Saturday, June 7, 2014

'Millennials' is the Worst Name Possible for the Young Generation

Image from Jigsaw.
"Generation Y" was coined first. Then someone, possibly Williams Strauss and Neil Howe in a 1991 book called Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584-2069, came up with the synonym Millennials.

I think it's the worst possible name for the generation it tries to describe for one very important reason: Someone in that generation did not invent it.

"Generation Y" was no great feat of wordsmithery either, don't get me wrong. "Digital Natives" is better because it's at least more descriptive. Thinking back, "Baby Boomers" made sense, and to some extent "Generation X" made sense, describing a generation that was slightly lost and ill-defined to from the start. (I just barely make the cutoff for Generation X by most accounts, so I associate myself with the group and term to a fairly weak degree.)

Part of what defines Digital Natives is that they invent everything. With the Internet ever and always at your fingertips your whole life, with the World Wide Web evolving and growing into maturity at the same time and pace, Digital Natives are the creators. Nothing is not worth making. You don't have to be good with your hands to build things either if you know code, or Photoshop, or how to write, or even how to incite controversy. It doesn't matter if what you "invent" is a blog or a piece of software or a pour-over coffee contraption or a theory of anti-feminism. Digital Natives make this stuff happen.

The word "Millennials" on the other hand, ticks me off because two guys invented it in 1991, when the generation they were describing weren't old enough to name themselves yet. It just seems off.

In my heart of hearts, I want to see the generation of people born between, roughly 1980 and 2000 give themselves a new name. I want to hear what they want us and future generations to call them. I don't want two old authors from two generations ago doing it. Until they define how they want to call themselves
, I'm sticking with "Digital Natives."

No comments:

Post a Comment