I don’t need to reiterate here how ridiculous the whole “Millennials Are Killing [industry/company/category]” press narrative is. The stories that have become a laughing stock seem to be predicated on two assumptions:
- That this is the first time in the history of civilization that one generation has dared to exhibit different consumer preferences or tastes than those that came before
- That consumerism is somehow a civic duty, that they are someone how neglecting a responsibility when choosing not to dine at Buffalo Wild Wings
The designation of that age group in particular seems designed to appeal to older audiences who can shake their heads at those damn Millennials what with their insistence on not falling in line with destructive capitalism, belief that corporations should be advocates for progressive social policies and desire to somehow, someday get out from under the crushing student loan debt they’re saddled with.
To some extent that’s understandable, or at least expected. As someone in the Gen X age group I’ve already had to sit through endless streams of stories about how my generation was just a bunch of slackers who couldn’t get off the couch long enough to get a job and variations thereof. We were just lazy, while Millennials have been positioned as violently disruptive.
In some recent cases, though, the subject of the story has been identified in the headline as being a “Millennial” despite membership in that group being completely inconsequential to the story itself. I won’t link to it, but here’s eht headline:
“How one retired Millennial made more than $60,000 in passive income last year”
The story goes on to explain how the person had built up enough of an audience for their blog that through a combination of ads and affiliate links they were able to bring in tens of thousands of dollars in revenue while putting very little effort into the blog.
Cool. Good stuff. Not terribly useful or groundbreaking, but that’s alright.
That fact that she was in the Millennial age group didn’t matter a whit, though. This wasn’t about something that was unique to her generation as the advice would apply to anyone from 15 to 75 years old. It was used, it seems, simply to get people’s attention and ride the trend of stories about that specific demographic.
I would hope that if demographic membership is going to be singularly identified, there’s a purpose behind it. Stories about Millennials and their habits and preferences are overdone as it is, superfluous usage of the label only creates more confusion and, quite frankly, resentment.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.