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I’m 29, but I’m Not a “Millennial”

OK, by definition (and this quiz), I am a millennial. Millennials were born from the early 80s to the mid-90s and I was born smack dab in the middle of that timeline in 1986. So, I’m a millennial.

Recent media coverage will tell you that, as a millennial, I love Bernie Sanders, am likely giving up on driving while simultaneously am embracing mainstream cars, I’m not saving for retirement, I need an app to save me from loneliness and I’m crazy stressed out due to my obsession with perfectionism.

And those are just the stories that have been written this week about my people.

Let me clear up those articles for you. I’m on the fence about Bernie Sanders, I still drive everywhere in a car that’s 10 years old, I’ve been saving for retirement since I was 22, Facebook has already saved me from loneliness because it reminds me I have real human friends in just about every city I travel to and, finally, if I’m stressed out it’s because my puppy pees everywhere not because I’m unrealistically ambitious.

If there was a nice, one-word way to describe “pleasure derived by someone upon hearing another person state a sweeping generalization about millennials” (kind of like schadenfreude), I would definitely list that as one of my hobbies. Like, please, tell me what I like and dislike and all my goals and dreams. This’ll be fun.

If Baby Boomers are ages 51-69 and Generation X is 35-50, then the millennial generation needs to be broken down even further. I’d go as far as to say every five years, there should be a new sub-category of millennials. Technology has changed our lives so quickly that someone 5-7 years younger than me may never remember the days of writing a research paper on actual paper. Or using a library’s card catalog. Or — oh god — fighting with your younger brother because he wants to use the Internet but you are still talking to your best friend on the phone.

These may seem like small innovations, but they drastically changed the way we grew up and, ultimately, how companies should market their products to us. How you reach a 20-year-old is very different than how you reach me. Hell, my 25-year-old colleague had to teach me how to add someone as a friend on Snapchat. If that doesn’t blow up your millennial stereotype, I don’t know what does.

There is one article about millennials that I do agree with, however, from Pew Research Center: “Most Millennials Resist the ‘Millennial’ Label.” Amen! Pew Research Center reported that 40 percent of adults 18-34 consider themselves part of the “Millennial generation,” while 33 percent place themselves in Generation X (ages 35-50), primarily the older millennials.

So, a word to marketers and the media — you can be proud of the cute term that you coined, but understand “millennial” is only a term and that it will never accurately describe an entire generation that is 80-million strong.