April 24, 2017

"Don’t Call Me a Millennial — I’m an Old Millennial."

Jesse Singal notices the old millennial/young millennial distinction. He doesn't identify with those under-29 millennials and those are the millennials that people talking about millennials tend to be talking about. I don't know why he draws the old/young line between 29 and 28, but he does.

In my day, we used to say "Don't trust anybody over 30," and I understand the sensitivity about who feels as though they're actually in your generation. I grew up as a Baby Boomer, always knowing I was a Baby Boomer, and then — rather recently — seeing Baby Boomer defined as anyone born from 1946 to 1964. Sorry, but people who were babies in the 60s never felt like Baby Boomers to me. You're talking about people who don't remember Elvis as a new and exciting phenomenon, didn't live through the Kennedy assassination, don't remember the arrival of The Beatles, never faced (or had classmates who faced) the draft, and did not learn about sex when abortion was a crime? They're not my generation.

But what are the big differences between old and young millennials?
“Early millennials grew up in an optimistic time and were then hit by the recession, whereas late millennials had their worldview made more realistic by experiencing the recession while during their formative years,” explained [social psychologist Jean] Twenge. According to Twenge, this has led to certain differences between older and younger millennials that manifest in the data. 
Jeesh. What a dreary distinction!
For example, she’s found some evidence from survey data that younger millennials “are more practical — they are more attracted to industries with steady work and are more likely to say they are willing to work overtime” than older ones. Us Old Millennials could afford to develop views on work and work-life balance that were a bit more idealistic.

Then there are smartphones and social media, which hit the two halves of the generation in massively different ways. “Unlike [Young Millennials],” wrote [Juliet] Lapidos, “I am not a true digital native. The Internet wasn’t a fact of nature. I had to learn what it was and how to use it. I wrote letters home when I was at summer camp. I didn’t have a mobile phone until I was 19.” For us Old Millennials, the social aspects of our middle- and high-school-years were lived mostly offline....
Yeah. Sounds massive all right. Millennials.

43 comments:

buwaya said...

This is what happens when you have to deal with only boring people in focus groups.

A mixed focus group of Yanomamo Indians and feminist academics would be interesting. Why don't people do what we groundlings would find entertaining?

J. Farmer said...

This is an inherent problem with demographic cohorts. Both of my parents were born in the mid- to late-50s and are thus considered "baby boomers." Yet, they were basically preteens or just teens in 1969 and instead came of age more in the mid- to late-1970s. Thus they have very little connection with the 1960s counterculture or antiwar movements, both of which are practically synonymous with "baby boomer" these days.

People, like me, who were born in the early 1980s, are really caught between Generation X and Millenials. My peer group came of age in the 1990s, not the 2000s, which puts us before things like social media and constant connectedness that have come to be seen as defining traits of Millenials.

LYNNDH said...

Yep, I am an Old Baby Boomer, born Oct, '46. You forgot to mention the start of the Space Race with Sputnik and then the true fearless Hero's, the early Astronauts (no not the band from Boulder, CO) and the assignation of not only JFK but of RFK and MLK.
My folks actually PAID for a second phone so I could have one in my room. God, am I old or what.

Michael K said...

The "Baby Boomers" that I recognize as a real cohort were born when the fathers came home from the war and, in gratitude for being allowed to survive, spoiled the kids rotten. I have even read that Baby Boomers as a group are all sociopaths.

I don't go that far but they were spoiled rotten.

Bob R said...

P.J. O'Rourke divided the Boomers into four (high school) classes. Althouse is a senior, I'm a sophomore. Althouse is expressing the opinion that freshmen are not really a part of the school at all. Not a bad analogy, P.J.

Crimso said...

My mother was born in 46, and I was born in 64, so I enjoy pointing out that my mother and I are both Baby Boomers. Technically correct, but I've never actually felt like the term applied to me. I don't have a name for my generation. And that's okay.

Rob McLean said...

This was the year when I (born 1965) officially stopped blaming boomers for everything and started blaming millenials.

Ambrose said...

Since people are born every day, the notion that separate generations exist is a little silly.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"Sorry, but people who were babies in the 60s never felt like Baby Boomers to me. You're talking about people who don't remember Elvis as a new and exciting phenomenon, didn't live through the Kennedy assassination, don't remember the arrival of The Beatles, never faced (or had classmates who faced) the draft, and did not learn about sex when abortion was a crime? They're not my generation."

I'm one of those tail end boomers and I agree. I was in grade school in '68. I always think of the older boomers as the "60's generation."

I think we do share many of the same cultural references because I remember things like watching the Stones on the Ed Sullivan show and the moon landing and we listened to a lot of 60's music in the '70's but for me the markers of my adolescence were Watergate, the oil embargo, and the bad economy of the Carter years.

I think the attitude of the tail end boomers toward the older ones was a mixture of envy ("gee, they got to be hippies and they had Woodstock and all these cool stuff going on and we have - disco? The Waltons?") and resentment, because the economic outlook was so bleak in the late 70's. We were constantly being told how much less idealistic we were compared to you guys because we worried about mundane stuff like getting jobs.

readering said...

I'm a boomer. Elvis was a new thing when I was a new thing.

traditionalguy said...

There seems to be a "collective Unconscious" that morphs as huge events intervene into the conscious world. And the year 1945 was a whopper of a year in that regard. The next big one was 1967. Followed by 2000.

mgarbowski said...

The rationale for calling people boomers through 1964 is that is when the WW II generation stopped having kids in meaningful numbers. That makes sense as a measure of the actual baby boom, but almost everyone agrees that it makes no sense as a cultural delineation. I'm another late boomer born in 1962. I missed the 50s; I was a kid for the Beatles, Woodstock, summer of love and Vietnam war; When the boomer college reunion nostalgia movie The Big Chill was released, I was in college; when "30 something" was cancelled, I was in my 20s. I have nothing on common with the boomers and culturally consider myself Gen X.

tim in vermont said...

Sorry, but people who were babies in the 60s never felt like Baby Boomers to me

I have never felt like a Baby Boomer either. Not Gen X either though, but I felt more sympathy with Gen X than the Boomers who were my older siblings, for example. Elvis was always an old guy, for one thing.

Tari said...

He's a Millennial all right. "Everything about me is special! Don't label me - I'm my own person!" Gah.

traditionalguy said...

Boomers had a sense of giving back to the community that probably started to deal with the trauma the entire world faced in the aftermath of WWII. We had to find something good in it.

The Genxers came next and had no idea why selfishness should not be the only rule.

Oh Yea said...

Born in '56, so I "don't remember Elvis as a new and exciting phenomenon". I remember him as some guy in Vegas along with Howard Hughes. His biggest hit on the radio was "In the Ghetto". In first grade I lived through John Kennedy's assassination, Pope John XXIII dying, (went to Catholic schools) and watched The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Not much impressed by the Beatles because you couldn't hear the music with all the teenage girls screaming. By the time I was really listen to music the biggest thing about the Beatles was all the Paul is dead conspiracy stuff and their music was already playing on the Soft FM elevator music station.

The assassination of MLK and RFK had more impact on me along with watching, the race riots, Chicago Democratic Convention and Kent State on TV. And always thought abortion was abhorrent even when I wavered in practicing my Catholic faith. Thought people said don't trust anyone over 30 were fools because they would be 30 long before I would. Woodstock was something my older cousin went to and I listened to the album with my friends and saw the pictures in Life magazine. Nothing that looked like much fun to me.
I was one of the last to get a draft card, but that was in '74 and the draft had been suspended a year or two before so it was no traumatic event. You actually wanted your draft card because it was proof you were old enough to get in bars.
So Ann I am not of your generation either.

C Stanley said...

The Genxers came next and had no idea why selfishness should not be the only rule.

Not sure I agree with the premise of the Baby Boomers wanting to give back, but I've always felt they threw away all the rules without realizing how much of their moral foundation had been formed by those rules, and then wondered why the later generations have floundered.

A perfect example of Chesterton's fence.

tim in vermont said...

Boomers had a sense of giving back to the community that probably started to deal with the trauma the entire world faced in the aftermath of WWII. We had to find something good in it.

Like imposing the very same state-centric ideologies that led to the wars in the first place. You made me spit my coffee with that post.

Michael K said...

"Boomers had a sense of giving back to the community "

Yeah, drugs, sex and rock n roll. That what they gave back.

I was dealing with idiot medical students in the late 60s and early 70s.

What a self absorbed bunch most of them were !

The Godfather said...

Ann, I'm a pre-Boomer, born in 1943 (my father was in the Army but not sent overseas -- he was on his way to the Pacific when the A-bombs were dropped), but I remember the same things you do. I think that we may be more influenced by our parents' experiences than by our own early lives. My folks were children during WWI, youngsters during the roaring '20's, and young adults during the Depression and WWII. They taught us the lessons they learned from those experiences.

D said...

I proudly belong to that wonderfullest generation that cannot abide anyone born more than 4 years prior, and would rather herd cats than deal with anyone born more than 2 years after.
You know who you are. And Yes, we spell it with two Ls.

tim maguire said...

Only the baby boomers and the children of the depression are true "generations." The rest of it is media laziness trying to keep an easy shorthand going as long as they can.

exiledonmainstreet said...

tim in vermont said:
Boomers had a sense of giving back to the community that probably started to deal with the trauma the entire world faced in the aftermath of WWII. We had to find something good in it."

The Pajama Media blogger Roger Simon (an early boomer) has a different take on it. He thinks the '60's generation denied the existence of evil, refused to face it, and took refuge in the "peace and love" cliches. He finds it astonishing that his own generation, born just a couple of years after Auschwitz shut down, could have been so willfully naive.

Maybe it would have been different if the WWII generation had spoken about the war. My parents were of that generation (My eldest sibling is Ann's age) and, like most WWII veterans, my dad never talked about the war. They were traumatized, tried to forget it and devoted themselves to creating an easier life for their children. I have the impression that for most of us, WWII was the Hollywood version on Late Night TV, not what our own fathers suffered though.

Michael K said...

My folks were children during WWI, youngsters during the roaring '20's, and young adults during the Depression and WWII. They taught us the lessons they learned from those experiences.

My mother was born in 1898 and remembered the sinking of the Titanic. I took her to the movie when it came out (She lived to 103) and she laughed at it, especially the sex scene in the car. She wrote letters to soldiers in WWI.

My father was in the navy in WWI at age 15.

They were engaged for ten years until they thought they could afford to get married.

My mother's father died when she was 18 months old. No insurance in those days. He was 50 when he died and had been born in 1849, so he was 11 when the Civil War began.

Kirk Parker said...

"assignation of not only JFK but of RFK and MLK."

That's gotta be Typo of the Month™!

n.n said...

Premeditated termination of a human life a.k.a. "elective abortion", is still a crime in civilized societies. It is unconstitutional to deny basic human rights, including the right to life, to "our Posterity" for causes of wealth, pleasure, leisure, narcissistic indulgence, and democratic leverage. Both baby hunts and baby trials, and clinical cannibalism, are considered crimes against humanity by scientific evidenced-based, religious/moral people. Only the adoption of a Pro-Choice quasi-religious cult by liberal judges, normalization by progressive activists, and the threat of violence, has managed to force establishment of a twilight faith in a reality-based community.

Roughcoat said...

I don't go that far but they were spoiled rotten.

Huh. I am unaware of being spoiled rotten by my parents. But perhaps this is a case of the bad machine not knowing it's a bad machine. I dunno. I could tell you stories about my childhood that would contradict your assertion, but I won't. My parents taught me: no special pleading, actions speak louder than words and are more reliable as an indicator of character.

MikeD said...

I guess I'm somewhat akin to the '20's "Lost Generation". I'm a "war baby", progeny of parents in their 30's & not part of the "greatest generation" as neither went to war. That said, I was blessed to grow to maturity in a culture of accomplishment. Regardless of the tho'ts of those who followed, the 50's were a time of belief in the individual's capacity. High school's had great trade programs, auto mechanics: body work:/welding/sheet metal (aka HVAC)/electrical (aka wiring anything, residential to, eventually, server farms) and rigorous programs in math/science/history/writing for those college bound (as a % of successful students in these college based programs, the young ladies/girls/womyn were equal to the oppressive male cisgender males). That said, boomers tore down this edifice and, it took several generations, gave us snowflakes! A pox on boomers & their progeny!

Zach said...

I get what he's saying, and I agree with it. I'm probably closer to a late Gen-Xer than an early Millenial, but for me the cultural touchstones are the Cold War, the dot-com boom / bust, and 9/11.

I think a true Millenial is someone who was a child when 9/11 happened. Maybe they remember the event, but it was something that only affected them indirectly.

grimson said...

" . . . and then — rather recently — seeing Baby Boomer defined as anyone born from 1946 to 1964."

What? Baby boomers have been defined as those born between 1946 and 1964 for decades. It defines a demographic, not a shared culture.

traditionalguy said...

Exiled...You may not know it but you just picked up on what I said about the entire culture birthing us Boomers being in a struggle to deal with the horrors of The War . As the kids are conceived and nurtured by those that needed to use their kids as proof they had survived and were normal people with normal families, not the monsters they had been forced to be for 4 years.

The catharsis need was dominant in culture for 10 years. The Film Noir violence, the The Caine Mutiny, and Mister Roberts and other films attempted to talk about the War. And the Westerns were suddenly mini war stories, such as Hondo, Stagecoach and High Noon. And Sci Fi aliens and Atomic Bomb mutant monsters all somehow over come by Science.

But the kids sensed the continued affect from our parents going through those War years and we tried to help them.

The neighbor next door one day told us about Sherman Tanks in France being slaughter 10 to 1 by a single Tiger Tank's gun and armor. They won by it by attrition dying 10 times as fast.

Bruce Hayden said...

"My mother was born in 1898 and remembered the sinking of the Titanic. I took her to the movie when it came out (She lived to 103) and she laughed at it, especially the sex scene in the car. She wrote letters to soldiers in WWI.."

Interesting, the generations. All my GRANDparents were born in the 1890s, yet, you are maybe a half generation older. You appear to be working more these days than I.

Bruce Hayden said...

"I grew up as a Baby Boomer, always knowing I was a Baby Boomer, and then — rather recently — seeing Baby Boomer defined as anyone born from 1946 to 1964."

I don't see the Baby Boom, the "pig in the python", starting in 1946, but a couple years later, in maybe 1948 or 1949. The problem, demographically, is that the Baby Boom is unique to the Anglosphere, and in particular, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (partly, because our civilian populations mostly didn't experience the war first hand). Apparently, there was a little bump in births in 1946, with the returning soldiers around the world making up for lost time. But then there was a dropoff, only for the baby population to explode in the very late 1940s. I think, to some extent, what happened, at least here, was the returning military came back, got married, finished their educations through the GI Bill, then started to have their families. At least that was the story in the upper middle class neighborhood I grew up in - father was a returning vet, who finished his education, and started having his family in the very late 1940s, really about 1950.

One of the interesting aspects of this is that the anomaly demographically was not really the Baby Boom, but the previous generation, the one born after WW I. Apparently, if you graph family size, or maybe better, children birthed per family, from the Revolution up through the Baby Boom, there is a fairly steady decrease through time, with the exception of the Greatest Generation. But maybe the bigger factor than family size, per se, was the marriage rate, which was apparently low for the generation that fought WW I. And that was really one of the things that drastically changed for the Greatest Generation after WW II, the marriage rate - everyone got married and tried to have kids, whereas in their parents' generation, there were a large number of maiden aunts and uncles. There have been claims that this wasn't accidental, that our govt made a conscious effort (along with the MSM of the time) to get the women, who had stepped into the workforce, when the men went to war, back out, so the returning men would have jobs. And that meant getting them married and having families (having families was crucial - for example, my mother quit work shortly before her first child (me) was born). It worked.

Bruce Hayden said...

The other problem with starting the Baby Boom at 1946, is that, for the most part, those born right after the war were different than those of us born later. I was born a couple months before Ann, and dated a woman born in 1946. And in those 4 years, there was a generational gap that I did not see with the woman I married who was 9 years younger. And maybe part of that was the Vietnam War. They fought it, but we felt it, because the fighting was the bloodiest when we were in our most impressionable years - for many of us, teenagers. And from this, the generation flexed its demographic muscles, rejecting that war, and turning to sex, drug, and rock and roll (see, there is a place for the Oxford comma). I could also see the generation line in my fraternity. The seniors, when I was a freshman, were early post war babies (maybe 1947 or so), and were the tail end of a tradition where everyone was clean cut, everyone dressed for Sunday dinner and meetings, some physical hazing was expected of initiation, there was no inter visitation between the sexes, they still had house mothers to enforce this, etc. half my pledge class quit before initiation, and the physical hazing was eliminated for the rest of us. By graduation, the house mother was gone, inter visitation was 24 hours, Subday dinner was casual, drugs were common on campus, etc. Far bigger difference between the guys 3 years ahead of us than with the ones 3 years behind, the freshmen when we were seniors, and, indeed, with those 3 years younger.

Finally, with defining Baby Boom fairly narrowly, starting in the late 1940s, Obama may ultimately be our only Baby Boomer President, and a late one, if that. Crooked Hillary may have been pretty close, but Bill Clinton and GW Bush were really born too early to be Baby Boomers. Ditto for AlGore, JF Kerry, McCain, Romney, and, now, Trump. I have always found it interesting that this half generation, born from the late 1930s through late 1940s, maybe because of its small size, seemed to have done better all along the way than the actual Baby Boomers. Three Presidents, so far, most of our rock stars, etc. My tentative theory is that this Baby Bust was pushed ahead by the pig in the python right behind them. But, then later Boomers have always complained that the earlier Boomers (like me) had an easier time getting ahead.

mgarbowski said...

"Boomers had a sense of giving back to the community that probably started to deal with the trauma the entire world faced in the aftermath of WWII. We had to find something good in it.
The Genxers came next and had no idea why selfishness should not be the only rule."

In addition to everything I wrote above about being born in 1962 but not identifying as a Boomer, I also never had enough self-regard.

BN said...

"Generation" really is a social construct. All "generations" have blurred lines. The "baby boomers" are divided by demographers into older boomers and younger boomers (who are known as "Generation Jones"). Yes, their experiences may have been slightly different but the real difference is the age at which they were exposed--often by you--to all your shit such as drugs, sex, and rock and roll. Older boomers went off to college and got high, grew their hair long, had sex, and protested the war. Younger boomers grew up doing all that from the age of 12 and younger. Although they weren't teenagers when the Beatles arrived, they were still there beside you watching them on TV--they were just aged in the single digits. Although they were subject to the draft, they spent their childhood hearing nothing but Vietnam War.

Younger boomers are basically your little brothers and sisters. Are they not of your generation?

BN said...

"weren't subject to the draft"

BN said...

"Sociology is hard!"

Some Seppo said...

Generation Jones was coined to delineate the later members of the Baby Boom, me being one of them (nee 1959).

The name "Generation Jones" has several connotations, including a large anonymous generation, a "keeping up with the Joneses" competitiveness and the slang word "jones" or "jonesing", meaning a yearning or craving.[8][9][10][11] It is said[by whom?] that Jonesers were given huge expectations as children in the 1960s, and then confronted with a different reality as they came of age during a long period of mass unemployment and when de-industrialization arrived full force in the mid-late 1970s and 1980s, leaving them with a certain unrequited "jonesing" quality for the more prosperous days of the past.

Paco Wové said...

"We were constantly being told how much less idealistic we were compared to you guys because we worried about mundane stuff like getting jobs."

Another end-stage boomer here. What really cheesed me off about many older boomers – espcecially ones who managed to get themselves into popular media – was how they just would not shut up about how great the 60's were, like people who spend all week telling you what an awesome party you missed last weekend.

Craig Howard said...

Sorry, but people who were babies in the 60s never felt like Baby Boomers to me.

Heh. They're not like us older boomers to be sure. I was born in '53; my youngest brother in '64. He's definitely of a different generation. I suppose, though, the fact that his parents were of the WWII generation (the greatest one!) qualifies him.

This generation crap is dumb, isn't it.

Kate said...

I was born Nov. 2, 1963, 20 days before Kennedy was shot. My world view is, basically, a president can be assassinated. My kids, late Millennials, have 9/11 as their world view. When you can remember the world before and after a life-changing event, that's different from when you are wholly shaped by the moment.

Kirk Parker said...

tradguy,

" They won by it by attrition dying 10 times as fast."

If you look at the overall casualty figures, that's only true for the Soviets.