Sign up FAST! Login

Wait, What, I’m a Millennial? -

Stashed in: Young Americans

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Why so surprised?

Anyone born between 1981 and 1997 has been thrust into that category, and I was born in 1983. The label doesn’t feel right. I don’t identify with the kids that Time magazine described as technology-addled narcissists, the Justin Bieber fans who “boomerang” back home instead of growing up.

The concept of a generation used to refer only to families — parents versus children. In the 19th century, philosophers began to promote the idea of social generations with different mentalities. “Anybody born only a decade earlier or later might have become a completely different person as far as his own education and sphere of action are concerned,” Goethe argued in 1811. Modern demographers and magazine editors name generations to help draw cultural distinctions. Yet there is no universal method for drawing the line between one generation and the next.

The writers who coined the term “millennial,” William Strauss and Neil Howe, chose 1982 as the starting birth year. They observed in the 1991 book “Generations” that children born around that time were different from their predecessors because their parents were so into the zeitgeist of child rearing and were more protective. The Pew Research Center later settled on 1981 as the borderline. Scott Keeter, its director of survey research, explained the rationale: Americans born that year “were coming into adolescence when Bill Clinton was president.”

Both 1981 and 1982 strike me as too early to begin the millennial generation. “Generations,” according to a 2010 Pew report, “have personalities.” O.K. But those of us born in the first half of the 1980s are different from those born in the ’90s and even the late ’80s, because we were at different points in our lives for two significant events: the personal computing revolution and the 2008 economic crash.

I can see the point about parents getting way more protective in the very early 80s.

But yeah, there's a big difference between the folks born pre-mainstream Internet (1994?) and those who have had Internet their whole lives. 

Not sure about the 2008 crash point though. 

You May Also Like: