I read an article yesterday titled “Don’t Call Me a Millennial: I’m an Old Millennial.” It was about how some of the older Millennials feel they should be called something different because they feel they are unable to identify with “Kids These Days.”
The perspective was interesting, and I encourage everyone to give it a read. However, I found myself disagreeing with the majority of the content. This wasn’t an anti-millennial article, but it had the same theme as many do: “I am not like the other Millennials.”
It’s impossible to count the amount of articles that talk about what’s wrong with Millennials. But overall, this is nothing new. There is always fear regarding the younger generation. What is concerning is how many of these articles are written by Millennials themselves. It’s a noticeable amount, so much so that I often get asked by others, “Why are there so many self-hating Millennials?” Well after some research I do have a theory.
It could have something to do with phycology. If you frame up an argument in terms of us vs. them, you are talking about groups. Specifically ingroups and outgroups. This psychological concept is when one group believes themselves to be better than another.
In 1968, An elementary school teacher experimented with her 3rd-grade class. She separated her class by eye color having all kids with blue eyes sit on one side away from all others. The only thing that was told to the students was that “The kids with blue eyes were better people.”
Within the same day, the kids, instead of sitting or playing with their regular friends, began sitting together with their new groups. The blue eyed children started picking on the brown eyed kids despite being friendly days before. The very act of being told they were better caused an ingroup to form. The students on the outside of that group, the outgroup, were quickly shunned as less was thought of them.
But how would that apply today? Well, from the perspective of older generations, they are the In Group and Millennials are the outgroup. Millennials are accused of lacking the work ethic and overall smarts of the generations before. We are getting treated like an outgroup, and if you are keeping track, the In Group is massive in size.
So now put yourself in the shoes of the first Millennials entering the work force. The sheer size of the In Group is incredibly intimidating. It will take over a decade for the Out Group to grow to 1/3 of the workforce. That’s a long time to hear how much better others are than “kids these days.”
It has to be a tough spot when you’re Millennial who is surrounded by a tribe of people who believe themselves to be better than the average Millennial. How many times can you hear how lazy they (you) are before you start to identify with the ingroup? For some, it’s a lot easier to say, “you’re not talking about me. You are talking about other Millennials. I’m more like you” or in other words, “I’m not in their group, I’m in yours.”
Again, I want to reiterate that this is a theory based on a school of behavioral psychology. I also realize that some people may simply not associate themselves with Millennials despite the year of their birth. If 85% of an age group does something, then 15% of that age group doesn’t. I understand this. But it’s hard to deny that older Millennials tend to do the Millennial bashing compared to their younger counterparts.
With all of that said, this behavior is temporary. As Millennials keep spilling into the workforce and older generations keep retiring, being a Millennial will simply be normal. As the group keeps maturing, more and more great things will be accomplished. There are tons of Millennials not taking the time to worry about the labels they are given or what others view them as. They are just getting amazing things done. This is the same cycle every generation had to go through before us.
I hope everyone enjoyed the read and learned a few things along the way. As always, I would love to hear from you in the comments below, and you can always communicate with me on social media. Thanks!