By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
We in America have never been good with transitions.
Unlike many countries, (until recently at least) our political leadership has shifted from party to party without much fuss or controversy.
Our generational transitions seem to be a little more irregular, even at times downright antagonistic.
Each generation seems, for the most part, to have little interest in or respect for the values and traditions of the previous generation.
COVID and the Trump years have redefined and redefined roles and assumptions about everything from work (and pay) and food to authority, responsibility and respect.
Although the definition of a Millennial varies, the Pew Research Center defines a Millennial as someone born between 1981 and 1996. This means that while Millennial is often used as an abbreviation for “young,” the older members of that cohort come in. quickly and walking one toe at a time in his forties.
The term Millennial was coined in 1991 by historians Neil Howe and William Strauss in their book Generations. They chose the label based on the fact that many Millennials would graduate from high school around the year 2000. They were also referred to as Generation Y or Generation Y, among other things.
Millennials are arguably the most studied generation. Until now.
They are the last generation with something like the vestigial memory of a pre-digital culture.
Millennials are much more likely than the next generation to have slowed down their use of certain platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Messenger and Twitter.
They remember, sometimes fondly, and sometimes less fondly, the predominance of physical media, such as DVDs and CDs. And many of them are nostalgic for the dominant medium that came before them – vinyls.
Most of them are very literate – and many are known to read “dead trees” – even in public!
Millennials are also more likely to use and support public libraries than other generations.
Millennials are often accused of “killing” certain industries.
For better or worse, Millennials have been accused of killing mayonnaise, malls, paper napkins, the McDonald’s Big Mac, and more.
For all too obvious reasons, the generation has also been blamed for declining birth rates and homeownership rates.
Although they’ve grown into adults in an economy that seems to have it all, from student debt to absurdly high house prices, Millennials are far better than the previous generation (or both) at preparing for retirement.
Millennials are by far the largest generation in the American workforce.
In 2020, Millennials made up 35% of the global workforce and Gen Z 24%. This represents more than half of the total working population. (Generation Z is the one born in 1997 or later).
These two generations will represent 63.8% of the working population in 2025. By 2030, they will be around 75%.
According to the AARP, baby boomers are retiring at the rate of 10,000 a day in the United States.
Unlike their more conspiratorial elders, most Millennials believe that government can be, and even should be, a powerful force for good.
Millennials love to work, but nothing looks like the workplace of previous generations.
The standard 9-5 work schedule, Monday through Friday is anathema to them.
Working remotely, from home or on the road, or anytime, anywhere is their preferred schedule.
Flexibility is king.
Established career ladders, business systems and traditional hierarchies are driving this generation crazy.
Flexibility in feed is also a high priority. About 25% of Millennials describe themselves as vegans or vegetarians.
What were once “ethnic” foods have become staple foods for most Millennials.
Must love devices
Unsurprisingly, Millennials love their devices.
The Pew Research Center reports that 73% of Millennials online say the internet has had a net positive impact on society, the highest percentage of any age group surveyed.
The same report found that (only) 97% of Millennials use the internet, and almost a third of them use it exclusively on their phones.
And if you see Millennials in their native habitat, you’ll almost certainly see them with a phone in your hand.
25% of Millennials say they look at their phones more than 100 times a day, according to an international survey of 2,600 people, and 50% spend at least three hours a day on their phones.
They expect to be connected anywhere, anytime.
The future is Asian
China is home to 351 million Millennials (25% of the country’s population, compared to 22% in the United States). That’s more than the entire American population – of all ages. The total population of the United States, as of mid-October 2021, was approximately 333 million.
At the end of 2019, Generation Z outnumbered Generation Y in the world, reaching around 32% of the world’s population compared to 31.5% for Generation Y.
The children of Generation Y, aptly enough for a generation fully immersed in the 21st century, are called Generation Alpha.
Children of the Alpha Generation will be more racially and ethnically diverse than their parents – or grandparents.
The Alpha Generation will also be more likely to go to college, more likely to grow up in a single-parent (or non-traditional) household, and more likely to be surrounded by adults with a college education.
The children of Generation Alpha will certainly be the most technologically educated generation to ever live on the planet.
In the United States, whites represent a declining share of the country’s population.
In 2010, the first year of the Alpha Generation, 51% of children aged 0-4 were white. In 2018, just 49% of children in this same age group were white. The trend is obvious.
Generation Alpha entered the world the same year Apple launched its iPad, Instagram debuted, and the American Dialect Society crowned “app” as its word of the year.
Surrounded by technology since (or even before) birth, this group sees digital tools as ubiquitous – not just an accessory. For better or for worse, digital is their “normal”.
And no traditional institution, from government to religion to education or careers to shopping, will be what we, members of previous generations, always thought it would be.
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet.
Who knows what the rest of the generational “letters” will look like?