Study Says Millennials Really, Really Hate Being Called Millennials
Remember when Kanye West said, "We are millennials, bro" during Sunday night's VMA telecast? Did hearing him say "millennial" out loud make you cringe? Did it make you want to throw a hardcover copy of Not That Kind of Girl at the TV and then cleanse your spirit with a pumpkin spice latte and a Target shopping trip? And then were you like, "Wait, isn't Kanye West 38?"
If so, you're not alone in your hatred of the M-word.
Also, you probably are an M-word yourself.
The numbers are in: According to the Pew Research Center, millennials (aka humans between the ages of 18 and 34) are poised to surpass baby boomers as the largest living generation in the United States and are already dominating the workforce.
Yet in spite of the fact that millennials are everywhere, Pew's latest batch of statistics (based on the survey responses of more than 3,000 U.S. adults) says that 60% of them would rather not be referred to as millennials.
This was in stark contrast to past generations like Gen X and baby boomers, both of which embraced their buzzy labels, at 58% and 79%, respectively:
One size just may not fit all. It's not so surprising that millennials are quick to shed the moniker, especially considering that most of us eschew labels to begin with.
"Generational names are largely the creations of social scientists and market researchers," the Pew researchers write of the new data. "The age boundaries of these widely used labels are somewhat variable and subjective, so perhaps it is not surprising that many Americans do not identify with 'their' generation."
The researchers added that "millennials, in particular, stand out in their willingness to ascribe negative stereotypes to their own generation," with 59% of Gen Y-ers responding that their generation was more "self-absorbed" than past generations. (Which in a way is self-absorbed in itself, so they might actually have a point there.)
The word doesn't exactly have a glowing subtext. Millennials have dealt with a number of less-than-stellar stereotypes, from people viewing us as everything from entitled babies to social media-obsessed smartphone-bots to lazy narcissists. Let's not even talk about how often cynical companies drop the term as a marketing tactic: Because millennials reportedly have up to $1.3 trillion in buying power (even though we're all, like, broke), brands view the word "millennial" as code for "LOTS O' MONEY."
The term "millennial" is also overused. Internet fatigue from seeing the word spelled out on our screens has even led some people to install Chrome extensions that will simply eliminate it from websites altogether, in favor of the less abrasive (and much cooler) "snake people."
Still, despite such widespread disdain for the term, it's the only (real) word the world has for our generation. It's likely not going anywhere anytime soon. Let's just try to keep it away from Kanye.