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Millennials: Don’t Call Us Millennials

Millennials sit in a circle on grass looking at their phones.
Elizabeth Fernandez—Moment Editorial / Getty Images

The group is more likely to consider themselves self-absorbed than older generations, a Pew Research Center survey shows.

Millennials are a curmudgeonly lot if a new report from the Pew Research Center is to be believed.

Pew looked at data from 3,147 adults and assessed how the nation’s generations—Silent (ages 70-87), Boomer (ages 51-69), Gen X (35-50), and Millennials (18-34)—judged their own, as well as other, generations. Seventy-nine percent of Boomers are proud to call themselves so, for instance. And on the other end of the age spectrum, Millennials are disdainful of their generational name and all that’s associated with it. They were the age group least likely to describe their group as having qualities like being “patriotic”, “responsible”, “willing to sacrifice”, “religious”, “moral”, “self-reliant”, and “politically active”. Only about one third of the Millenials surveyed consider themselves compassionate and hardworking.

“To be sure, some of these differences may be related more to age and life stage than to the unique characteristics of today’s generations,” the report reads.

It’s not hard to understand why some Millennials might want to distance themselves from an identity that has often been equated with being self-absorbed, whiny and spoiled. “Millennials are significantly more critical of their generation than older age cohorts are of theirs,” the report notes.

Millennials, however, are environmentally and socially conscious: they’re more likely than older people to say that there’s “strong evidence” of climate change. They also want to push for alternative energy and are generally more accepting of homosexuality, interracial marriage and immigration.

Of course, there are variations within each generation. For instance, some older Millennials (27-34) identify more with Gen Xers: they remember a life before the Internet, find themselves socially different from younger Millennials, and don’t identify with many pop culture icons and events that define the life experiences of the college set.

It still is worth noticing, however, that regardless of where someone falls on generational self-identification, one thing is apparent: Millennials, of all ages, generally don’t care for the term.

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