When’s a Millennial?

IORMA-Millennials-1-1

When it comes to when Millennials were born, everyone online has an opinion. So I might as well have one too, right? Most people I hear prattling on about “Millennials” don’t actually know many Millennials, don’t have a proven track record leading and influencing Millennials, and don’t have a misspent adulthood reading blogs, articles, and books on Millennials. I give myself an A+ in all three (that’s how it works, right?) and I felt entitled to my own opinion. So here’s a snapshot (a selfie?) of when we were born. Let’s get to the bottom of “When’s a Millennial?”

who_why-copy
A generic range, 1980-2000, crops up in plenty of infographics

When’s a Millennial?

Millennials were born from 1982 to 2004. I’m an authority in such matters, so you can trust me.

If you Google Millennials, you’ll find out that they were born anywhere from 1357 to 2985. Okay, just kidding. Sort of. People are all over the map so I decided to solve this one once and for all. Starting with the all important question, who the heck named us “Millennials” to begin with? Because they get bragging and defining rights, as far as I’m concerned.

104176074-GettyImages-535467563

Millennial kickoff: 1982

Turns out generation experts Neil Howe and William Strauss coined the word “Millennial” and put the start date at 1982, because those born then and after would come of age in the new Millennium. Smarties.

Now, to address your objections.

Yes, there were early birds people born before 1982 that already had Millennial tendencies. Yes, there were people born after 1982 who still had Gen X hangovers tendencies. And yes, every generation has outliers lost in the middle who feel like they don’t belong to the generation they were born it.

101648_Who-are-Millennials_Facebook_071917-1024x536
Image from The College Investor

It doesn’t matter.

It only takes 51% to establish a majority, after all. Any generational tendency might be true even if 49% of people born in that period don’t fit. If 49% of Millennials had green skin and 51% had purple, people could say, “Millennials as a generation tend to have purple skin.” That’s just how generations work. Sorry if you don’t feel like you belong – you’re still us.

The early 1980s saw a large shift in how people raised kids. Parents became overprotective in the extreme. Part of this was increased technology – bigger weapons, faster cars, more danger. Part of this was increased media – there were always wars, murders, disasters, but now you saw live footage in your living room every day of all the bad out there. Part of this was a revolt from the way they were raised; young Boomers and old Gen Xers weren’t coddled as kids, they grew up as latchkeys, half of them in divorced households with a busy single parent. They decided to raise their kids differently – they were going to be there for everything and provide them everything.

So 1982 is as good a year as any – this is when we really started seeing kids raised differently (and over-protectively) on a massive scale across the nation.

Millennials2

Millennial finale: 2004

The end date chosen by Strauss and Howe is fairly fitting as well.

Some pontificate on how Millennials end somewhere in the mid-90s. But, no generation is that short. And, nothing really happened to change parenting attitudes or how we as a society raise and educate children in the mid-90s. Kids born in 1998 are just like kids born in 1992. Except they carried CD players instead of Walkmans.

Any start/end date will be somewhat arbitrary, but the chosen date needs to coincide with a change in child-raising, otherwise kids being born would have the same old attitudes and tendencies. Something has to change in upbringing to affect how they turn out – something that makes them turn out strikingly different from what came before yet strikingly similar to each other.

635902894410269405-1853855987_millennials-writing

2004 is sandwiched between two major events that did change how we raise kids.

In 2001, the 9/11 attacks shocked the nation. We all remember where we were when the Twin Towers fell – it was our generation’s JFK assassination, our generation’s Challenger moment. While many of our parents in the 80s and 90s sought to provide us with unbridled opportunity in addition to abundant material possession and smothering affection, many parents in the 2000s started to temper that with more caution – being simply “overprotective” doesn’t cut it in a world where work isn’t even safe. It’s a terrifying world we live in; and that terror is here, not just “over there” as seen through our televisions.

twin towers

On the other side of the 2004 end date, the 2008 financial crisis. One way to look at it, if you’re too young to remember how the 2008 collapse affected your childhood, you might not be a Millennial anymore. In the aftermath, 5 trillion dollars in pensions, real estate value, 401k, savings, and bonds evaporated. 8 million Americans lost their jobs, 6 million lost their homes. The loss of savings, loss of jobs, loss of retirements, loss of homes drastically affects the way a nation raises its kids.

But also, where it places its trust.

In a lot of ways, 9/11 made us look outward with distrust, it made us feel insecure even in our overprotective homes. 2008 made us look inward the same way. The current environment of anti-institution (don’t trust media, banks, colleges, government, police forces, scientists… dare I say, churches?) emerged from these two events, book-ending the transition from one generation to the next. Those who came of age around 9/11 and those who were old enough to remember how 2008 affected their communities were forged in the same fire.

millennials_0

We’ll have plenty more articles down the road on Millennials as well as observations of how they differ from what came before and what’s coming next. Until then, thanks for reading! You now know who we mean when we say “Millennials.” If you want to know more about what we mean when we say “Rogues,” check here:

What’s a Rogue?

About Our Name

10 thoughts on “When’s a Millennial?

Add yours

  1. This was really interesting. I knew the years, but I didn’t know why they chose to call is millennials. It makes perfect sense now that I know the reasoning.

    I’ve never thought a whole lot about researching generational characteristics and differences.

    Looking forward to reading more about millennials.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! I think generation stuff isn’t something we normally think on – but when we hear about it, our attention is immediately fascinated.
      On one hand, we don’t want to stereotype – assuming everyone is the same, has the same tendencies and values, or should act the same. Yet it’s neat to find out why we have so much in common with people born in temporal proximity to us.
      I just started reading and listening to different theories on Gen Z. (Or whatever they end up being called – some suggest “Homeland Generation” because they were born after 9/11 into a culture that often wants to stay home instead of travel, that values the homeland over intervening elsewhere in the world).
      It’s all rather fascinating to me. But I try to remind myself, Millennials are probably one of the first generations to be molded by the knowledge they are in fact a distinct generation with similar tendencies.
      Take Generation X, for instance. The generation ended around 1984 but the name “Generation X” wasn’t applied to it until a 1991 book by Douglas Coupland. They may have always known they were different from their parents – but they didn’t have a “generational identity” to wear around and write about!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for this post. I am raising twin Millennials. 9/11 definitely impacted my parenting, and it took a while for me to start questioning the onslaught of babyproofing and kidproofing hysteria that seemed to pervade the culture.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome! And thank you for contributing to the conversation! It’s awesome to hear from people who raise and mentor Millennials! Doing youth work in the 1990s and early 2000s, people were paranoid about everything – the bubble-wrap approach to safety was the norm. Don’t do anything risky.
      9/11 was one of many things that showed us how false our sense of safety is – and reminded us we need to give youth in the church a real view of the world alongside experiences that challenge their sense of comfort. A lot of us Millennials are seeking practical faith outside of church walls precisely because pizza parties weren’t doing it for us! We knew what we were being taught was largely irrelevant when we took it out into the world – and we suspected God wanted to call us to so much more! We need churches to challenge our thinking and give us real service to do!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s definitely room for debate! I listened to a Moody Radio talk today that defined Millennials as ending in 1999. But they didn’t have any compelling reasons or evidence on how kids born in the early 2000s differ from us Mills. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As a follow up, just read a great article about how the i-technology revolution may be the thing that people look back on as a dividing line between Millennials and GenZ. Again, no hard line dates are easy to assign. But iphones came out in 2007, the financial crisis occurred 2008-2009, ipads came out in 2010, and in 2012 we hit the point where 50% of Americans owned a smartphone – including kids.
    The ability to sit at home and do everything, to be in constant communication without having to go out to hang out, the troubles that come with never socially interacting and being locked onto a screen all day, the depression and stress that can result from constant media bombardment coupled with only seeing the positive skew of things people post online – is forming a younger generation that does actually look different than Millennials. But that shift influences people who were born in the mid-2000’s and were becoming kids with smartphones in the 2010’s.

    Like

  4. I was born IN 2000, so I’ve never known if I was a Millennial or Gen Y. Still not too sure, honestly, haha, but this was a cool summary that made me think more about it for sure.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m going to bet you’re like me. I was born in ’84 and feel like I’m half GenX and half Millennial. You were born close to a generational border – so you likely feel half Millennial but half “something else” – whatever we get around to naming them!
      One of the blessings (and curses) of being on a generational border is you get to lead the charge into something new. It’s a blessing because you’re not just a follower – you’re forging new paths, new ways to view the world, new solutions to old problems left by generations before. It’s a curse because you’re working to upset the status quo and older people will tend to resist that change. “The first person through the wall always gets bloodied” is an apt phrase for us sometimes!

      Like

      1. I think I agree with your assessment, Jared. Millennials/GenX have a bunch of unflattering stereotypes (that unfortunately are usually accurate) that my future bosses and teachers will view me through. That stinks, but it gives me and others like me a chance to prove ourselves and, like you said, break down the walls. It may hurt, but it will also bring freedom.
        Cool thoughts. 😀

        Liked by 2 people

Join the Discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: