Are Millennial's just self-indulging, entitled narcissists or just plain nice people leaning toward communal values? A recent article in the New York Times - "The MIllennials are Generation Nice" - shares that this oft-studied "generation has created habits and tastes look less like narcissism and more like communalism. And their highest value isn’t self-promotion, but instead the opposite, empathy — an open-minded and deep-hearted connection to others."
A stark contrast to nearly all of the other generational research published to this point, Sam Tanahaus' article makes some obvious points about the values and culture of this generation that comprises people born between 1980 and 2000 and numbers roughly 80 million Americans, more than the Baby Boom cohort. The article is based upon a recent Pew Study - "Confident, Connected, and Open to Change" - and argues that this new generation of American leadership has witnessed a world that no generation has observed before their time.
"What Pew found was not an entitled generation but a complex and introspective one — with a far higher proportion of nonwhites than its predecessors as well as a greater number of people raised by a single parent. Its members also have weathered many large public traumas: the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, costly (and unresolved) wars, the Great Recession. Add to those the flood of images of Iraq and Katrina (and, for older millennials, Oklahoma City and Columbine) — episodes lived and relived, played and replayed, on TV and computer screens.
For a generation digitally wired from childhood, and reared on apocalyptic videos and computer-generated movie epics, not to mention the exploits of hackers, these events showed the real world to be as tightly networked, and for that reason as easily disrupted as the virtual one, even as the grown-ups in charge, the guardians of order, seemed overwhelmed and overmatched, always a step behind."
If you are an educator seeking to find the best ways to connect and communicate with this generation in your classroom, or better yet, thinking about the parenting habits that will form out of the Millennials, this is not only a must-read study, but a view that may leave you with great hope and optimism for the future.