It has become increasingly, aggravatingly clear to me that pretty much everyone over the age of 40 has adopted the use of the word “Millennial” in reference to any person younger than they are – particularly those they don’t agree with. Those pesky Parkland kids fighting to take away your semi-automatic weapons? Millennials. The 16-year-old riding an electric scooter the wrong way into traffic without a helmet? Millennial. Astonishingly progressive 29-year-old senator you like to read mean-spirited tweets about? Millennial. College kids throwing a rager next door until all hours? Millennials.
I hate (no I don’t) to burst your bubble, but only one of those is right.
First off, may I be so bold as to suggest that you all sound like Mr. Wilson from “Dennis the Menace,” obsessing over whether that pesky neighbor kid has gone and trampled on his lawn. And if you’re too aged for that reference, perhaps envision yourself as Mr. Magoo. It tracks.
Allow me to remind you, as I have previously told all five of you loyal Millennial Pulse readers, that Millennials were, by the broadest definition, born between 1981 and 1996. Any person you meet between the ages of 22 to 37 is, whether they like it or not, defined as a Millennial. (And truth be told, some of them decidedly do NOT like it. Millennial denial – a subject for another day.)
Teenagers are not Millennials. Elementary school students are not Millennials. But young (read: pre-40) adults of drinking age are Millennials. The family pushing their baby in a stroller down the block, they’re not pushing a Millennial around. They’re the Millennials. People younger than us are part of Generation Z, or what some people are calling “post-Millennials,” which seems unfair. They should get their own name. But anyway: capeesh?
The root of the problem is that, as all older generations have done before them, Gen X-ers, Baby Boomers and even some among the Silent Generation (although my personal experience with the latter is that they’ve lost track of the delineations between generations because they have figured out that we’re all equally messed up and promptly stopped caring) like to use the phrase “Millennials” as a catch-all descriptor for younger people who annoy them. They quickly cast all social media-obsessed selfie takers blocking the entrance to their favorite restaurants as Millennials in an attempt to make the phrase synonymous with all that they find wrong with the world, or with all that’s changing that they cannot and do not wish to cope with. Instead, they resort to casting dispersions that imply society has gone to pot.
To which I say: Hi, Baby Boomers? How did your folks feel about your hippie/beatnik phases? And Gen-Xers, did your mom approve of your hair metal /mall-crazed/Madonna-reminiscent-bustier-wearing/MTV watching days? Who do you think you sound like when you’re beating up on Millennials?
If you’re still confused, or perhaps have a complete inability to tell the difference between an adult and a high school student just by looking at them, I’ve created a handy reference guide for you.
The young person annoying you/offending you/obtruding in your otherwise blissful reality is NOT a Millennial if:
- They were not alive on 9/11.
- They don’t know what a VCR is.
- They have never seen a floppy disk.
- They do not unleash a squeal of nostalgic glee upon hearing a song by one of the following ’90s musical sensations: Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Destiny’s Child, the Spice Girls, Boyz II Men, Usher, etc.
- They are a fictional character on the hit TV show, “Riverdale.”
- They do not understand the significance of a white Ford Bronco or a stained blue dress.
- They cannot drink alcohol legally.
- They have no idea what a Pog is, or how to use it.
- They do not immediately form a line and jump to the left upon hearing the first notes of the “Cha Cha Slide.”
The young(ish) person brightening up your life is probably a Millennial if they meet three or more of the following criteria:
- They have an inexplicable love for Jeff Goldblum.
- They won’t listen to your advice, but they WILL listen to Marie Kondo, the Queer Eye guys, or anyone with a lifestyle show on Netflix. Just not you – unless you get a Netflix show.
- They prefer Carson Daly over Ryan Seacrest.
- They don’t have a Twitter account but they do have a Facebook account, which they frequently use to remind their friends that Facebook is infringing on our privacy and is morally bankrupt, but also to post pics of their baby and/or fur baby because that seems fine.
- They say “like” every other word.
- They play a character on the hit TV show, “Riverdale.”
- They stop to look for the triangle symbol before throwing something in the recycling bin. And they rinse it out first.
- They learned how to use computers with Frogger and the Oregon Trail.
- They expect respect in the workplace/in general polite society just for being there and because they’re human, instead of feeling they must earn it. They do not agree that this equates to entitlement.
- They remember when PCs were as ubiquitous as iMacs are now.
- They know about MySpace Tom, LiveJournal, and Xanga.
- They at some point in time owned, or begged you for, a Neopet, Furby or Tickle Me Elmo. They might deny this.
- They can’t afford a house but have been old enough to buy one for years.
Keep it in your pocket, whether you’re young enough to save it to your bookmarks on your smartphone, or you’re at the age where you have to print everything you read.