The Millennial Muddle: How Stereotyping Students Became a Thriving Industry and a Bundle of Contradictions
Kids these days. Just look at them. They’ve got those headphones in their ears and a gadget in every hand. They speak in tongues and text in code. They wear flip-flops everywhere. Does anyone really understand them?
Only some people do, or so it seems. They are experts who have earned advanced degrees, dissected data, and published books. If the minds of college students are a maze, these specialists sell maps.
Ask them to explain today’s teenagers and twentysomethings. Invite them to your campus to describe this generation’s traits. Just make sure that they don’t all show up at the same time. They would argue, contradict one another, and leave you more baffled than ever.
Figuring out young people has always been a chore, but today it’s also an industry. Colleges and corporations pay experts big bucks to help them understand the fresh-faced hordes that pack the nation’s dorms and office buildings. As in any business, there’s variety as well as competition. One speaker will describe youngsters as the brightest bunch of do-gooders in modern history. Another will call them self-involved knuckleheads. Depending on the prediction, this generation either will save the planet, one soup kitchen at a time, or crash-land on a lonely moon where nobody ever reads.
Everyone in higher education has pondered “the Millennials,” people born between 1982 and 2004 or thereabouts (the years themselves are a subject of debate). Ever since the term went prime time about a decade ago, a zillion words have been written about who Millennials are, how they think, and why they always _______________. In short, Millennials talk is contagious.