After the two of us spent a long night discussing our generation’s unique outlook on life, I woke up to find that my friend, 26-year-old Ben McManus, had posed a question to the world (via social media, of course):
Ben’s angsty query is worth investigating because, if nothing else, the current generation of millennials — the popular term for today’s young people — makes for a damn good case study. We’ve come of age amidst global financial turmoil which seems to have led us to the conclusion that the best way forward is to stuff our (paltry) cash savings under our mattresses, give Wall Street the finger, and invest in our passion projects. We’re insisting on flexibility and work-life balance, which employers hate us for, and we are– according to 65% of the country— the entitled spawn of helicopter parents.
So who the hell are millennials? When exactly did the Wolf of Wall Street mentality get largely rejected? And how the hell did that mentality get replaced with a new Kerouacian alternative where the cool kids live in vans?
WHO WE ARE (AS PEOPLE AND AS TRAVELERS)
Before diving into why millennials are the way we are, it’s worth explaining who “we” are exactly. To some, millennials are accepting, ethically motivated, and dedicated to their crafts. To others, millennials are self-aggrandizing bullshitters who feel superior because they know more about artisan bread than everyone else.
Let’s splash around some facts:
We go to college more than our predecessors. Between 2009 and 2013, 22.3% of people aged 18-34 had received a bachelor’s degree or higher. Depending on your outlook on the value of a college education, that makes us the most educated generation in American history.