Although there be some merit in defining the aggregate characteristics of Millennials, I know from personal experience that no matter what group a person is from, it matters more what their personal characteristics are than what the characteristics are “typical” for their group. I think that lists like this lead to prejudice.
I don’t necessarily trust the studies cited, especially when some of the citations are just broken links within the article. For example “A global study of Millennials conducted by Telefonica in 2014″ and “Nielsen global online study found that Gen Y” and “PwC Millennial survey (2015) revealed that British female Millennials” all contain broken links.
Tanya’s claims are that Millennials are (with my annotations for some claims in square brackets):
- the largest generation in Western history [Yes, assuming the quoted numbers are correct.]
- the most educated generation in Western history [Perhaps, but was their education better or worse than previous generations? Many millennials have taken graduate degrees because lack of career opportunities, not because of academic zeal.]
- technologically savvy [As a technologist, I have clearly seen that many millennials have a weak grasp of the fundamentals of technology. They may be able to zip through modern interfaces very quickly, but that doesn’t mean they understand anything about electronics, hardware architecture, computer logic, databases, etc.]
- global citizens
- entrepreneurial [Yes, but in large part because companies do everything they can to hire contractors instead of employees.]
- pragmatic idealists
- frugal [not very, compared to people who grew up during the Great Depression]
- liberal [Compared to Boomer Hippies? Not in my experience!]
- compassionate [Then why are there so many homeless on our streets?]
- progressive [With Donald Trump in power in the U.S. and many conservative parties in power across Canada and around the world?]
- confident [Not in my experience. I’ve trained many millennials and find many of them timid and shy]
- diverse [Yes, in the Lower Mainland, but no in many other parts of Canada]
- practical and results-oriented
- nomadic [This may be due to low costs of travel and low opportunity costs. If much of your work and social network is online, and you don’t have a fixed workplace, why not travel?]
- adventurous [Compared to Bear Grylis?, their immigrant parents who travelled across the world to provide better lives for them? Compared to the millions of Boomers? I have certainly seen lots of examples of reckless and adventurous behaviour from Millennials on social media, but I also saw plenty of this from young Boomers as I grew up.]
Those are a lot of claims. In the absence of much corroboration of these claims from my personal experience, I have some doubt about their validity, especially since they fail to mention other defining traits of this generation such as a predilection for avocado toast, penny-farthing bicycles, and expensive lattes (yes– I’m joking here).
As Reniqua Allen says in her video The story we all tell about millennials – and who we leave out, “Millennials are not a monolith … Millennials are the largest and most diverse population in this country”.
I’m not saying that educators should ignore the characteristics of millennials listed in Oblinger’s article. But I think it is important to remember that many people have these characteristics, some to a greater or lessor degree. I’ve personally seen many of these traits in my own generation of Baby Boomers.
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