Have millennials been misunderstood?
A recent report from The Futures Company wonders aloud whether weve misread this generation. Whereas generational speculation has given a positive spin to this up-beat, do-good cohort, as millennials transition to adulthood questions are popping up about the tendencies of this age group when taken as a whole (which is, of course, unfair in and of itself). According to the report, Millennials are demonstrating more insular,
self-protective and scrappy attitudes than previously assumed. Heres some of their argument for making this statement:
- They believe the system is letting them down (Occupy movement, anyone?)
- They are increasingly cynical about making a difference in the world.
- Personal success is the priority. And theyre willing to bend the rules for self-benefit.
Now, this report in particular is based on opinion polling, so dont take it (or any other research) without liberal grains of salt. But it does raise good questions.
- How often to we lean into group or age cohort stereotypes and make assumptions before theyre proven?
- How much do we write off 22-year-olds or 72-year-olds based on what we think they must be thinking, feeling, or doing related to whatever we are concerned about?
- While were generalizing, though, what difference actually exists between the beliefs and attitudes of 20-somethings listed above and their 30-40-something counterparts? Rampant individualism is the bread and butter of our cultural feast. Did we expect something different from this generation if thats all weve been feeding them?
And finally, how does any or all of this impact the ways we shape our ministries for the coming year? Should it?
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