Who Decides What Generation You Are?

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

“Self-absorbed,” “wasteful,” “greedy” and “cynical.” This is basically how Generation Y, otherwise known as Millennials, see themselves today. Not all of them, but a good chunk of the demographic nonetheless.

A study conducted by Pew Research Center with 3,147 adults (who are part of the American Trends Panel) reveals that Millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1997 (according to this particular research group) are the most prone to criticize their generation. Basically the only good thing they have to say about themselves is that they are idealistic. So what’s the catch?

Sadly, there is none. We seem to be losing confidence in our ability to do good with each passing generation. While Boomers and Silent representatives do not consider themselves wasteful or greedy, Gen X and Gen Y do so very arduously. The trend holds true for other criteria as well, such as cynicism.

To be fair, idealism isn’t the only aspect that Millennials attribute to themselves as a quality. There’s also entrepreneurship, tolerance (i.e. gay marriage, racial equality, etc.), and environmental consciousness, but this is where all groups feel (more or less) optimistic. However, when faced with questions about patriotism, responsibility and hard-work, Millennials immediately return to their pessimistic selves.

Pew Research theorizes that this has to do with the age factor – namely that young people are yet to grasp certain aspects of life, such as politics, religion, or morality. This can certainly contribute to Millennials’ negative views, but if you need confirmation, just take a hard look around. At 30 years old, I’m bordering on Gen X and Gen Y. I relate to the views expressed in the poll (give or take a few), so I consider the numbers accurate.

Also noteworthy is that many representatives from all four generations refuse to be included in the consensus. This time the Silent generation tops the negativity chart, with just 18% of the population aged 70-87 accepting this status. Perhaps Silent is the right nomenclature, then 🙂

Millennials follow suit, with as many as 40% refusing to be included in this cohort. The remaining 60% see themselves as something else, while around a third of the entire demographic actually identify themselves with Generation X better. Baby Boomers are the most likely to embrace their group’s traits and definition, by every account. Check out the gallery below for a broader picture of how each crop sees itself, or see the report in full right here. Don’t hesitate to let us know where you fall in.

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