My daughter is a Millennial. I have also heard that generation referred to as the Facebook Generation because they are connected to each other and the world through technology and social media in ways like no other generation. These young people range in age from 33-14.
I am technically an "X-er". I was born in 1967 and so at the front edge of that generational designation. I do not feel a strong connection to either Baby Boomers or Generation X. For me, my defining time was the 80's. That is when I was in high school. First Lady, Nancy Reagan was encouraging young people to "Say no to drugs.". We had big hair. We would go to friend's houses to watch the new channel M-TV because not everyone had cable. Michael Jackson, Madonna and Michael Jordon were formative for our culture even if you were not totally aware of who they were - yet.
(This is what they looked like then.)
My lack of awareness regarding national and world events has become so clear to me now as I watch amazing movies like Dallas Buyers Club. It is hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that so many people were alienated and dying a horrible death from AIDS while I was worried about clear skin. Not that it isn't normal for teenagers to worry about their looks, but I was oblivious to anything outside of my small world. That is not the case anymore, even for our teenagers.
The world in which my daughter has been formed has never known peace. She was one year old when the shootings at Columbine High School happened. She has never known school to not have lock-down procedures. She was nine on September 11, 2001. Her world view is war. And because technology permeates every corner of our lives, she did not have the luxury of being oblivious to issues that were once seen as something only adults should worry about.
These realities set her generation apart from all others in a way that is more significant that just a "gap". We simply can't put ourselves in their place.
And yet...as a generation they have not lost hope. They live a life in which they have a meaningful circle of friends, they rescue animals, they plant trees, they join causes in which they know they will make a difference. Their dream may not include owning their own single-family house because of crippling student loans, but they are making home for themselves.
They are not oblivious. Millennials are not self-centered and isolated. They are passionate about the state of the our world (politically, environmentally, socially) because it is their world. They know what is going on. They have definite opinions about it and their feelings do not follow red or blue state lines. All opinions of substance do not come from Fox or MSNBC. They are imagining solutions that us "old folks" have not thought of.
When the loudest voices in our media talk about Millennials, it is with a sense of sadness - how this generation does not know the "good old days". How this next generation has missed out on the best days of the United States. I do not agree with that at all. Millennials are teaching this not-quite Gen-Xer, big hair loving, moon walking, child from the 60's to pay attention differently. We live in a time of many voices. I look forward to hearing the ideas, opinions and world view of this generation. They think differently than me. That is great! I can't wait to be a part of the future that is being imagined now. I have learned my lesson. I do not want to be oblivious.