Or at least deeply contradictory: They’re always connected but distrustful. They’re selfish yet accepting of minorities. They’re “independents” who mostly vote Democratic and love Obama while hating Obamacare.
Millennials—or Generation Y, which, by varying definitions, includes you if you’re somewhere between 14-34—are the subject of constant obsession and worrying from the managers trying to hire them, the marketers trying to sell to them, and the parents and grandparents trying desperately to get them to call once in a while using the “phone” feature on their smartphones.
So what can we possibly learn that’s new from Pew’s massive survey? Many things, actually—and mostly contradictions. Which is about right when you’re trying to sum up 85+ million people in a handful of adjectives.
Bullet point highlights from the article:
- This generation is getting totally screwed by the economy … but we’re the most optimistic generation in the country.
- This is the most technologically connected generation in modern history … but also the least trusting.
- This generation has record numbers of single parents … but it also has the most negative attitudes toward single parents.
- Millennials are famously “the most diverse generation ever” … but we don’t even deserve the label.
- This is the most educated generation ever … and the deepest in student loan debt.
- The U.S. economy has never been bigger … but it’s never been harder to live better than our parents did.
- Millennials are less likely to self-identify as Republicans or Democrats … but they also have the highest approval rating of Congress.
- Millennials are much more liberal on gay marriage, pot, and immigration … but no more liberal on abortion or gun control.
- Most Millennials (like all generations) oppose benefit cuts to Social Security … but young people also don’t think there will be any money left in Social Security when they graduate.
- Millennials voted overwhelmingly for Obama, want universal health care, and are fine with a bigger government … but they oppose Obamacare just like everybody else.
- “They care deeply about the environment” … except that they really don’t.
Troubling to note is the decline in prioritizing religion (any religion, not just Christianity):
For students like Chris Dill, a freshman from Austin, Texas, the priorities seem a little out of whack.
“Success, having a good job, those are most important to me,” Dill said. According to the study, a high-paying job and religion were some of the least important priorities, each weighing in at 15 percent.
But compared to those 30 and older, the success and religion set the generations apart, with 21 percent of the older generation prioritizing religion and only 7 percent saying success is a priority.