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Op-Ed: Millennials are the ambiguous generation

By Joe Duarte     Mar 16, 2014 in Lifestyle
They are described as selfish, socially aware and suppressed – a generation of professionals who care more about themselves or their community or nothing at all. They belong to Generation Y, collectively referred to as Millennials.
It is estimated that Generation Y ranks number 80 million in the U.S. and perhaps more than any previous generation, it doesn’t seem to have cohesive characteristics or beliefs that define them as a group. About the only thing Millennials seem to have in common is that they were born between the early ’80s and the turn of the Millennium.
They grew up in a world of rapidly-changing technological development, where a wealth of information available at their computer-keyboard fingertips meant they were able to be better informed than their predecessors — Generation X or the MTV Generation (born between the early ’60s and early ’80s), Baby Boomers (born between the end of World War II and ’60s)and the Silent Generation (born during the Great Depression and World War II) — but how they’ve used that information for personal advancement is a matter of opinion.
A recent Pew Research Centre study concludes Millennials don’t subscribe to any political or religious ideologies, are generally distrustful of others (only 19% surveyed believe people are generally trustworthy) and in no rush to get tied into a family unit (just 26% are married), are intrinsically tied to social media (81% are on Facebook, with a median of 250 “friends”), and they’re in debt (two-thirds of BA recipients are carrying an average $27,000 in debt). They are racially diverse with liberal views (supporting marijuana legalization and gay marriage), but do not completely subscribe to the Liberal agenda. And though they have an optimistic outlook of the future, 51% believe they will receive nothing from Social Security on their retirements.
However, Millennials have also been labeled Generation Me in relation to their perceived sense of entitlement. This is not the first time a generation has been labeled such, with Baby Boomers also being labeled the Me Generation in relation to their hedonistic behavior during the ’70s.
A study headed by Generation Me author Jean Wenge compared different generations and showed Millennials strive to be financially well off, are less likely to donate to charities, care less about environmental initiatives and are less likely to vote than other generations did at the same ages. And although they are more likely than their predecessors to participate in school community initiatives (much of it required in order to graduate), they are less likely to want to work in social service organizations or to show empathy for outgroups.
A Flowtown infographic illustrates how ambiguous Millennials are, with no clear-cut majority presented in terms of Generation Y's values, attitudes or even characteristics.
About the only thing all studies of Generation Y indicate is that it’s a generation more segregated along regional, racial and socio-economic differences. Although those differences may not be as prominent (or violent) as they were especially for the Baby Boomer generation, the boundaries still exist in the minds of Millennials.
Many say that’s understandable due to the racial diversity, but others say it’s a result of the generation’s overwhelming sense of entitlement — maybe the defining character trait that seems to transcend how Millennials were raised, where they live and what they do for a living.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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