Tag Archives: Millennials

So … that just happened

My wife and I were out to lunch yesterday at Aladdin’s in Worthington. Not my typical kind of place, but I’m always open to trying new things. My general feeling about Mediterranean food is that they serve a lot less meat (though it’s seasoned quite well) than I would like to see on my plate, even if it is closer to the amount of meat you should actually eat in a portion.

Stupid American “diet”.


As it happens our server shared the same first name as my wife, a name that isn’t particularly common among people our age. The server commented that she actually knew a ton of people in “her generation” that had the name. Our server was 22. I’m 30 years old and my wife is … less than that but approximately the same age as me. And yet apparently we’re part of a different generation.

The thing is, we totally are.

I’ve written before about “the floppy generation” and I’ve heard some people my age and a little older called the “Oregon Trail” generation. Both theories express the difference in generation based on the technologies they grew up with. We watched the internet being born, but still remember libraries and film strips, and really old games.

However, as it was pointed out to me by the boomers and the Gen X’rs in my office, they’ve watched the computer go from the size of a room to the size of a watch in their lifetime. The computers that me and you consider stone age relics were the iPad’s of their day relative to their starting point.

So maybe technology isn’t the best way to define the divide, or at least hardware. Social media and texting and a general desire to self promote has certainly shaped the current millennial generation, but it’s not like those of us sandwiched in the middle aren’t trying to get in on these things as well.

We had an electrician in this weekend who was talking about how it must seem strange to us to see someone handwriting a receipt on paper (he had an old carbon paper receipt book), but truthfully I know many people my age who carry around notepads and little pieces of paper right next to their gadgets. Typing random little notes to yourself on a tablet still seems much more involved than just a quick note on paper. I suspect that this is still true for people in that 8 years younger than me generation.

So what makes us different? Well I think generational lines can be fuzzy and ultimately it’s just a feeling. This young lady took one look at us and guessed we were in a different generation, even if other people might lump us together. It’s perception, values, gut feelings.

Or maybe I just look really old. But if I do, please don’t tell me.

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You lost me. No really. What are you guys talking about?

Next week we’ll be continuing the discussion of walking away from faith. For those of you who want to catch up, here are links to all of the posts so far:

Generation Gap – Who are the millennials or mosaics or whatever we want to call them? [BTW] Ben Trube, Writer

Generational Distinctives – What makes the millennials different than previous generations? Bob on Books

How would you describe yourself? – What words do millennials use to describe themselves? [BTW] Ben Trube, Writer

Nomads, Prodigals and Exiles – How are different groups “lost” to the church? Bob on Books

Faith Outside the Church – The journey of a sometimes nomad, sometimes exile. [BTW] Ben Trube, Writer

Christianity and Me, part 1 – What a prodigal admires about faith. Brian D. Buckley

Christianity and Me, part 2 – Why am I not a Christian? Brian D. Buckley

One final thing to leave you with for the weekend: an interesting story I came across today on NPR that seemed relevant to this topic.

For An Ex-Christian Rocker, Faith Lost Is A Following Gained – Exploring the loss of faith through music.

Thanks to everyone who’s commented or posted so far! If you have anything you’d like to talk about, or questions about this topic, please leave them in the comments.

Happy Friday! Beware of Snowmageddon!


Filed under Faith + Life

How would you describe yourself?

Is the millennial generation “discontinuously different” than the generation before it? Are changes in technology and culture shaping a generation that is unlike any that have come before.

David Kinnaman explores this question in Chapter 2 of You Lost Me, the book my dad and I are reading together on young Christians walking away from faith. Last week I talked a bit about the split I believe exists within the millennials. Dad then continued the dialog (sorry Dad, I refuse to call it a blogversation 🙂 ) with a post about three distinguishing characteristics of the mosaic\millennial generation: access, alienation, and skepticism of authority. I think Dad correctly assesses that alienation and skepticism are characteristics that have been present in at least his generation and mine (and probably the Gen X’ers as well). Access, or the ubiquity of technology is the thing that may uniquely characterize our generation, and even my perception of a split within millennials.

But how do millennials describe themselves?

According to a 2010 Pew Research study cited in You Lost Me the five things millennials use to describe what’s unique about their generation are the following:

  1. Technology use
  2. Music/Pop Culture
  3. Liberal/tolerant
  4. Smarter
  5. Clothes

Previous generations use terms like work ethic and morals to describe themselves, respectful is also popular. And pretty much every generation believes it is smarter than the last.

I can’t argue with point 1 (Technology Use), sitting in front of the TV listening to music on my headphones while typing on my netbook with my Kindle open beside me. At least the beagle curled at my feet is analog and not digital. I think the toughest question our generation will face is how we raise our children with technology, but that’s the subject for a future post.

Point 2 (Music/Pop Culture) kind of makes me wonder when the question was asked. Are you telling me that boomers of the 60s and 70s didn’t describe themselves as having unique music and pop culture? I have a feeling that if you ask any 20 something what defines them, music is going to make the list. But if you ask each generation in the same year, but different times of life, this answer might change.

Point 3 (Liberal/Tolerant) is again born of the legacy of the civil rights movement. We all tend to be more liberal when we’re younger and that’s where the millennial generation is right now. Many of us, even Christians, see the issues of gay marriage and same sex rights playing out in our culture as the next logical step of the civil rights movement begun in the 60s. We don’t have the same reaction to war that our parents did, at least not to the same extent, but many of us feel as strongly about what happened during the war in Iraq as our parents did about Vietnam. Perhaps as we grow older we will grow more settled, more conservative, less radical and more traditional, as our parents did. This doesn’t seem quite so “discontinuously different” to me. It’s not conservative, but it is morality and values, just a different set of them.

Point 4 (Smarter). Millennials are smarter. Of course we are. Get used to it. Every teenager is born knowing everything there is to know about life, and their parents have nothing to teach them from their decades of experience. It’s just useless to even try. Hopefully members of the previous generation have at least the rudimentary intelligence to realize I’m being a bit sarcastic here. The human brain hasn’t changed much in 2000 years. We just get better at storing information and making it available. That doesn’t make us inherently smarter. Pluck a child from the 10th century and plop him into the 21st and assuming he doesn’t die from shock, he’d learn to adapt pretty quickly. Get over yourself.

Point 5 (Clothes). Those who know me well know I have nothing to contribute to this question. I do not care about clothes. I am not a man who is defined by my clothes. Nor do I particularly think from what little I’m able to observe that our generation has contributed anything particularly unique to clothing, except for maybe wearing less of them. Taken more broadly I might classify this as consumerism which defines Americans as a culture, not just a generation. I don’t think millennials are the first to do this, and we aren’t going to be the last. (Yes, Dad my house is full of books and media because we went to Half Price Books all the time as a kid, that one’s on you 🙂 ).

This may be how we describe ourselves now, but in 20 years we might have a different set of words. Maybe we’ll be less honest with the question, most likely our view of ourselves will have changed over time. We’ll have a better understanding for our relationship with the world and each other, and how technology shaped us long term. And maybe we’ll see what we have in common with the generations that have come before, and the ones that follow us.

How would you describe your generation? Does that describe you?


Filed under Faith + Life, Trube On Tech

Generation Gap

I’ve started reading a book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…And Rethinking Faith. My Dad and I are going to do a little blog back and forth on the topic in a few weeks, specifically we’ll be talkin’ ’bout my g-g-generation.

Or not.

This book is concerned with what is commonly known as “the millennials”, mostly people 18-29 (I’m 28). The book refers to this generation as the “mosaics” (1984-2004), a name which is meant to capture the wide variance in viewpoints and experience.

But I’ve never really felt like a millennial, and not just because I’m on the edge of the boundary. I’m not a gen X’er, but I feel I have more in common with people 10 years older than me than 10 years younger. Maybe a little bit of that is my current age and demographic, married guy/engineer/homeowner, but if I think about it I felt the same way even before I was any of those things.

I think there’s a split somewhere around 1997-98 or what I’ve called the “floppy” line*. The split has little to do with the floppy disk itself and more to do with the ubiquity of the internet and the always connected society. Take this quote from a recent popular post by a millennial:

“We live in a country in which you don’t exist until you’re online.” ~Source: Be Like Aslan

I work in the tech industry, in a business that supports the cloud, and that sentiment makes me shudder. I fully appreciate the fact that 99% of you would never have heard of me until I started this blog, and certainly my current vocation and avocation rely on the on-line world. But I was doing plenty of existing before sitting in front of a keyboard, or a phone or a tablet. So much of my life and my destiny were shaped by interpersonal connections in the real world (I met my wife in Bible study).

I am not a “netizen” by birthright, but children born in 1997-1998 were.

I’m not making an entitlement comment. It is the goal of parents to give their children a better world than the one in which they lived, and technological advances have always been a part of that. I just feel like I’m part of a generation that has grown up with technology, but has not been shaped by it in the same way as those 10-15 years our juniors. For me, technology is external, a tool for doing the things I want to do. It’s not a part of my life, or at least not a part of my perception of reality.

I’m living with technology, not through it.

What do you guys think? Is millennials or mosaics too broad of a catch-all term? Where would you draw the split?

*Technically I used floppy disks for classwork up until 2003 but they had been on the way out for years.


Filed under Faith + Life, Trube On Tech