Whether you are a millennial like myself or not, you have probably heard many not so flattering things about our generation. Apparently we are self centred, entitled and disengaged. To make matters worse, new studies are starting to appear about the youngest generation, Gen Z, and apparently they are way better than us! Gen Z are all about saving the world, creating their own businesses (socially conscious businesses of course), hyper aware and politically engaged.
While I by no means think you should believe all stereotypes or that you can say all people born between 1980-2000 or all those born after 2000 display the same characteristics, however the research is pretty damning. For the Millennial Dialogue, which has now been conducted in 15 countries, AudienceNet and FEPS have found that just 17% of UK millennials say they are ‘very interested’ in politics and the picture is similar for most other countries. Gen Z’ers, despite their young age, are increasingly active in politics and incorporate it into all aspects of their lives.
According to research by Ernst & Young and North Eastern University Gen Z’ers want to run their own company, but they want to make sure that their business is socially conscious. While millennials are often described as being lazy, the dream job for millennials is also to be a business leader according to the Millennial Dialogue. The wish to own their own business seems logical when thinking about how independent Gen Z’ers supposedly are, but what about us supposedly dependent millennials, why in the world would we want to set up our own business?
Looking at the headline data makes me wish I was born seven years later, so I could be a super awesome Gen Z’er instead of a dependent, self-centred millennial. However, I start to doubt the headlines when I think of millennial peers in my daily life, in the world of business and millennial celebrities and it makes me think there might be more beneath the data and stereotypes. Leading the way for the millennial generation we have people like Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of Facebook, Emma Watson, actress and UN Goodwill Women’s Ambassador and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. All highly engaged, political and innovative millennials, proving that stereotypes are not always right.
Looking in more detail at the Millennial Dialogue, we find that millennials might not be interested in politics, but they are interested in lots of political issues like the environment and healthcare. Millennials have grown up in political turmoil with the end of the Cold War, 9/11 and technological development, we’ve become a generation that distrusts authorities including politicians. Therefore, saying that millennials are disengaged, because of their lack of engagement with traditional politics, simply does not represent the generation. In the words of an American millennial:
“Don’t mistake apathy towards the political system and politicians with lack of caring about public affairs…”
While I truly hope for our world and society that Gen Z are as great as the stereo types make them out to be, I don’t think the millennial generation needs saving from Gen Z, I still think we have time show that we have ambition and want to make the world a better place. Let’s prove those middle aged white old men out there who want to present our generation as lazy and entitled that we’re just as ambitious, creative and innovative as previous generations, if not for the sake of our generation, then at least for our own sake.