On Millennials


This was an essay I wrote as part of an online course in essay writing. I find the practice of essay writing incredibly useful for forming stronger opinions. It is also a million miles away from the regimented, dry and insufferable essay projects I was forced to complete in school.

Commonly in the western world, “You don’t understand me!” is shouted by teenagers at their parents. Their vague premise is excusable but their feelings are genuine. New values, world views and beliefs are born alongside each new generation, including the millennial generation. People in the millennial generation and older generations share many of the same values but in some ways they totally differ.

Firstly, the millennial generation prefers to keep things casual in the office environment compared to older generations. This is evident in the office fashions chosen by each generation. As offices around the world are increasingly managed by the millennial generation, a trend of a more casual office clothing is apparent in the west. An office requiring strictly formal wear all of the time is slowly becoming a thing of the past and is becoming a rule only consistently found at formalised institutions, such as banks. The older generations also prescribed a more formal style of speaking in the office environment compared to the offices of today. In the past, bosses had to be addressed with high respect and observance of their authority. Whereas today employees are able to have a more relaxed relationship with their management. Continuous communication of feedback and transparency is valued over holding one’s tongue through fear of breaking the rules. The office environment, for better or worse, has changed to reflect the more casual attitude of millennials.

Secondly, the traditional religious world view of previous generations has not persisted within the millennial generation. This is corroborated by the number of people in the millennial generation that are currently identifying as being part of a religion. The 2011 Census in the UK allowed each participant to state a religion with which they identified. Between the ages of 15 and 29, the approximate age range of the millennial generation in 2011, 3 out of 5 participants identified with a particular religion. The older bracket of participants, those aged 30 or higher, showed a more pious ratio of 4 out of every 5 participants. The more secular world view of millennials can also be seen in the rising interest in astrology within the generation. Many would agree that there is a high frequency of conversation heard amongst millennials about star-sign personality traits. Spiritual guidance was never a monopoly held by priests or sheikhs, but this trend suggests astrology is increasingly substituting them. Within the broader trend of secularization in western culture, it is no surprise that millennials are opting for a more secular way of life compared to those before.

Finally, millennials have more accepting attitudes towards emotions compared with older generations. Older generations tend to cope with their own emotions through avoidance, suppression and self-argument. This is quite succinctly expressed in the commonly heard phrase “Pull yourself together!” which implies that a person should control their own emotions in all circumstances. This likely has roots in the older generation’s immediate parents from the early 20th century, when emotional self-control was seen as an exceedingly important virtue. In contrast, millennials often favour feeling emotions over controlling them. Instead of trying to get past emotions, a millennial will analyse them and reflect upon them. Perhaps this could be motivated by an underlying belief that to turn away from one’s emotions would be to neglect a large part of one’s self. Each generation has had to find their own way to deal with emotions in their immediate context; in today’s context millennials find acceptance to be the preferable strategy.

In summary, there are aspects of millennials that differ in the contexts of work, world view and coping with everyday life. As the millennial generation matures into positions of power, these differences shall become ever more important to focus on as the generation shapes the society we live in.