The Greatest Generation had a name that was, wait for it, great. Baby Boomers and Generation X had names that were easily remembered and identifiable. But what is up with the Millennial Generation? We call them lots of names: Gen Y, Gen Why?, Gen Next, The Internet Generation, Baby Boomlets, Echo Boomers, MyPod Generation, etc.
We can’t particularly define what a Millennial is or even agree on the ages. Pew Research says Millennials were born between 1981-1996. The US Census Bureau says 1982-2000. CNN has reported two different date ranges; 1981-1996 and 1980-2000. Author Neil Howe, co-creator of the Strauss-Howe generational theory, says Millennials were born between 1982-2004.
So I’m not surprised that no one can agree on what to call the leading edge of Generation Y, people born between 1980-1985. They’re known as Cuspers, Xennials, and the Oregon Trail Generation. This past week I learned a new phrase to describe this group. Caution, this may make your head literally spin; Geriatric Millennial. Apparently, people born in the early 1980s now need to be isolated and ostracized from their younger cousins, because they were born before AOL and Commodore 64 became household names.
So what exactly does it mean to be a Millennial? If I take the generally accepted dates and apply them to my kids, born in 1998 and 2002, that means my daughter Hattie is a Millennial and my son Jack is Gen Z. According to sociologists they are separated by an entire generation, yet only four years apart in age. Yes, they are very different people, as anyone would expect — and that’s OK.
However, I believe they share more characteristics with each other than their respective generational cohorts. They’re both really smart. They’re creative, resilient, and can learn anything by watching YouTube. They take everything I say literally….everything. They master technology and are consumed by TikTok. They use every single app on their iPhones except the phone itself. (If you’re reading this, kids, call your father). They care passionately about politics, even though they may be on opposite sides of the political spectrum.
And whatever the label they get, I’m so proud of both of them. However, the coolest generation is Gen X. Never forget this. #Literally