Millennials, schlemmennials: Today's 20-somethings not all that different

Young, wired and living life on the digital ed...

Image by TheeErin via Flickr

With all eyes on airport security and the underwear bomber (well, not really), the latest survey of the Millennial generation landed with resounding thud this week.  No one noticed.

And  no wonder. It turns out “they” aren’t so different from other Americans. They’re not quitting their day jobs to watch Reality TV. (Who has a day job, anyway?) And they don’t spent their entire lifetime on Facebook. Some don’t even particularly like it.

Of course, the news business hates change that isn’t change. We live to chronicle profound differences from generation to generation,  tut about kids today who can’t read a lick, and worry about those so wired to their ever- texting iPhones that they’ll soon take out their elders in a fiery highway crash.

So who wants to listen when the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press tells those of us in the Millennials’ parents and grandparents generation that we can calm down?  In fact, we can even take some encouragement.  There are signs, reports Pew, that this is a greener generation. And it’s a generation somewhat more comfortable with diversity and difference by race, ethnicity and sexual preference. That’s a good thing since they’ll be living in an America without a white majority long before they reach old age and probably one that ultimately fails in its adamant resistance to gay marriage.

Given the nature of news from Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and New Jersey, not to mention the economy,  I’ll take all the positive news I can get.   (OK, I’ll stop picking on New Jersey) I do especially appreciate the comic relief provided by Michael “I am the chair of the Republican Party” Steele.  Turns out he wrote a book titled “Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda” that no one in the Republican Party knew about. (Even Howard Dean didn’t do this.)

Which leads me back to Pew (huh?). Here’s what it had to say about the 18- to 29-year-old Millennials (in roughly this order):

  • They’re younger. (Seriously, the headline said that; no wonder no one read on.)
  • They’re enthusiastic about technological and communication advances. (Duh.)
  • Only 7 percent say Reality TV has been a change for the better. (So who is watching it?)
  • They’re not all that enamored of Facebook.  Only about 45 percent say the social networking sites “represent a change for the better,” the same percentage as in the 30 to 49 year old age group.
  • They are not ga-ga about blogging (just 29 percent consider blogs a change for the better).
  • Nearly 8 in 10 applaud the greater availability of green products (but then again, nearly 7 in 10 of the whole population does. It’s sort of like being for mom and apple pie.)
  • Two of three say they  believe increasing racial and ethnic diversity is a good thing (but then  6 in 10 Americans as a whole say the same thing).

So what’s the biggest difference in generational perceptions?  Pew saved it to the end (hey, I at least hinted at it earlier.)

There is … a large divide between how the youngest and oldest Americans view the increasing acceptance of homosexuality.

Some 44 percent of Millennials consider the greater acceptance of gays and lesbians a change for the better. Barely 1 in 5 Americans over Age 65 say the same.

Oh yes, the Millennials agreed with their parents on something else: That the last decade sucked.

Come get me when the next Pew report shows up. I’ll be on Facebook.



About jerrylanson

I teach, write, coach and sing, though you're not required to listen to the latter. I'm a journalism professor at Emerson College in Boston. My third book, "Writing for Others, Writing for Ourselves," was published in November by Rowman & Littlefield Publishing. You can read a sample chapter at My passions are politics (generally liberal in outlook), music, mountains, golden retrievers and my grandchildren, though not in that order. Please stop by and mix it up with me. I always answer those who post.
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