We all know the story. Some of us have even lived it. Forgotten, overshadowed, and pushed aside. Being the middle child was the worst. The oldest sibling received all the accolades and rewards, the youngest received all the attention. And there we were, waving our hands in the air trying to say, “Hey! I’m right here and I’m not like them!” And here we are, still waving our hands, still trying to push our way past the shoulders of our surrounding siblings. A little older, a little wiser, but still just as frustrated. Being a 90’s kid is tough.
“Damn Millennials.” Many times have these words been uttered through the lips of baby boomers and Gen X’s. “All they care about is social media! They don’t know how to work hard!” We hear it. And we take it. But it’s a load of bulls**t. Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back. The definition of a Millennial is someone who was born between around 1980 and around the early 2000’s. While the characteristics of a Millennial can vary depending on the source, the gist is relatively the same. Lazy, narcissistic, coddled, materialistic, disengaged. Positive isn’t it? However in reality, the term “Millennial” isn’t as generalizable as many make it out to be.
People born in the 1980’s are currently aged anywhere between 26 and 35 years old. Having been in the working world for around four or five years, this decade of people are usually seen as responsible employees and entrepreneurs, creating a name for themselves and making short work of corporate ladders all around the world (sounds like the eldest sibling doesn’t it?). Racking up accomplishments and higher salaries, they’re already integrated with Gen X and often aren’t thought of when someone mentions Millennials. People born in the latter half of the term “Millennial” are currently in the height of their teenage years, and because of their youth, are usually grouped in with the rest of the post-century birth crowd. This is where the stereotypes of being a Millennial stem from. But I’ll come back to that later. Right smack in the middle, as always, are 90s kids. Currently aged 16 to 25, we are forced to be grouped into this almost derogatory term, “Millennial”. However we couldn’t be more different than our two surrounding siblings.
I was born in 1994. A great year if I allow myself to say so. Nelson Mandela, Netscape, Rwanda massacre, World Trade Center Bombing…Kurt Cobain…O.J. Simpson… Okay so maybe it wasn’t that great of a year. My point though is that all this happened in one year. Look at what 90’s kids have been through over the course of their short lives: Y2K, 9/11, the dot com boom and bust, the Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the War in Iraq, Apple’s rise to power, the Great Recession, the first black president, the legalization of gay marriage. And those are just a few off the top of my head. We’ve been left to solve the energy crisis and are the last generation that can reduce climate change and global warming before it’s too late. The world has changed immensely in the past 25 years. It’s led to one of the greatest qualities that 90’s kids possess. Nostalgia. And a whole lot of it. We grew up in a time that was almost entirely analog and the biggest fear was Y2K instead of war and the economy. We came of age in a time of great turmoil both domestic and abroad. We became adults in an entirely digital age and a slowly recovering economy. We are incredibly young, and yet possess the nostalgia of an old man.
We yearn for the simpler times, when the TV was turned on only after finishing family dinners and calling our friend’s home phone was the only way to reach them (other than AIM). And now I’m currently sitting in front of two computer screens as my phone sits within an arm’s reach dinging with updates of text messages, emails, and social media updates (perhaps this nostalgia is why hipsters came about). This dichotomy in ways of life leaves us 90’s kids wishing we were kids again. And that age was only 15 years ago! This isn’t a bad thing though. Growing up through all of this change has allowed us to adapt to all of the new tech and be very proficient with it. But we also see the value in writing a handwritten note to an employer after a job interview and enjoy relaxing with a good book. In a way, we are the most tech savvy analog people out there. Yes, I know what a tape deck is and watched VHS movies. I also owned a CD player. 90’s kids learned on Gateway computers but can do programming on any Mac book or PC no problem. I could go on and on but my point is that in our eyes, technology doesn’t seem to be advancing that fast. See, we grew up at the same time Apple did. At the same rate Google and Microsoft did. The pace of new technological advancements is about as routine as our birthday coming around every year. And it’s allowed us to be a pretty rare breed. Yes, we are different. But don’t you dare tell me I’m a Millennial.
As I mentioned before, I believe the term Millennial comes from the stereotypes derived from the post-turn of the century kids. All these kids know is digital. This group of kids was seven years old when the first iPhone came out. Is it their fault? Not to me it isn’t. It’s the result of being thrust into a rapidly advancing, tech dependent world and having a cell phone in their hands since 1st grade (that’s not an exaggeration, see the link at the bottom**). Look, our society is convenience oriented. Everything is about what makes things easier and faster. Is it any surprise that it has rubbed off on the very kids that are in their peak of susceptibility? Call it lazy if you want, I call it the effects of their environment. And everything is faster and easier. My cell phone (or mini-computer, however you look at it) has the capability to do anything I want and more. It houses the ability to connect with anyone I know in about 30 different ways. It’s no wonder these kids live and breathe social media. When everyone is connected to everyone else at all times, it’s easy to want to keep attention on yourself (after all, they are the youngest sibling; attention is everything). Has it implanted an entitled “me, me, me” loop track in these kids heads? Gen X seems to think so. And I’m inclined to agree. This is what is scaring employers and causing feelings of regurgitation every time they encounter a so called Millennial.
Sure, call me bitter. I think all of us 90s kids are. We are sick of being grouped into all these Millennials stereotypes. But it is not us. I suppose it’s our fault we’re included in this. We’ve had our heads down, working hard to build a name for ourselves. Haven’t heard of us? Well you’re about to. We are the kids from the 90’s. And we’re about to step out from behind our siblings and shake up the world.
*This article expresses the opinions of a possibly bias student born in the 90’s.
Written by Devon Dietrich, senior at the University of Montana majoring in Marketing, Management, and Psychology.