Is the millennial generation entitled?
Well, that depends highly on who you ask.
Most individuals who fall in the 20-year age gap of being born after 1980 and came of age in the new millenia would argue no. After all, studies such as “Today’s young workers are more likely than ever to have a bachelor’s degree” by PewResearch.org state “4 in 10 millennial workers ages 25 to 29 had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2016, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Current Population Survey data. That compares with 32 percent of Generation X workers and smaller shares of the Baby Boom and Silent generations when they were in the same age range.”
When you compare these facts with news reports such as the one by CNBC’s “More college students are working while studying,” which cites a study from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce that states, “over the past 25 years, more than 70 percent of college students have worked while attending school,” then this seems extremely unlikely.
Afterall, an entitled individual is unlikely to work full time at a dead-end job while attending college full time to obtain a higher education — especially if you factor in the endless student debt that comes with that much-desired degree.
But there is an even bigger problem than questioning if millennials are entitled. And that’s the fact that questions like these lump millennials together in one category.
So what if the question wasn’t “Is the millennial generation entitled?” but rather, “Is any generation entitled?”
Adam Conover of Adam Ruins Everything argued this point at the Deep Shift millennial marketing conference by holding a talk titled “Millennials Don’t Exist.”
Conover didn’t argue the fact that there are people who are born within a certain amount of years, but rather argued against the idea of this age meaning there is a way to market to an entire demographic defined purely on their age and the image cultivated of millennials. Conover brought forth the many labels routinely placed on the generation and argued members of “previous generations” routinely see the younger generation as entitled, regardless of whether there are any facts attached to this viewpoint.
“It’s not as though every Boomer gave birth to a Gen Xer, gave birth to a Millennial. This is just like an artificial way to divide it up,” Conover told the audience at the conference. “There are Boomers whose kids are also Boomers and there are Millennials whose kids are Millennials. Imagine that right now. There are Millennials with little baby Millennials — it's bizarre.”
After going through the demographics he pointed out they show one thing: that there are just people, a whole a lot of people who are alive at the same time, he said.
The unflattering descriptions attached to the current millennial generation he states are ones attached to most generations by previous generations.
Despite what many of us may think, the term, “back in my day,” was not coined by our grandparents. At one point every generation was termed the young generation and considered irresponsible by someone.
In fact as all “millennials” became of age to vote as of 2016 then many who turned 18 in 2017 are not technically “millennials” and yet memes or ideology applying to 16 and 17 year olds are often connected to the idea of what a millennial is.
Conover cites studies showing the basics that connect the millennial generation, such as diversity, and that millennials earn less than their older peers before the recession and have 60 percent lower wage growth.
But these connections are thin threads at best. Even among my siblings, all of which are in my generation, there are differences. I’ve never touched Snapchat, but my sister is on it seemingly all the time, and yet the obsession with this social media platform is one often connected to millennials. Even deeper than this is the idea of what a millennial is.
There are many who would be dubbed millennials that have lead such radically different lifestyles that putting them in the category of entitled millennial borders on absurd.
For instance, take a child of a wealthy, middle-class family who was raised with all the technology the world has to offer at their fingertips and compare that person to an individual of the same age who was raised with a stay-at-home mom, multiple siblings and a father who struggles to pay the bills.
Are they both entitled just because they happen to belong to the same generation?
Pewresearch.org states they use age cohorts to give researchers a tool to analyze changes in views over time.
“While younger and older adults may differ in their views at a given moment, age cohorts allow researchers to go further and examine how today’s older adults felt about a given issue when they, themselves were young, as well as to describe how the trajectory of views might differ across age cohorts,” the site states.
So while we are connected by being part of a same generation, the largest value in this connection isn’t really so others may judge all within that generation, but rather so we can compare and contrast how other generations felt and responded to the issues we face today in the past.
Nichole Harwood is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers alumni and art features. The views presented in this column are her own. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Nolidoli1.