What Does It Mean to Be a Millennial?

laughing young diverse girlfriends dancing and drinking beer during event

What exactly is a millennial? We always hear older generations call anyone younger than them “a darn millennial,” but I’m here to set the record straight.

People born after 1996 are considered Generation Z. People between 1981 and 1996 are considered Millennials.

While I love what the younger generation is doing in today’s world, I think there needs to be a fine line between Gen Z and Millennials. We grew up in a slightly different world than Gen Z, and we’re at a different point in our lives.

Who are the real Millennials?

According to Pew Research Center, the millennial generation includes anyone born between 1981 and 1996. I’m a 1995 millennial.

What are the other generations?

In case you’re curious, generations are usually categorized by these years:

  • The Silent Generation: Born between 1928 and 1945

  • Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964

  • Generation X: Born between 1965 and 1980

  • Generation Z: Born between 1997 and 2009

  • Generation Alpha: Born after 2010

I actually just learned about Generation Alpha. Did you know they even existed?

Children born after 2010 are considered a part of Generation Alpha. Millennials make up the largest group of parents to Generation Alpha. Reports share that this generation will be heavily influenced by technology, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Have Millennials Experienced?

Millennials have lived through several major world events, such as The Great Recession, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 9/11/01—the list goes on. But we’ve actually experienced a lot of cool, not-depressing events as well!

Many of us remember when Barack Obama was elected as the first African American President of the United States. In 2015, gay marriage was legalized in all fifty states, under the Obama administration.

We were young and alive during the expansion of the internet and social media. Remember using MySpace for the first time? Remember Vine?

Since many of us love a good deal and the internet, millennials have become known as “cord-cutters.” According to Merriam-Webster, a cord-cutter describes someone who no longer pays for cable, but favors streaming services like Netflix or Hulu instead.

A young woman hiding in her sweater and smiling

What are Some Common Characteristics of Millennials?

It may be common for some people to think of millennials as “lazy” or “whiney” but true millennials know this is far from the truth.

In 2022, 26% of millennials reported working a second job, with 73% reporting that they worked 40+ hours a week, and 25% reporting that they worked 50 hours or more a week. So, we’re actually a pretty hard-working generation.

Millennials are known as one of the most progressive generations. According to Pew Research Center, our generation is more accepting of LGBTQ+ people, interracial marriage, and immigrants, compared to past generations. More millennial women have entered the workforce than any generation before us.

Other common characteristics of our generation include the following:

  • Authenticity & Transparency

  • Open & Adaptive to Change

  • Technologically Savvy

  • Collaborative

  • Passionate

What Defines a Millennial versus a Gen Z?

I love our little Gen Z’s. They’re progressive and they aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves. But what makes Gen Z different from millennials?

Generation Z tends to be more influenced by technology and the internet than our generation—40% of Gen Z claim to be “digital device addicts.”

While we remember picking out our top friends on MySpace, Gen Z showed up a little later to the party. They remember using Facebook and Instagram as their first social media experience. Millennials—remember when the iPod was released and actually a huge deal? I had to beg my father for three years to buy me an 8-gig iPod Nano for my birthday.

Obviously, this won’t be true for every millennial or Gen Z, but we have differences when it comes to life goals and values. Millennials tend to be more idealistic, while Gen Z tends to be more practical. Millennials enjoy teamwork in the workplace but Gen Z is considered more independent and competitive.

When I was doing my research, I noticed a lot of the sources stated that millennials are more open online, while Gen Z values privacy. What do you think? As a millennial, I try to keep most of my personal life private from social media. I try to only share positive moments and big life events on my social channels. But maybe I’m wrong.

What Do We Have in Common?

Since millennials and Generation Z most likely grew up in similar environments, we do share some common characteristics.

Many millennials and Gen Z expect to leave their current job at some point. This is a very different attitude from past generations, where most people would stay at one job their entire life. Younger generations are starting to demand better benefits and pay from their employers, and they are ready to quit if the demands aren’t met. Or they go on to start their own business.

A 2020 survey from GoDaddy reported that nearly one in three millennials had a small business. Generation Z is becoming the most entrepreneurial generation yet—62% of Gen Z has started a small business or intends to start one in the future.

Millennials and Gen Z who work for an employer expect professional development opportunities. If we enjoy working for an employer, we expect opportunities to grow as a leader in the field.

Generation Z and millennials both grew up in technological eras. While social media was just emerging for millennials, Gen Z was born directly in the revolution of the internet and social media. Many people from both generations have used technology and social media to become successful digital entrepreneurs.

Millennials and Beyond

What does being a millennial mean to you?

Honestly, I think about growing up in the age of Neopets and iPods. It’s the nostalgia for me. But many experiences from our past have influenced who we are today. My love of social media and using HTML code for Neopets User Lookups kind of introduced me to the world of web development and SEO.

Whether you consider yourself a millennial or not, I hope you learn a little bit about what defines each generation. Here’s to the millennials, Gen Z, Gen Alpha and beyond!

One response to “What Does It Mean to Be a Millennial?”

  1. Thank you for sharing this information. As a father of two millennials and one who is now working with generation z young adults, I appreciate your insights.

Leave a Reply

Skip to content