Eric W. Bailey, a graphics designer based in Boston, created a Chrome extension that turns the word Millennials to Snake People in the browser, Jacob Brogan at Slate reported yesterday. This morning Jillian Berman over at Marketwatch expanded on the story with an interview with the clever designer who had an extra hour on his hands to create the extension.
I love what he said: “I saw one article too many and then I had some free time…I’ve got a lot of empathy I guess. Bailey explained to Berman that he “created the program in part because he feels for a demographic that’s constantly being labeled by their older peers.”
Labels are too convenient and Boomers and GenXers are too quick to slap everything that’s frustrating about their own lives in relation to Millennials’ with a negative connotation to the entire generation. Yes, irony, thy name is Lee – I recognized that I just exhibited the convenience of the labels.
Millennials has so many negative connotations though that a simple Google search yields over 1,000,000 entries for “negative remarks about millennials.” “Entitled,” “spoiled,” “bad work ethic,” “disrespectful” are just some of the negative words that appear over and over again. Of course that PALES in comparison to the 34,000,000 results “negative remarks about Boomers” or the 46,000,000 results for “negative remarks about Generation X.” Of course Boomers and Xers are older so there’s been much more time to complain about them.
However, I don’t think that Boomers and Xers shed their generational tag as much as Millennials have. In the research for my book, I talked with Millennial after Millennial (I talked with Millennials with jobs ages 19 – 34 although the generation spans the 20 years from 1980 to 2000) who eschewed the tag. I heard “I am NOT a Millennial” over and over and over again. What I heard was 2o and 30-somethings deriding their cohort colleagues who rely on their parents to pay for rent or cars or expenses. As Liz, 30 last year, told me “it’s going to come back to haunt them. It already does haunt them in the office” by being pegged for being a slacker and therefore getting sidelined for career-advancing assignments.
In fact as Berman reported earlier this month about a study from the Public Religion Research Institute, most Millennials don’t identify as Millennials…not even by a small margin! 2/3rds of this generation of 80 million (that’s 52,800,000). I can’t find any reference to Boomers or Xers casting off their generational moniker this way.
Millennials get a bad rap, and a LOT of the bad rap has to do to with disappointments from their older colleagues, and a convenient loss of memory about what it was like to be in your 20s and early 30s. Because I guarantee you that we were complained about too, but maybe not as vociferously as Millennials have been.
So if changing “Millennial” to “Snake People” makes people laugh and then think about what they’re reading, I’m all for it.
Of course I scored an 88 when I took Pew Research’s How Millennial Are You Quiz…(psssst: I’m a Boomer.)