The Generation Myth

by | Sep 3, 2020 | Longevity

I was recently asked to speak at a conference for a bunch of executives in the toy business about millennials (the generation most often categorized as being born between 1981 and 1996) and as I was presenting to this audience of 900 or more I caught myself thinking….”Is this whole thing a myth?” Yes I was talking to myself in my head whilst simultaneously speaking to the group in front of me – try it sometime – you might be surprised at how efficient your are at multi-tasking! I went on to further the internal dialogue by contemplating whether the societal narrative stating that millennials are lazy, job changers, insecure, unmotivated, etc – was just some idea that was conceptualized in a random researchers head and popularized by keen marketers and the media? After much debate, still only happening subconsciously in my head, I decided that there was a distinct likelihood that this might be the case. But how could an expert Gerontologist be fooled so easily and convinced that all of the monikers attached to the millennial generation were actually empirically proven? Armed with this doubt I decided to set out and prove my hypothesis that “millennials are actually upstanding members of society” (even though they are still young) by taking a deep dive into how the term millennial even came into existence. According to Wikipedia (the definitive source) authors William Strauss and Neil Howe are widely credited with naming the millennials. They coined the term in 1991 (some say 1987), around the time children born in 1982 were entering kindergarten, and the media outlets were first identifying their prospective link to the impending new millennium as the high school graduating class of 2000. But here’s the crazy part….the entire set of conclusions that they drew around millennials (and their characteristics) were drawn from the following research…..