to make up for the shortcomings of the previous generations, and like the generations prior, they will achieve in some aspects while failing in others before giving way to the next generation.


References

Coombes, B. (2009). Generation Y: Are they really digital natives or more like digital refugees? Synergy , 7 (1), 31-41.

Donahue, Mary. (2012, Janurary 13). TEDxRyersonU – Dr. Mary Donohue – Millennials, McLuhan and slow dancing [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0PUrZQjVRw

Galland, D. (2009, October 8). [Interview with N. Howe]. Casey Research, pp. 36-47.

Henseler, C. (2012). Generation X goes global: Mapping a youth in motion. New York, NY: Routledge.

Hess, Scott. (2011, June 10). TEDxSF – Scott Hess – Millennials: Who they are & why we hate them [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-enHH- r_FM

Howe, N. & Strauss, W. (1997). The fourth turning: An American prophecy. New York, NY: Broadway Books.

Howe, N. & Strauss, W. (1991). Generations: The history of America’s future,1584 to 2069. New York, NY: William Morrow & Company.

Howe, N., & Strauss, W. (2003, June 14). Millennials go to college. Retrieved October 14, 2013, from Eubie: http://eubie.com/millennials.pdf

Mannheim, K. (1927). The problem of generations. In P. Kecskementi (Ed.), Karl Mannheim: Essays (pp. 276-322). New York, NY: Routledge.

McCrindle, M. (2007). Understanding generation Y. North Parramatta: Australian Leadership Foundation.

Morrison, M. (2013, March 25). McDonald’s has a problem. Retrieved from http://adage.com/article/news/mcdonald-s-1-rank-millennials/240497/

Nimon, S. (2007). Generation Y and higher education: The other Y2K. Journal of Institutional Research, 13 (1), 21-41.

Racine, K. (2013, September 11). We are the 9/11 generation. Retrieved from http://www.literallydarling.com/we-are-the-911-generation/.

Stein, J. (2013). Millennials: The me me me generation. Time, 181(19), 26-32.

Telefónica. (2013). Telefónica global millennial survey: Focus on US. Retrieved from http://survey.telefonica.com/wpcontent/uploads/2013/06/Telefonica_GMS _US_FACTSHEET.pdf

Thompson, D. (2013). Millennials are the unluckiest generation. National Journal, 6-21.

US Chamber of Commerce Foundation. (2012). The millennial generation. Retrieved from http://emerging.uschamber.com/MillennialsReport

Walton, A. (2012, March 19). Millennials non-negotiables: Money, fame and image. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2012/03/19/millennial- generations-non-negotiables-money-fame-and-image/

Suggested Reading from Inquiries Journal

Once upon a time, in a land called America, people truly believed in a capitalist system. Citizens worked hard their entire lives to feed into their 401-K plans and expected that depending on how the economy went, they may profit from their work. They did not depend on the American government to take care of everything for them;... MORE»
Advertisement
Preadolescence is a pivotal time for individuals as they develop their own set of values, attitudes, and beliefs. With children ages 11 to 14 reportedly watching nearly three hours a day of television, TV programming can be enormously influential. This study examined how preteen TV programming has changed over time by comparing... MORE»
Sporting mega-events in Rio de Janeiro, including the 2014 World Cup and the upcoming 2016 Olympics, employ particular tactics of spatio-temporal scale-making to produce a utopic atmosphere of global camaraderie, modern urban development, and sporting revelry. However, these spectacular representations simultaneously work to obscure... MORE»
The Ambystoma mexicanum, commonly known as the axolotl, possesses extraordinary regenerative abilities and is capable of reconstituting limbs, retina, liver, and even minor regions of the brain (Muneoka et al., 2008). At the most elementary level, regeneration is mediated by a cascade of epigenetic processes... MORE»
Submit to Inquiries Journal, Get a Decision in 10-Days

Inquiries Journal provides undergraduate and graduate students around the world a platform for the wide dissemination of academic work over a range of core disciplines.

Representing the work of students from hundreds of institutions around the globe, Inquiries Journal's large database of academic articles is completely free. Learn more | Blog | Submit

Follow SP

comments powered by Disqus

Latest in Sociology

2018, Vol. 10 No. 05
Universal secondary education is vital if rural China is to achieve long-term socioeconomic sustainability, as education offers the pragmatic skills and knowledge base that would allow those living in rural China to adapt to the knowledge-intensive... Read Article »
2017, Vol. 9 No. 12
Religion has been a part of society for thousands of years and touches every life on the globe. Despite this, religious non-affiliation is one of the fastest growing religious identities, and is currently the third largest globally. There has been... Read Article »
2011, Vol. 3 No. 07
American culture is saturated with messages propagated by mass media. What was originally created for encouraging consumerism is now being promoted to a society that is being consumed by the messages themselves. Mass media is especially harmful... Read Article »
2012, Vol. 4 No. 08
Sports are an essential and important aspect of American society; they are indispensible when it comes to their impact on a plethora of public arenas, including economics and the mass media. Sport coincides with community values and political agencies... Read Article »
2017, Vol. 9 No. 03
The Conceptual Access-Network Thesis proposed suggests that the development or success of any new internet-based product, service, or technology will ultimately be contingent upon how well it satisfies the criterion of providing access to or creating... Read Article »
2017, Vol. 9 No. 03
Not long after J.K. Rowling published the first Harry Potter book on June 26, 1997, The Boy Who Lived exploded into an international phenomenon. Teachers read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to wide-eyed students and parents read it... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 8 No. 11
The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – also known as ISIL, IS and Daesh – has during the last years disseminated videos throughout the Internet in a new recruitment and media strategy focusing on the destruction of cultural... Read Article »

What are you looking for?

FROM OUR BLOG

How to Manage a Group Project (Video)
How to Read for Grad School
Writing a Graduate School Personal Statement