Millennials (formerly christened Generation Y) are the generational cohort born roughly between the birth of AIDS and the Spice Girls, who are or aren't the spawn of Baby boomers and older Gen Xers, did or didn't experience the "Nuthin' Nineties", did or didn't survive the Iraq War, do or don't vape, and are forever caught in an emotional quadrangle of economic despair, constant putdowns from their elders, crippling student loan debts, and shell-shock caused by the prospect that they will have to work until the day they drop dead.
Millennials appeared at just the right time to witness the economic and political golden age of the 1990s, but were not quite old enough to enjoy the rave scene — unfortunately, the rug was yanked out from them all too soon, as the excessive abuse of avocado toast and the economy (often simultaneously) presented their bill. Despite being in their 20s and 30s, many still only make minimum wage, reside with their parents, and rarely reproduce — although sleeping in their childhood bedroom, with its Thomas the Tank Engine wallpaper and a Star Wars-themed single bed, is as big a passion killer as regular visits from "mummy", just in case either partner had become "hungry" in the last seven minutes.
Contrary to popular belief, the term "Millennial" refers not to this cohort being born in the millennium, but rather them upskirting into the new millennium during their formative years. It is because of their confusing name that people often mistake Millennials for the succeeding Generation Z (more precisely known as "Post-Millennials", "iGen", or "Zoomers"), today's youth who dab on the haters while snacking on scrumptious tide pods, playing the latest online game craze Fortnite, and weathering endless school shootings.
Sociologists William Strauss and Neil Howe coined the term "Millennials" in 1987, around the time children born in 1982 were entering preschool, and the media were first identifying some kind of spiritual astrological mumbo-jumbo link between these kids and the new millennium, since they were destined to become the high school Class of 2000. Strauss and Howe wrote about this cohort in their books Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 and Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation and also went on news programs and talk shows around the turn of the millennium to promote them, wherein they propped Millennials up as the best thing since sliced bread and claimed they would change the world with their unbridled optimism (sound familiar?).
The placeholder label "Generation Y" first appeared in an August 1993 Advertising Age editorial describing those born in 1982 or later, who would soon be teenagers and thus soon to be the next lucrative marketing demographic that advertisers could blame for "killing" everything. "Generation Y" alluded to a lighter-hearted succession from their angstier, grungier Generation X older brethren, like a movie sequel that just wasn't as good as the original. In 2012, Ad Age threw in the towel and conceded that "Millennials" was a catchier coinage than their admittedly derivative and cheesy "Gen Y"; after that, the Gen Y label seemed to vanish from the media without a trace. Due to the stigma the Millennial label bears, as well as the cultural and tech disparity between older and younger Millennials, Early Millennials have desperately tried to rebrand back to Gen Y to escape the hatred that anti-avocado toast thinkpieces and Fox News episodes endlessly throw their way.
The scope of the generation has expanded broadly — some would say too broadly — since then, to include those born between 1982 and 2004. Or 1980 and 2000. Or 1980 and 1995. Or 1981 and 1997. Or 1977 and 1994. Or after 1980. Whatever group of young people that older people dislike, basically; Millennial definitions vary greatly depending on who is writing the condescending thinkpiece you read, with the writer choosing to start or end the generation wherever he feels like it.
History of Millennials
Millennials grew up under the presidencies of Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama; notable events witnessed include the end of the Cold War, the Gulf War, the Los Angeles riots, the Internet going from being privatized by the government to being used by everyone and their dog, Bill Clinton nearly being impeached over a blowjob, Columbine, the 9/11 attacks, a metric ton of Internet memes, the Virginia Tech Massacre, the first African-American president, the rise of smartphones and social media, and the creation of a hedonistic, materialistic world filled with drones.
Truly, this is a lot to take in. Despite this cohort being only about 15–20 years long, each year produced noticeably different people from their superiors, due to the rapid advances in technology over the decades. Someone born in 1985, for instance, would've likely not had Internet access until they were in the double-digit age, and also would've been in middle school during the Clinton–Lewinsky stained blue dress scandal in 1998 and thus would've felt its significance. Whereas someone born in 1995 would've likely never known a world without constant Internet access, and would've been sucking a dummy during the Lewinsky scandal and thus have no memory of it.
In 2016, the Pew Research Center thinktank originally found through U.S. Census data that Millennials (defined here as 1981–1997), at 75.4 million strong, surpassed Baby boomers (defined here as 1946–1964), only at a measly 74.9 million and quickly dropping like flies, as the largest living generation in the United States. Depending on who you ask, this is either a great hope for the future, or a terrifying warning of what lies ahead; while Boomers have been hopelessly incompetent at running America, what with the endless wars and crashed economy that they left for their descendants, Millennials don't seem all too competent at running things themselves. However, in 2017, Pew Research arbitrarily revised their Millennial cutoff to 1996, reducing their U.S. size to 72 million, stating it would instead take until 2019 for them to surpass Boomers via immigration. Better luck next time, kiddos.
Types of Millennials
Millennials born in the early-mid 1980s, with some plumping for odd late 1970s starting dates, are also termed the "Oregon Trail Generation" or "Xennials". They are among the few in their cohort to have memories of the Cold War; in their childhoods, they lived with paranoia over the threat of nuclear war, and whether another member of Def Leppard would die or lose a limb. Later, in their teen and adult years, they faced the threats of Columbine, Y2K, the 2000 U.S. presidential election, and being sent off to a quagmire war in the Middle East. They also recall a time when you could wear a trenchcoat to school without getting arrested. They were the first kids on the block to make their own Geocities pages, and the last cohort of teenagers who still made use of "jazz mags", seeing as the Internet was still on dial-up and lewd images took fifteen minutes to load. They grew up without dope MMOs like World of Warcraft; instead, they had pretty fly LAN parties through games like Quake and Unreal Tournament, as well as old-fashioned tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons, played with a set of dice and a pencil.
Those born from the mid-late 1980s to early-mid 1990s form the heart and soul of Millennials. In their childhoods, they saw Japanese culture boom in the West, with franchises like Pokemon, Digimon, and Yu-Gi-Oh spawning a generation of weeaboos, and instilling moral panic in their parents who believed these franchises were Satanic. In their teen years, they experienced the rise of Web 2.0, with MMOs like World of Warcraft, MapleStory, and Ragnarok; sites like AlbinoBlackSheep, Newgrounds, and YouTube for original user-generated content, hentai, and memes; and early social media sites such as MySpace and Facebook before parents found out about it. In their adult years, they voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 and/or 2012 elections, mesmerized by his platitudes of "hope" and "change" that they hoped would reverse the financial Recession they had graduated into.
Millennial cuspers born in the mid-late 1990s, also known as "Zillennials", form a sort of cross-generation with the succeeding Generation Z; five-second attention spans, little or no memory of 9/11 (it is for this reason they form the vast majority of 9/11 "truthers"), love for EDM and trap music, and an even more meme-savvy culture are just a few of their characteristics. Most social justice warriors, as well as the alt-right, are from this age group, as they use their memes to gain political traction in a way that middle-aged politicians can only aspire to.
Millennials have been described in the media as "entitled", "spoiled", "narcissistic", "flighty and transient", and responsible for killing every industry under the sun, most notably avocado toast; "Their love of avocado toast endangers the Great Empire of America," opines a Fox News reporter, "and avocado toastism may lead to a communist state takeover at the hands of Millennials' socialist god Bernie Sanders." These descriptors are not unlike how their parents, the Boomers, were described as youths; Millennials follow in these footsteps by smoking weed 'erryday, pretending to be hippies, having unwarranted self-importance, wasting their money on useless commodities from Wal-Mart, and holding trendy liberal viewpoints.
What are Millennials good for?
Absolutely nothing! Well, if not for Millennials, tons of
low-quality consumer products wouldn't be killed because Millennials have discerning taste and are smart enough not to waste their money on gross shit like the Big Mac are entitled brats, if marketers are to be believed with their massive slew of "Millennials Are Killing [X]" clickbait headlines.
Fun, like the economy, was killed by Millennials in the late 2000s Recession (even though Baby boomers killed those) and for them, the post-fun era is called "hanging out", "chilling out", "going out", or "Netflix and chill"; "coming out" has recently become more fun than all of the above. Ecstasy is the best thing in the world, and the seventh best thing in the galaxy; Millennials, sadly, were just a little late to appreciate the Summer of Love, and instead go to police-affiliated institutions called "nightclubs". In a world where you can be arrested for loitering after 6PM on Wednesday, ecstasy and fun have become impossible, so they have been replaced by vaping and "Netflix and chilling".
Face-to-face communication, another thing Millennials killed in the late 2000s (even though Steve Jobs, a Boomer, is the one who created the smartphones that Millennials are addicted to), has been replaced with the addicting misery of smartphones and social media; since Millennials communicate via platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which encourage minimalism, their attention spans are often reduced to that of a goldfish. While tech-savvy, they are often accused of being poor employees, always needing to be thanked for doing their job or told to get off that damn phone (even though Boomer bosses also use their phones a lot and demand respect rather than earning it).
Mass culture has never been more successful on influencing the minds of the industrial masses than it has been on Millennials. Currently, the most commercially successful band in the world is Twenty-One Pilots, popular because they are so underground and hipster and anti-commercial, not like that mainstream crap. The coma-inducing mumbler of rap, Post Malone, is the other most popular musician at the moment. Due to the chronic insecurities of Millennial youth, the only thing that is ever accepted as cool is a constant uncritical love and positivity of everything except Donald Trump and conservatism. This is because the youth of today thinks they will look less stupid if they think everything's good (sans conservatism), rather than if they are negative, wherein they would inevitably meet other youths who think that thing they hate is lit AF, thus shattering the coolness illusion.
Comedy is another thing Millennials are often blamed for killing, perhaps due to them being exceedingly politically correct, so much that they will sue you for even looking at them funny or calling them names. Throughout college campuses in the mid-2010s, Late Millennials notoriously implemented microaggressions, safe spaces, and trigger warnings to protect them from mean words that hurt their feelings; this PCness gone mad led to a right-wing backlash and the resulting 2016 election of Donald Trump from voters who wished to "own the libs." Others, however, believe Millennials killed comedy not necessarily through being PC Police, but because they simply aren't funny, with most of their attempted "jokes" centering on inane concepts like weed, anime, Roman statues, hipster culture, cat GIFs, sassy women snapping their fingers, and post-ironic dankness (the latter essentially deconstructing their status as scapegoats for the world).
Millennials enjoy the sexual liberalism of Baby boomers, but without the sex. The Millennial sexual experience is largely concerned with the spermicidal tendencies of plastic bags, worrying about whether you are "as good" as the next, previous, and other 406 lovers, whether your figure is longer than Hadrian's Wall, whether you should have sex on the first date, what pair of yoga pants fits you best, who you can raise your previous lover's kids with, whether your sexual acts are too esoteric or not esoteric enough, and whether you should have kids out of wedlock or find an abortion clinic with a waiting list that doesn't exceed six months.
So the next time an old man shakes his fist or cane at those dang Millennials, just remember that you are the future, while these old coots are getting irrelevant, and will turn to dust soon enough. Forget that you'll never be able to retire because Boomers fucked the economy and the polar ice caps are quickly melting that will eventually flood the world. And never mind that social security and medicaid are going under because of guys like Paul Ryan. None of these things are very important. But what does matter is whether Millennials can team up with their little Gen Z siblings, defeat the Boomers in the upcoming generational showdown following the 2018 midterms and/or 2020 Recession, round-up and execute all the corrupt politicians and lobbyists, ban human hostility, establish an anarchist form of government, and pledge for "One World, Under Bernie, Avocado-Toastible, With Liberality and Social Justice For All".
Now go make a fresh avocado toast and be alert so that those dang Boomers don't steal it.
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