The truth is, I am the world’s oldest millennial
Here you go internet, it’s time you know the truth: I am old. I was born in 1982, the oldest of five siblings. My parents, a blue-collar, conservative, idealistic couple, wanted a big family from the get-go, and they wasted no time.
My mom had all five of us by the time she was 28; my brother, born in 1991, was the tail end, coddled since he was a baby. He was a dreamer–optimistic, always playing instruments and spacing off in class.
I felt it was my job to inform him that he was spoiled. He was.
We were in the same generation, technically, but couldn’t act more differently
Birth order wasn’t the only thing that affected us. In the almost ten year span from the time that I was a young adult until he was a young adult, our country’s access to technology and opportunities changed rapidly.
We didn’t even have a personal computer while I was in school (again, we were a blue collar family, and some of my classmates’ families did have a computer, but still). By the time my brother was in 7th grade my parents decided to get with the program and invest in a family desktop; my brother’s ease with any kind of gadget will always be far beyond mine.
His love for Nirvana and Seinfeld was considered retro
I remember listening to Smells Like Teen Spirit when it first came out (on the actual FM radio!) and talking about the airplane scene of the Seinfeld finale in high school.
He was too young to join MySpace when it arrived on the scene; I signed up with enthusiasm. These days, he doesn’t really bother with Facebook, while I update all of my aunts and high school friends on important life events frequently.
Junior Millennials vs. Senior Millennials
Our differences could be categorized as typical between a youngest and oldest sibling; however, they are also due to the fact that we are born on different ends of the millennial spectrum–he is a Junior Millennial and I am Addressing the generation gap between Junior and Senior Millennialsa Senior Millennial. When I graduated college, our country was three years post 9/11 and four years from a recession. Things were bleak, and about to be bleaker.
The Washington Post pointed out these differences, particularly in idealism and opportunities. In the article, “Millennials are the Lost Half-Generation” Catherine Rampell noted that, “the younger members of Gen Y are loaded with debt, but they are at least graduating into an economy with expanding job opportunities; meanwhile, the cohort of young people unlucky enough to have entered the job market during a time of scarcer openings sees its economic misfortunes (and resulting inability to afford a homestead or other life milestones) persist.”
She explained, “When openings are rare, young people take whatever job is available and get stuck on a lower trajectory, at worse-paying firms, with fewer opportunities for upward mobility. Many may end up trapped in the wrong industry altogether, at least when it comes to earning potential.”
How we react differently to an unresponsive job market
Apparently this unresponsive job market has affected a good amount of my Senior Millennial peers – leaving them shuffling between careers, or stuck in a low-paying gig. They are probably reminiscing about the glory days of the mid-90s, when we were all playing with pogs, dialing up the internet, and we shared a vague sense that the economy, under the Clinton administration, was doing just fine.
The younger sect of the millennials, meanwhile, just entered the workforce a couple of years ago (or they’ve yet to enter the workforce, as is the case for my extremely young and optimistic 17 yr old sister-in-law). We have not completely recovered from the Great Recession – our economy is not all roses – but we are in an upswing, compared to where we were seven or eight years ago, meaning the Junior Millennials have entered and will enter at peak times compared to Senior Millennials.
I’m a dinosaur in my generation
My brother came to visit me recently, and he was characteristically bright-eyed and carefree. He’s being promoted at his job, but he’s considering a change: thinking about taking some college classes to work in the technology industry. I could be more specific about the field he’s interested in, but to be honest, I don’t understand most of his technology references.
Probably because I’m old. Okay, okay, I’m not old. But compared to my brother, and my teenaged sister-in-law, and most of their digital, inventive, happy-go-lucky, 25-and-under cohorts I am old.
I am, at least, a dinosaur in my generation; perhaps the oldest millennial in the world. And I accept it. I am the world’s oldest millennial.