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Millenials

Written by Dick Pryor on Thursday December 15, 2011

The Sheet

December 11, 2011

We've probably all heard it, or said it: "These kids! What's the world coming to?" Previous generations questioning succeeding generations is likely as old as time. It's always something that sets off the dismay of elders – nothing new there. What is new is the way the Millennial generation, those born after 1978 or 1980, depending on which definition you use, are looking like they may bring real change to our world in ways never imagined before.

Millenials have some distinctive characteristics. According to the Pew Research Center's 2010 study, "Millenials: A Portrait of Generation Next," Millenials (also called Generation We) are, compared to their parents:

  • More tolerant about racial and social differences.
  • Less politically partisan.
  • Less likely to attend an organized church on a regular basis.
  • More likely to support a third political party.
  • More technologically savvy.
  • More "global."
  • More connected to their peers (even those in other countries) than to their parent's generation.
  • More innovative and entrepreneurial.
  • More interested in the "common good" rather than individual gain.
  • More politically "progressive" and lean more toward the Democratic Party (although the Republican Party is rapidly closing that gap)
  • More distrustful of dominant institutions such as government, major corporations and traditional churches.
  • More optimistic about change, but extremely negative about the current state of affairs in the United States.

Get the picture? Millenials are different from their older siblings (Generation X), their parents (Baby Boomers) and their grandparents (Silent Generation). What really jumps out about Millenials is their connectivity. They are the first generation to come of age in a time when personal computers were common and almost everyone had a cellular telephone. Maddening as it may be to their elders, Millenials march to the beat of their iPhones. Text messaging, anyone? Actually, for Millenials it is "Text messaging, EVERYONE!"

I could say more, but I really encourage you to watch our program to hear from three Millenials: State Representative Emily Virgin (D) Norman; John Milner, Co-founder of Tree and Leaf Clothing; and William Winfree, University of Oklahoma graduate student.

If you want more information about Millenials I encourage you to visit the website of the Pew Research Center and "Generation We" by Eric Greenberg and Karl Weber. Their research includes focus groups with Millenials explaining their generation.

Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

Dick Pryor


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