my manager keeps disparaging millennials on Facebook (and I’m a millennial)

A reader writes:

I’ve got an issue with my manager that I’m not sure how to address. My manager and I are friends on Facebook (she added me, and not the other way around). Normally, I wouldn’t have accepted, but it’s unfortunately a cultural norm around this company that everyone, across several layers of management, is friends on Facebook, so I went along with it.

My boss occasionally makes comments about millennials or shares links to articles and videos about “millennials in the workplace.” The comments and links are mostly very condescending, along the lines of “millennials are entitled special snowflakes,” “millennials don’t work very hard and then immediately expect promotions,” and “millennials are obsessed with social media and have no social skills.” It doesn’t help that Boss has accidentally made comments in the past about how young I am, and therefore how inexperienced I am. There’s about a 15-to-20-year age gap between us.

I haven’t had any feedback from managers about displaying those sorts of “typical millennial” things in any position I’ve held. To be honest, I don’t think those characteristics are typical of any specific generation, but that’s not what I’m looking to get into here.

It’s possible (and I’m sure it’s likely) that this is unintentional, and she doesn’t realize that I can see these things or that I’d find them offensive. I just can’t shake the feeling, though, that she doesn’t respect me because of my youth, and that posting things like that where direct reports and coworkers could see it is a marker of really bad judgment.

I have blocked my boss’s posts from now on, so I can put it out of my mind as much as possible, but I’m wondering how/if I should address this directly with my boss or with HR. Any thoughts?

What’s your relationship with your boss like? Do you have pretty good rapport?

If so, the next time you’re having a reasonably relaxed conversation with her, you could say something like this: “I’ve noticed you post a lot of things on Facebook about millennials. As a millennial myself, I’ve always gotten good feedback on my work ethic and I’ve certainly never felt entitled to a job or a corner office or anything like that, and I don’t see more of that in my peers than in any other generation. In fact, among my peers, because so many of us graduated into a bad job market, I see a lot of gratitude for the opportunities we’re given. I’ll be honest — those articles are frustrating to read, and when I see my boss posting them, I worry about what you think of me.”

She might brush you off with something like, “Oh, I didn’t mean you — you’re different.” But there’s a decent chance that you’ll actually get her to stop and think

But if you don’t have particularly good rapport with her, I’d be more inclined to just roll your eyes, know that she’s obnoxious in this regard, and stick with blocking her posts.That’s not to say that there isn’t still value in bringing it up even if you don’t have strong rapport (as long as the relationship isn’t outright bad), or that it might not make just as much or an impact on her, but it probably isn’t what you want to spend capital on in that context. (Better relationship = more capital to spend.)

I would not, however, address it with HR. In theory, yes, HR should point out to your boss that posting crappy articles that disparage an entire demographic group is a bad idea, but I don’t think it rises to the level of something that you should spend capital on reporting, given that business publications are full of this kind of swill.

And for the record: It’s far past time for people to drop the stereotypes and hand-wringing about millennials. Those stereotypes were never right to begin with but rather were about being younger and less experienced in the work world, not about born between 1982 and 2004. And speaking of the years that define millennials, the oldest of them are now 35. They’re hardly kids anymore, and these stereotypes aren’t just wrong but weirdly outdated at this point.

{ 431 comments… read them below }

  1. Colorado*

    This is reason 1,579 why you should not be Facebook friends with co-workers, eek, let alone your manager! Though I see it wasn’t your preference. Your boss is acting immature and as Alison said, if you have a decent relationship, politely call her out on it. I’m so sick of this whole millennia crap. I’m 45 and I remember when it was all Generation X crap. Grow up people. Every generation has their stuff to deal with and if you really look into it, history does repeat itself and the crap is all the same. Just different people dealing with it in a different generation.

    1. DoCl*

      1000 times this. I just can’t think of any reason why being Facebook friends with co-workers and especially senior colleagues is a good idea (I know it wasn’t the OP’s choice, but not good judgement on the manager’s part).

      1. Any Moose*

        But it was her choice. Just because it’s the company culture, doesn’t mean you have to do it. I don’t have a facebook account and frankly don’t know if I ever will. Too much drama.

        1. Gaara*

          Well, I’ve never had Facebook drama, but I do have a Facebook account. If my boss friend requested me, it would be my “choice,” but man it would be hard to decline that request given the power dynamics in play.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            But it really doesn’t have to be like that. You “forget” to do anything with the request because you’re “rarely on Facebook.” Or you ignore it and if asked (which is unlikely but could happen) you say that you hardly ever use it and keep it for just extended family. Or so forth.

            1. Freya UK*

              Yeah, I’m strict about it, I just say that I don’t add colleagues while we’re working together, and if they looked at my FB they’d see I keep my flist small anyway (actual friends & family only).

              At worst, if you’re the kind of person that really feels that kind of ‘peer pressure’, you could accept the request but put them on your restricted list where they’ll only ever see your public posts.

              Also, why do people keep their pages public in this day and age?! I’m on full lockdown!

            2. LQ*

              I only do it from a desktop I rarely use. I go through a separate browser that I only use for FaceBook. I have to update it and check security settings every time. I always have to do the multifactor all of the steps thing because I’m going through a different location. And on and on.

              And by the time I get half way through the third sentence they’ve gone “Ok Ok! You don’t FaceBook!” Even the person who used to ask about once a week stopped after this. (I was trying to get her to back off asking and it worked brilliantly.) It’s all true too.

            3. MashaKasha*

              We had one woman at OldJob who told everyone, “I’m sorry, I don’t add coworkers” that was back in the day when everyone in the office was adding everyone else and playing Mafia Wars together. Back then, we all thought she was being strange. Now, though, this woman is my hero. It is much, much easier to never add the person in the first place, than to add them and then have to unfriend them later.

        2. N.J.*

          A choice made under duress isn’t the same as a choice made freely. If the dynamics of the OP’s workplace are such that most are FB friends and her boss, the person who literally has power over her means of earning a living, friends her, then it’s not just a case of it was OP’schoice.

    2. Michele*

      Yeah. I have a direct report who has a lot of the same interests as me. We have significantly overlapping social circles. I am not even friends with her on FB because I don’t want her to think that I am trying to invade her personal life.

    3. Bunny Purler*

      “The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them.”
      Supposedly from a sermon by Peter The Hermit, 1274 AD.

    4. HR Jeanne*

      This is so true! Generalizations about generations are ALWAYS wrong, because there is no group of people who are exactly the same. I remember the Gen X crap too, our Baby Boomer elders thought we were spoiled and selfish and entitled, sound familiar? The Millennials that I work with are a diverse group of people, just like any other generation. This attitude needs to go away.

      1. Colorado*

        Remember we were the “latch key kid” generation of both parents working so we were wild and unsupervised. haha..

      2. Sacred Ground*

        And you can read what the Boomers’ parents had to say about them back in the ’60s and ’70s.

    5. SystemsLady*

      I think it’s fine if you’re at the same level, it’s extremely unlikely you’d ever be managing each other, and especially if you’re in a different department (while somehow becoming friends) or the nature of your job means you end up interacting mostly outside of work (work related conversations are mostly just “hey how would you do this?” texts).

      But I’m shocked at how many mutuals I have with the single HR person (who frequently shows up on my recommended list). Just not a good idea in a lot of cases.

      1. SystemsLady*

        (of course, if your workplace pressures you to add everybody as friends and the person you want to add has succumbed to that, probably looks better to not do that at all)

  2. whack on the head*

    Just because someone sends you a friend request doesn’t mean you have to accept it…
    Defriend; if asked, tell them that you use FB as a personal account and don’t add colleagues’bosses.
    Odd that your boss encourages it, last place I was at I was unfriended when an associate became the big boss; current place I never added the boss as a friend.

    1. Morning Glory*

      The main problems as I see them are 1. that the boss believes these things herself and 2. that the boss is posting these things where OP’s colleagues can see them.

      I would never want to be in the position telling my boss that I think I deserve a raise/promotion etc. knowing she may have trouble being objective on whether I actually deserve one, or whether I just feel entitled to one because I am a millennial.

      I would also feel uncomfortable knowing she was reinforcing potential prejudices in my coworkers if they were older than me by consistently posting things like this to social media. Unfriending seems like a band-aid in my opinion.

      1. AC6*

        I would never want to be in the position telling my boss that I think I deserve a raise/promotion etc. knowing she may have trouble being objective on whether I actually deserve one, or whether I just feel entitled to one because I am a millennial.

        THIS, completely. Blocking the posts only limits the routine exposure to direct offenses, but what has been seen cannot be unseen, as they say. I hope LW and boss have a good enough relationship that LW can address this head-on, because having these concerns in the back of one’s mind can legitimately negatively impact LW — stereotype threat is a real thing. Being proactive about this may allow LW to feel more comfortable moving forward by politely placing the burden of better behavior back where it belongs, on the stereotyping boss, rather than feeling like they must be constantly combating the bias of a judgmental person.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        I don’t use FB, but would it be ok to just comment to her boss on the post something like “you do realize I’m a millennial right? LOL” (the lol to keep it light yet get the point across)

        1. ThatGirl*

          I get that you want to keep it light – but I would suggest maybe a smiley or two, I kind of hate “LOL” as punctuation and you wouldn’t really be laughing.

          1. Tuesday*

            I agree. LOL seems to have become a way for people to say, “I realize I just said something you’re not gonna like but I don’t want you to be mad at me so I’m going to put this LOL here so I can pretend I was just joking.”

            Replying with a comment like Stranger than fiction suggested (sans LOL) might work depending on the relationship, but remember that all of boss’s Facebook friends are also going to see it. That means the LW would be opening herself up to all of them and perhaps starting a conversation she’d rather not be a part of. Better to not engage on that platform.

            I think unfollowing and adding boss to the “acquaintances” list is the way to go. That way LW doesn’t see boss and boss only sees LW’s public posts, and there’s no potential for awkwardness since she won’t know that she’s been unfollowed.

            Which doesn’t help LW unsee previous posts, but at least future millennial hate won’t be in her face every time she logs on to Facebook in the future. At least not from her boss…

            1. Kyrielle*

              Also, responding where all the boss’s friends can see may be taken by the boss as “calling her out” in front of those friends.

        2. Mustache Cat*

          Nooo, that’s a terrible idea. That’s asking to get into it on facebook, which is a bad idea in all cases but especially when you have to go see them the next day.

    2. Nephron*

      I get the suggestion to not friend or unfriend, but the social norms are such that unfriended on Facebook is almost a nuclear option socially speaking. I wish it was not so, but if a coworker friended me on Facebook or I was already friends with them I could destroy my professional relationship with them if I unfriend.

      1. H.C.*

        I disagree that it’s a nuclear option, esp if you are primarily/only acquainted with your boss via work. The “I prefer to keep my personal and professional lives separate” line should be fine (and if it’s not, that’s certainly a sign of bigger cultural dysfunction in your workplace.)

        1. Kyrielle*

          For not friending in the first place, yes; for unfriending – the same sorts of boundary-issues people who would push friending in a work culture heavily are probably correlated with (not 100%, but enough to matter in making the decisions) the sorts who get very upset about being unfriended.

          1. pope suburban*

            I can’t necessarily *recommend* this approach, but were I in the OP’s shoes, I would unfriend the boss and then, when confronted about it, explain quite sincerely that I had read that young people need to be more professional, so I was redrawing my social media boundaries. But then again, I am sick unto death of hearing people tell me how lazy and terrible I am, so my inner snark has developed a tendency to leak. :’D

          2. Cactus*

            the same sorts of boundary-issues people who would push friending in a work culture heavily are probably correlated with (not 100%, but enough to matter in making the decisions) the sorts who get very upset about being unfriended.

            You would be 100% correct about that.

          3. Sketchee*

            I would definitely unfriend the boss and just deal with consequences. If they push back, I’d just be calm and nice about how it’s not a big deal and not something I use. I’ve done it and all involved were reasonable

      2. SystemsLady*

        I know that wouldn’t be the case for my work friends (maybe the most I’d get is light ribbing to go work somewhere else), but in this kind of workplace might just be better to use the post privacy filters (block coworkers from seeing posts by default) and the mute function.

        1. CanCan*

          That’s if you’re mostly concerned about your posts on your own page. But if you’re into making comments in public groups, or “liking” posts/comments on your friends’ pages, – I don’t think you can block a friend from seeing that. Technically, your public posts are public, anyway, but your friends get notifications about what you post. so regardless of your privacy settings, your friends are informed of your activity, such as: liking pages or posts on to controversial subjects, engaging in discussions on controversial subjects (or just subjects that you’d prefer to keep outside of work).

          I have many interests that have nothing to do with my job. Many of those are controversial or unpopular. I wouldn’t want to defend my interests or opinions before my coworkers.

    3. Green Tea Pot*

      Blocking the boss is an option, too. Chances are boss lady won’t ask questions. Just say you are trying to cut back on social media usage.

      You may have to block coworkers, too.

      An, not sure about anyone else, but I’d probably work my fanny off trying to prove the boss is wrong.

  3. Alucius*

    Can you “unfollow” her on facebook? That way you’re still friends but you won’t see anything she posts. Of course, if your colleagues share her posts, you’d be out of luck.

  4. Karanda Baywood*

    Or Boomers being blamed for high healthcare costs and “no social security left when I get old.”

    1. Artemesia*

      And for what its worth boomers (and those to follow) have been paying extra for social security since the 80s when Reagan dramatically raised SS taxes to pay for the baby boom. It is good for another 20 or 30 years IF congress is willing to pay back the money taken for tax cuts from the social security trust fund and with a little fiddling with cut off levels, indefinitely.

      1. Grr*

        ” IF congress is willing to pay back the money taken for tax cuts ”


        Sorry, couldn’t help it.

        1. Artemesia*

          yeah — but different from ‘there just isn’t enough money because the system is not sound, baby boomers yadda yadda’ Baby boomers were factored in.

  5. GenXer*

    Every generation has nasty stereotypes placed on them when they enter the workforce. Like with so many other things, it seems so much worse that before because of the internet.

    When I came of age, GenXers had to fight the stereotype we were all lazy, slacker stoneheads.

    I know Baby Boomers who tell me they were viewed as being all hippie radicals who had no respect for anything, etc.

    The older folk always do this to the younger.

    That doesn’t make it ok, it’s just not novel.

    1. Mike C.*

      I’m not sure that anyone has said it was novel. It’s certainly more harmful, given the economic situations each generation has faced, however.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Ding! I’m juuuuust older than millennials, but I sure enough felt the GFC right along with everyone else. I make under $25k in my 9th year at my job, in part because there’s still virtually nothing else available that I’m qualified to do. My parents are late Boomers/early Xers and their financial/economic reality was so radically different as to be not comparable at all with what, say, my brother has faced.

        1. Artemesia*

          This. Many of us Olds don’t have a clear idea of what young people faced going into the catastrophes of the crash as we entered the workforce during a boom time. AND many Olds don’t have a clear idea of what a good salary is especially if they are very rich or retired. 50K is not a very good salary to live a middle class life in the world today. When I entered the workforce making a then piddly 5,200 a year, 50 K seemed like very tall cotton. And many Olds have these ideas of a ‘good salary’ fixated from decades ago when it was a good salary. If you make a million a year, you have no idea of what a good mid range salary is and may think 50K is just fine, like it was in 1968. We see this with minimum wage where assorted pundits have said ‘well I only made, $2.50 and did fine’ — when they came of age when $2.50 was much more valuable than today’s minimum wage and when college tuition was close to free.

          1. paul*

            I have a great-uncle who was shocked that 35k isn’t considered good wages for a multilingual STEM graduate since that’s waht he made when he retired…back in the mid 70s. He’s not a dumb guy, but it’s like he thinks inflation stopped.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              My father was making around 25k in the early 80s and that was above average income. When my father first started working around 1927 (seven years old) he made ten cents a day. This is a wildly different set of reference points than what exists today.

          2. Michele*

            I notice that with my parents. Because most of their stuff is paid for, the really have no idea how much things cost. I think the prices of sometime around 1990 got stuck in their heads, and that is all they think anything should cost. They also don’t understand why the minimum wage has gone up and needs to go up more. They just see it as they didn’t make $7.50 an hour until they had been at their full-time jobs for a few years.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Can you show them the math? ($7.50 x 40 hours then minus taxes) Then ask them to look at the prices of rents, food, gas in relationship to that take home pay number?

              I remember looking at this stuff in the early 80s. I was making $2.91 per hour. Depending on the week I might take home $80. Rents were around $300-$400 per month in my area at that time. The math did not work then and it is way worse now.

            2. Anxa*

              I have this issue with my mom a lot!

              I’m probably a reverse millennial stereotype. I do think that 30k sounds like dream (with no family), but only because I’ve been making so much less. My current SO makes quite a bit more than 30K, but after the costs of moving and student loan debt, and by choosing not to room with other roommates (half a choice, half really hard to find roommates as a couple), it doesn’t go that far. So I know that 30K really isn’t that much, but even I can feel like it is a lot.

              My mom hears of younger people with 50K salaries and acts very jealous, but she has owned her own home for decades.

          3. Lora*

            Agree 100%. When I see what the young people today *shakes cane* have to deal with in terms of competition for getting into college and getting jobs, I honestly don’t know how they aren’t all dying of anxiety disorders. There’s lots more people, but not lots more colleges or lots more jobs, and the competition over the slightest, tiniest things which are not at all relevant in any meaningful sense is cutthroat.

            I graduated from high school with a 3.8 gpa and college with a 3.4, with a work-study job in my department and a couple of senior thesis projects, but no internships – and I still got into plenty of excellent graduate programs, some of the best in the country, and had multiple job offers in my field. They didn’t pay awesome, they were sort of awful jobs, but I HAD offers and they were in my field, full time, and had benefits. I paid off my college loans and debt within a few months of graduating; I only had to take out a fairly minimal amount because between scholarship and Pell grants, my tuition was pretty well covered.

            That’s not even possible nowadays. I’d be considered ridiculously mediocre and a total slacker, despite putting in well over 100 hours/week on research projects, work-study and part time jobs outside of school. Miraculously, I still grew up to be a productive member of society and even, dare I say, respected in my field. And if I hadn’t gotten a job right away out of college, I would have worked the same blue collar jobs my cousins did, degree wasted. My family didn’t have any money to support me while I looked for work, it was work or go on welfare or be homeless. I got up into the white collar middle class because I was able to find a job in my field quickly.


            1. SeekingBetter*

              Glad to hear that you were able to get a job in your field quickly after graduation. I remember working at least 20 hours a week while being a full-time student for just my basic expenses. Pretty much loaned the cost of my education. With school, projects, and that, I was working at least 90+ hours a week and coffee was my best friend. But I didn’t find a job in my field until almost 7 years after graduation, due to working a service job at the time.

          4. TootsNYC*

            I saw a Facebook “poster” the other day that said,
            “Kids today have to pay for housing, gas, food, and clothes–just like we did. But they also have to pay for Internet and student loans.”

            There were other things on the list, I think but they were all of them ordinafry expenses nowadays. But the basics haven’t gone away!

            1. Not So NewReader*

              A friend of mine who is about ten years older than me was talking about “in her time” you could actually work your way through school. You could pay as you go, just keep working while you take classes. Now the costs are so high I wonder why anyone bothers. I don’t see how people can put even a dent in their tuition debt by working and going to school.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                A lot of finaid programs now require that you work in order to receive loans/grants, which of course makes no real dent in your student loan debt and has the added benefit of limiting your professional development and academic opportunities.

                I remember one policy that expected a minimum 15 hours/week during the school year (including finals weeks) and 14 weeks of full-time, paid employment over the summer and 2 weeks of full-time winter employment during the winter recess (which was 3 weeks long). The summer recess was 11 weeks long. No one could tell me where the extra summer weeks were supposed to come from. I tried to compare it to other similar programs, and it turned out that they all required a minimum “work” contribution of 15 hours/week during the academic year. It was almost as disheartening as for-profit university schemes.

              2. Anxa*

                I think what often gets overlooked is that it’s not just the cost of education that has climbed so much higher than wages, but also basic expenses. I work with students with no tuition expenses that still drop out because they can’t afford to lose hours at work for class and school.

              3. babblemouth*

                Additionally, a lot of the jobs that were traditionally “reserved” for high school and university students have ended up being taken by older people who just can’t seem to get any other job. So if you want a part-time job as a cashier or waiter, you’re second in line behind someone else who doesn’t have the school schedule requirements you’re putting forward.

            2. Working Mom*

              Yes – so completely true, and something I’ve recognized in my own budget but didn’t really think of how it impacts a younger person just starting on their own. And have you tried to buy a basic smart phone that isn’t $600? They don’t exist. It’s absurd. I struggle with this – totally puts it in perspective how much harder it would be on half my income. The younger generation does NOT have it easier. And who said they are surprised all millennials don’t have anxiety disorders? Amen to that – they grew up with social media in their faces – I’m exhausted just thinking about it all.

          5. DoDah*

            OMG! This! I make in the low six figures (single person) in a high COL area and I would consider myself barely comfortable. When I moved here 21 years ago–I made 35K and I was barely comfortable. It is astonishing how salaries have not kept up with housing/food/transportation costs. I feel for the next few generations!

          6. (Another) B*

            YES. People need to look at the ratio of money earned : money required to live comfortably.

            It is so much more expensive now – inflation is insane.

      2. Sas*

        Unless you get really fortunate, “the economic situations each generation has faced, however” affect each generation.

    2. Working Mom*

      I agree, every generation looks at the younger generation and says, “Kids these days ____.” I will say though, that it would be falling into the “millennial stereotype” to go to HR, complain that it’s offensive, etc. (Note: I know that Alison did not recommend that.) But I think it bears mentioning that is the stuff that feeds stereotypes. For example “millennials are all special snowflakes who are coddled” and then you see an article that your boss posts on FB and complain to HR that you find it offensive. That would just feed the stereotype. Better to do what Alison suggested and just talk to the boss and say, “Hey, do you view me that way?” Then from there discuss current performance, how you’re doing at work, etc. Now you’ve shown your boss that not all millennials are like the stereotype – instead you are mature and responsible. But overall I absolutely agree that the stereotypical millennial traits is not based on one’s age – I know people in their 20’s who have none of these traits, and people in their 50’s who act like the stereotypical millennial. Keep on fighting the good fight, OP! Prove ’em wrong ;)

      1. TeacherNerd*

        Again, though, going to HR – or not – may not be much a facet of being a Millennial as being inexperienced. Here there might be overlap, but any bad behavior can feed ageist/age-related stereotypes. It can be difficult to ascertain company norms in that way as well. (I base this on my own experience in education. There were some schools at which I taught where This Behavior was Completely Unacceptable, whereas This Very Same Behavior at anther school was met with, Well Yes Of Course It’s Fine. One needs to ask sometimes. And I’m solidly in the GenX age camp.)

        1. Amy G. Golly*

          Yes! It’s hard to know what is/is not appropriate in any given situation when you don’t have a significant body of experience to refer to. The media love to target Millenials with articles about how all the ~scandalous things~ they post on Facebook are going to ruin their careers. You can see why someone might get the impression that disparaging an entire generation of coworkers on Facebook – after initiating contact with those coworkers – might be an offense serious enough to take to HR.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        You are kind.
        I would be tempted to point out that this generation will be running the boss’ nursing home that she is in. It would be prudent to invest wisely in those who will be taking care of the boss in her golden years.

        1. PlainJane*

          THIS. And for those of us old farts who have Millennial kids… we raised ’em. So if we think they’re whiny and entitled, whose fault is that? (I’m only being partly serious here, but really… it’s a point).

    3. Lady Blerd*

      I have to admit that I used to crap on millenials but AAM, along with working with actual millenials, has changed my thinking ont this. Hence why I roll my eyes hard now when I see that obnoxious Simon Sinek interview go by and almost went Hulk .él

      1. paul*

        Our CEO went on at our last staff meeting about how awesome that was.

        I refrained from audibly expressing disgust.

      2. babblemouth*

        That speech was so obnoxious. I didn’t even see most of it, I stopped listening after a minute. He’s probably blame it on my short attention span.

    4. Mazzy*

      I think the picking at millenials has gone overboard compared to past generations picking on the young ones. Maybe its the internet. I don’t remember 100 articles a day on how genX was special snowflakes like there are now about millenials.

      1. Formica Dinette*

        I think you’re right about the internet. And once we finally got internet, we had to walk six miles uphill in three feet of snow while listening to the sound of a modem connecting in order to post articles on our Angelfire pages.

      2. ExceptionToTheRule*

        It’s the internet. We didn’t have it when we were coming of age. I started college in 1992 & the internet was text-based (BBS & Usenet, anyone?). Netscape Navigator & AOL came out while I was in college. We had plenty of movies & TV shows & music about our stoner slacking though.

        1. Slippy*

          I miss my old BBS :(
          Also back then computer security research wouldn’t get you 8-12 years in jail if you slipped up.

      3. Newt*

        I think it’s also the corporate influence that’s made it worse.

        We get the same articles that previous generations did about being lazy, entitled, impatient and technology-dependent. But it seems as though actual businesses have started getting in on the action. So you see articles bemoaning that “millenials are killing the fabric conditioner industry” or “millenials are killing the car industry” or “millenials aren’t joining the property ladder and this is hurting the housing market” or, and I swear this was a real one I saw, “why aren’t millenials buying diamonds”. All raising weird questions about supposed millenial spending habits and answering their own questions with stereotypes and assumptions.

        I’m sure there used to be a time when an industry that couldn’t thrive in the current market was expected to pull itself up by it’s bootstraps, take stock of its shortcomings and either find a new solution or die as a natural consequence of a free economy. And I’m sure there used to be a time when *buying products* was a personal choice rather than, apparently, a moral obligation.

    5. Tuesday*

      I saw some Facebook post a while back complaining about millennials with their man buns and unwillingness to put on a suit and go to work. Essentially, “Get a job, longhair.” It’s like vintage generational criticism straight out of the 60s.

      1. Annie Moose*

        That’s incredibly funny to me–one of my coworkers (who’s even younger than me, only graduated from college last spring) has long hair that he frequently wears in a bun, wears suits to work every day, and is one of the hardest working guys I know!

    6. SystemsLady*

      Yeah, my parents got the same thing – and they did make a lot of young’un errors that they’ve warned my siblings and I off making, so it was even worse for them.

      I’m lucky they remember those mistakes rather than conveniently forgetting themselves into laughing at our silly millennial mishaps or whatever.

  6. Anna*

    Ugh. I’m guilty of buying into the whole “millennials see the world SOOOO differently” thing, but have recently changed my perspective. I agree that there are differences in generational cultures, but it’s not as broad as these articles tend to portray. Recently chambers of commerce have taken it upon themselves to educate the rest of us on how different it is to hire/work with/etc. millenials and it’s an attitude finding traction where I work because young adults are our clients.

    Nothing to add, really, just that this Gen Xer is sorry you have to deal with this stuff popping up on your Facebook feed. Alison’s advice is really good. A gentle nudge from you may help your boss realize it’s condescending and pretty lame to generalize a whole bunch of young adults like this. And again, as Alison point out, the leading edge of “millenials” are reaching their mid-30s now. Most of them have had at least one job if not several more and know a thing or two about workplace norms.

    1. GenXer*

      “I’m guilty of buying into the whole “millennials see the world SOOOO differently” thing”

      A lot of people buy into this.

      Even if the young ‘uns see the world differently, so what? (In this scenario). Even if the stereotypes were true (which I don’t think they are), it’s still completely inappropriate for a manager to post this on Facebook.

      A lot of people think Facebook is a “private space” but if you have invited work colleagues in (who are not friends of yours otherwise), it is not.

      1. Working Mom*

        And also, seeing the world differently is an incredible and amazing thing. Its a huge benefit to have people in the workforce who have all different points of views, they will all see a problem from a different angle. It’s really quite a blessing!

        1. Artemesia*

          It is also useful for managers to have some knowledge of generational differences and also of life cycle pressure differences as it does inform management of people. Just as it is useful if you work with Native Americans to know something of their culture or Asians to know something of their culture etc etc The evil is when this becomes a set of blinders rather than something that adds a dimension of consideration.

    2. Michele*

      The thing is that I think Millennials do see the world differently. The morals of society as a whole have changed significantly in the last 50 years, and I think it is for the better. Racial epithets, homophobia, and gender discrimination all used to be considered moral, but having sex before you got married wasn’t (if you got caught, but they never admit that). Now those things are considered immoral, but people aren’t as concerned with who other people are sleeping with. That is a huge flip in mindset.

      1. Anna*

        It’s true, but I’m thinking more along the lines of we all have similar issues and the issues that affect young people today are very close to those that affected me when I was their age, so in that their thinking isn’t alien. Like I said, generational cultures are different, but they aren’t so dramatically different that there’s no way to relate. After all, the things I see happening in our world now are being seen by other people too. We don’t exist in vacuums.

      2. TootsNYC*

        well, one way that I see a difference in the attitudes of newly minted college grads is that they’ve seen businesses take advantage of workers, and they want to be sure they don’t end up there

        I can’t say that’s a bad change.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          My parents felt that businesses took advantage of the workers. (It manifested as a blue collar mind set.) I think that subsequent generations are handling that better than previous generations. For one thing they find more solutions where applicable. And secondly, they speak up more often and speak louder when they do. They are more articulate. They can describe or label/identify unacceptable behaviors that previous generations could not even begin to address. It gives me a lot of hope.

      3. Mazzy*

        I think all of these changed starting with early baby boomers though, so people who are around 70 today.

      4. Student*

        I’m not sure you’re really all that in touch with how things worked “back in the day” or how things work right now outside your personal social sphere. Your version sounds like the made-for-TV middle-class US WASP version. It’s how things “back then” are perceived by people now, but it is not accurate. It’s also a strikingly rosy view of “how things are” now.

        Today’s liberal millennials are also the same generation of people who tried to burn my eyes out 20 years ago in public school because they thought I was gay, among other things. I’ve heard my millenial peers say racist things and believe themselves morally righteous in doing so. Many of my peers shamed those who got pregnant out of wedlock. A fair amount of them aspired to only have sex with “the one” – and were/are widely considered to be moral paragons for having this aspiration, even by many of those of us who never made such plans.

        Similarly, you paint a bleak and uniform picture of 50 years ago that isn’t realistic. That was in the middle of the civil rights movement of MLK – not everyone accepted racism; large swaths rejected it. The civil war was waged over 150 years ago – the US deeply divided over some of the darkest parts of racism, such as slavery, with a huge win for black Americans in the form of winning the right to vote about 147 years ago. Many people found racism and slavery morally repugnant long before then; there are discussions of racism and slavery in the founding of the US about 241 years ago, and it wasn’t a new topic then, either. On having kids out of wedlock, the Scarlett Letter was written 167 years ago and wrestles with the topic of whether or not it makes sense to condemn people for having sex out of wedlock.

        The point being, you seem to have a very narrow view of the world and how people see it. There’s so many more wrinkles out there, both now and historically, so many views that your stereotypes don’t encompass. That’s why we call them stereotypes – they are vastly oversimplifying matters to the detriment of those who hold such views. I implore you, let them go – enter the world and learn about what people actually think and do instead of coming up with an alternative world in your head based on pop culture and brief, narrow views out of your window.

        1. Mazzy*

          I agree. I think things have changed but not in these ways. Mostly in terms of access to things. If you wanted information you had to mail it in and wait for a response, or go to he bank in person, or wait for a fax and hope no one took it or wait until the library was open to get information. Or call lists of people at work to get information or answers. I think it made certain things feel more special and led to more patience. However, it’s not really generational because technology changes impact everyone. That is one reason I find the generational articles interesting. Many of the events they use to define generations happened to everyone, so why does it matter if you were a kid or not at the time?

        2. Anna*

          There is no such thing as “the way we were” however, Sociologists and other people who study society/culture/what-have-you would say at the 30,000 foot level, attitudes have shifted. Otherwise no progress would ever be made. Just as your example of the Scarlett Letter, whether or not Nathaniel Hawthorne was asking that question 167 years ago, it was less than 100 years ago that women who were pregnant out of wedlock were still sent away to have their babies and give them up for adoption (even about 45 years ago, as someone I knew had it happen to her). The people who tortured you did it 20 years ago, but at that time you couldn’t be arrested for being gay, perceived or actually. So while things move slowly, I would point out that nobody here is making the mistake that you are attributing to them.

          1. Michele*

            Exactly. I am not saying that things are perfect now or that everyone born before 1960 was a racist, sexist, homophobe. There will always be outliers. Islamophobia has become trendy, and that is a problem. However, things are significantly better now than they have been in the past. For example, when Ellen DeGeneres came out 20 years ago, it was a radical move that nearly killed her career. Today celebrities come out all the time and no one bats an eye. Last year, a gay couple that I am friends with got married in a red state, and people were happy for them. That is amazing progress.

            Similarly, I am impressed with how girls today are standing up to sexism and calling guys on behavior that used to be considered perfectly acceptable. I wish that when I was their age, I had the courage to openly mock jerks the way the do and shut them down.

            I remember the days of people making openly racist jokes while everyone around them laughed. It wasn’t that long ago. I am part of Gen X, and that was normal when I was growing up. It is not normal now. I think that Student is the one with a narrow world view.

  7. Eric*

    Since your boss is posting these on Facebook, could you also have this conversation in the comments to your bosses post?

    1. Colette*

      I would advise against this. It would be visible to all of the boss’s contacts, and prone to the issues that come with reading tone out of text. This should be handled in person (or not at all).

    2. BRR*

      I don’t think that is a good idea. It feels like a facebook argument plus other people could also comment with far less professional wording.

    3. Mike C.*

      I’ve certainly done this, I just remember to be more thoughtful and give more benefit of the doubt than I normally would online. This won’t work for everyone, but it’s not impossible.

    4. Agnodike*

      Noooooo, don’t do this. Facebook comments are a terrible place to have a sensitive conversation, and a conversation that might be interpreted as you criticizing your boss is always, always going to be sensitive.

    5. iseeshiny*

      I see everyone is saying this is a terrible idea, but to be honest this would probably my first inclination, too.

      *boss posts millenial disparagement*

      “Am I going to be seeing this in my performance review? :P”
      “Stop talking about me where I can hear you!”
      “#personallyoffended #moneyistheonlyparticipationtrophyiwant”

      And then tons of passive-aggressive “lol”-ing for every subsequent article. No one should ever do what I would do, though, I have terrible judgment.

      1. Amber T*

        I think iseeshiny’s way is a good idea! It could be used as a gentle reminder that hey, a bunch of your coworkers (that you decided to be facebook friends with!) can see this, and a lot of said coworkers are millenials, the very group your bashing. If you can bring this up in a funny and light way, it might be easier to start the conversation of “this really isn’t cool.” Follow this up with Alison’s advice!

        1. Agnodike*

          I think there are some bosses who wouldn’t mind being publicly called out on an unfortunate attitude, but that number isn’t so high that I think it’s a risk-free strategy. Facebook doesn’t erase the power dynamics within relationships, it just gives them another platform on which to play out.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          This is what I was thinking, as ling as she keeps it light (outwardly) it may get the msg across

      2. hbc*

        I’d probably do this too, but with ample cover that I’m joking. “Oh, shoot, I hope this wasn’t inspired by me requesting more pens last week.”

    6. Temperance*

      I’m pretty aggressive, so I’ve done this to annoying Boomers (mostly my husband’s terrible relatives) and my JerkBoss, but I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone you want to have a good relationship with going forward. I tend to counter stupidity about Millenials with attacks on Boomers, but not at work.

    7. Beth*

      I did wonder about just hitting “like” on the post. Sometimes I forgot that certain people read my posts until this happens..

      I also pondered the idea of the OP posting her own articles like “Baby Boomers are Ruining the Entire World”

      I know, very passive aggressive, so I don’t *actually* recommend but it amused me to think about.

  8. GenXer*


    Can I make a preemptive plea that we not devolve into what stereotypes about what groups are true or not?

    While it’s perfectly ok to say, my generation faced “X” stereotype when we were young, I fear that this could very easily derail and become a quagmire of intergenerational sniping.

    1. Artemesia*

      Stereotype is just a pejorative word for ‘generalization.’ And most of them are based on truths, just NOT the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We use generalizations and experiences to navigate the world; we have to work to not let them blind us to the specifics before us.

  9. narmowen*

    Set up a group and put your boss in so she can’t see stuff you post, and unfollow her so you don’t see what she posts. Easiest way around it, IMO.

  10. Mike C.*

    Hey folks, maybe we can dispense with the “advice” not to ever connect with coworkers outside of work? It wasn’t really the OP’s choice, it’s too late for the OP anyway and there are plenty of contexts where it makes sense or folks otherwise act like adults. Even still, it wasn’t a mistake for the OP to do so as she learned something very, very important about her manager.

    Also as someone who’s at the tip of the spear of the millennial generation, I usually like to point out that blaming people for how they were raised or for political policies they weren’t legally eligible to vote for is a really, really stupid thing to do. Reasonable people back down when you point that out, and for those that don’t are just angry people looking to blame others for their own problems.

    1. Collarbone High*

      Agreed. I’ve worked in places where being connected on social media was absolutely a part of the culture, to the point that refusing to do so would have been as bizarre and off-putting as showing up in pajamas. And places where no one would dream of friending a colleague. It’s unhelpful to criticize people for following their office culture.

      1. AC6*

        Plus, the office culture isn’t a problem in and of itself here; presumably other coworkers are being prudent with respect to what their coworkers see. The problem is that the boss is showing poor judgement by publicly blasting the people she works with, even if indirectly.

    2. AD*

      Mike, I’m not really seeing folks “chastise” OP about this.

      It’s clear in her post that friending the boss wasn’t her idea. But, it’s worthwhile to point out that, in most cases, being connected on Facebook to your manager is not a great idea for all sorts of reasons. As Alison has brought up in multiple other posts.

      1. Mike C.*

        I didn’t say “chastise”, and there are tons of comments saying pretty much what I’ve pointed out they would say.

      2. Natalie*

        Eh, the OP probably already knows that now, and regardless the damage is already done. Telling them they shouldn’t have friended their boss seems like telling someone who got mugged that they shouldn’t have been carrying so much cash.

      3. Bwmn*

        I think a bigger point is that for some jobs and some places of employment, refusing to participate in any kind of Facebook creates more problems and is weirder that implementing professional Facebook guides/behaviors. For my present job – which overall isn’t very Facebook heavy – there are a few internal Facebook groups I was asked to join, and balking for reasons of “I don’t mix Facebook with work” would have been interpreted as strange and counterproductive.

    3. Bwmn*

      I completely agree with this.

      Prior to this job, I was definitely more firm on no coworker/Facebook crossover. But as a long in the tooth Millennial, I’ve found the majority of my peers Facebook has become far less informal and personal than it was initially and I have more work demands that require using Facebook. When I initially had to start having more Facebook/work crossover – I’m not going to say it was entirely error free – but it also wasn’t some massive disaster.

      Some people still wear suits every day and in other industries it’s no longer present at all. So an idea that a blanket policy against Facebook use is one that can apply for all jobs/industries is the same as saying “suits are suitable for all jobs”.

    4. Former Retail Manager*

      “Even still, it wasn’t a mistake for the OP to do so as she learned something very, very important about her manager.”

      YES, Mike, YES!!! Knowledge is power and the more you know about how someone thinks, their viewpoints, beliefs, etc. the more it can help you in certain contexts. (It may also be totally useless to be fair, but I’ve found that learning these things about both managers and co-workers has always proven very valuable to me at some point in time.) I think that knowing this about the manager is very valuable information in the OP’s case.

    5. PlainJane*

      “Just angry people looking to blame others for their own problems” – this. Most of the people I know who bash whole groups of people have either failed at some aspect of their lives, think they have, or are convinced they don’t have the life they “deserve.”

    6. Turtle Candle*

      blaming people for how they were raised or for political policies they weren’t legally eligible to vote for is a really, really stupid thing to do.

      Yep yep yep. One thing that I take great joy in pointing out is that while, yes, I got participation trophies as a kid–I knew they were meaningless, but I still got them–I wasn’t giving them to myself. I was four freaking years old; I was no more capable of deciding who got a trophy than I was of driving to Vegas. If participation trophies are The Cancer That Is Killing Society (which I don’t think they are, but for the sake of argument) the blame lands squarely at the feet of the Boomer-era parents and teachers, not the four year olds who never asked for them.

  11. CaliCali*

    I once had a coworker (Gen Xer) start going off about millennials until I pointed out 1) that technically, I was a millennial, though at 35 I’m a bit long in the millennial tooth and 2) these were the same complaints every “sophomore” generation has about the “freshmen.” (I note a lot more grousing about millennials from Gen Xers than any other group.) Like any stereotype, people tend to think in abstractions — or of one person who exemplifies those traits — and they forget that it’s real people they’re talking about. I agree with Alison in that, if you’ve got a decent relationship with your boss, it’s worth addressing, but otherwise I’d leave it alone. She’s likely not giving it a ton of thought; she’s just doing that typical judgmental thing of people who have put in their dues but now feel like others aren’t doing the same.

    1. Kelly L.*

      Thinking in abstractions, and sharing memes on FB without even fully reading them or thinking about them.

      I see a lot of my co-Gen Xers sharing memes that describe their supposed rustic life down on the farm growing up. They only had two toys: a knife and a block of wood. They never ate a processed food, nothing but home-grown and home-cooked produce every meal. Their mom knit all their clothes from tree bark. (Yes, I’m exaggerating.) And I’m sitting there reading this and thinking: “I knew you when we were kids! You lived in the burbs and played Nintendo while drinking Ecto Cooler.” The meme maybe, maybe, applies to their grandparents or great-grandparents. Maybe.

      1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        Ecto Cooler’s comeback is one of the best things to happen recently. Now if only Hostess would start making Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pudding Pies again, and the folks who keep saying they’ll bring back Bonkers actually come through, my life would be complete.

      2. paul*

        The original NES was released in 1985; assuming that it was mostly elementary and middle school kids wanting them those people would be in their 40s or 50s today (say, 6-15 years old in 85). I always get baffled when people in their 40s act like they grew up in the 1950s or 40s.

        Even then, my dad’s 61 (or 62?) this year and he remembers evenings aroudn the TV and radio.

      3. PlainJane*

        Hey, we had to *walk across the room* to change the channel :-) But yeah, you’re right. My favorites are my friends from high school, who complain about “these kids today” doing exactly the same stupid crap they did at that age. Sometimes I wish I had photographic evidence; then I remember how glad I am to have grown up before cell phone cameras and social media were around to document every dumb thing I did.

    2. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      Memes are the bane of rational discussion.

      I’m barely a Millennial, but I still have to remind my social media friends of that when they occasionally go off the rails about how this generation is X, Y and Z unlike every single previous generation where they knew the value of hard work and entertained themselves with good wholesome outdoorsy fun lalalala.

      “You do realize you’re talking about me, right?” usually gets the point across. Either that, or a cheerful, “Yep, that’s me, rotten brain, rotten morals, rotten work ethic!”

      1. PlainJane*

        The outdoorsy fun thing always makes me laugh. We spent our summer vacations watching game shows and Brady Bunch reruns. Or maybe that was just me…

  12. Catalin*

    Oh Gosh no, unfriend all your coworkers and your boss(es) and tell them you got off Facebook IF they ask. Thankfully, Facebook doesn’t announce unfriending, and they may not even notice you’re gone. I have a hard and fast rule; if I’m working with someone, no Facebook. If they leave or no longer work with me, then I’ll friend them. Once I had to unfriend someone because they returned to being a coworker, but it’s a solid rule and I’m sticking to it.

    1. Mike C.*

      The rule is perfectly fine for you, but outright lying about leaving Facebook is taking a bit of a risk, don’t you think? There are tons of ways to accidentally/innocently find out that someone still has an account after all.

    2. Kyrielle*

      If they’re just unfriended, they can see your account – and some extensions *do* announce unfriending, by monitoring your friends list. (I’d say people using that are asking for their own drama, but it still is drama the person unfriending them doesn’t need. And some of the ones that do it do other things – FB Purity, for example, which I use to trim down clutter. I think you can turn off the unfriending notices, but I also think they’re on by default.) OP’s technique of unfollowing is probably safer in terms fo not being detectable.

    3. Alton*

      This is hard to do without changing your name to something they won’t recognize. I think it’s risky to lie about being on Facebook after the cat is out of the bag, so to speak.

  13. Abby*

    Why hide that you are unfriending your boss? I like Whack’s suggestion of just being honest about unfriending colleagues. You could fib that the amount of political commentary on facebook makes it hard to coexist with work people or that you know someone who got burned by it and just leave it at that.

    1. Anna*

      Because if you decide to remain friends with coworkers (that would fit under the definition of colleagues) and the boss can see that (and they can because HEY you have these friends in common), it could make for some awkwardness with the boss.

  14. MegaMoose, Esq*

    Ug, that would totally cheese my biscuit (I’m an older millennial myself), but I agree with Allison that, unless you have a fairly close relationship, I’d just let it go (cue orchestra). It’s certainly not just younger people who have bad judgment on social media! With respect to whether these views would translate into judgment of you personally, I would keep an eye open but generally I think people are better at treating individuals well than they are at treating groups well, if that makes sense. Assuming you have a good relationship with her and think she’s evaluating you fairly, this is probably just something to ignore.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        I may have picked that up somewhere or I may have made it up entirely – my friends and I have a running gag about random “that verbs my noun” constructions.

    1. Lablizard*

      The older the person is, the worse their judgement is on social media….Or maybe that is just my family

      1. M-C*

        That’s the same as the anti-millenial postings. It’s just your family. And you might consider investing a bit of time in training your family..

  15. Roscoe*

    I don’t think you should do anything. I’m in my mid 30s. My best friend is a millenial. I post stuff like that online all the time. Usually just because I find it funny. I get that you don’t, but it is facebook. Chances are anything you post is going to be offensive to someone. Block her, and don’t think about it anymore. But since it doesn’t seem like she is treating YOU any different, just look at it as how she chooses to spend her personal time vs. how she interacts with you

    1. Alton*

      But why share content like that if you don’t agree with it, unless you’re going to comment on it in some way? If I see that someone liked or shared something on Facebook, I assume they agree with it unless they make some sort of comment (“What a ridiculous article!”) or choose a non-“like” reaction.

      1. Anna*

        Same. Unless you’re being very clear it’s ridiculous or satirical, I wouldn’t assume even your best friend doesn’t find it a little patronizing.

    2. Morning Glory*

      “Chances are anything you post is going to be offensive to someone.”

      If I offended a person who belonged to a specific group (religion, race, age, orientation, gender etc.) by posting about that specific group on social media, I would personally want to know. This would be doubly true if I was not a member of that group.

      1. Mookie*

        Yeah, I find it very easy not to regularly mindlessly re-tweet, star, favorite, link, or pass along bigoted, reactionary nonsense, that sort of thing is not relaxing to me, and I don’t pretend someone is being “offended AT me” when I accidentally do.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Some people find putting down groups of people is not that funny, this is especially true when the person belongs to that group. OTH, some people just don’t like the same joke over and over. Personally, I dread wading through tons of this stuff so I only look at my FB page about twice a year. I don’t have time to read this type of stuff.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      You realize that under many definitions, you’re a millennial too, right? (Alison picked 1982 as the beginning of the generation, but there’s some versions that place the “start” as far back as 1978/79.)

  16. jg*

    I do appreciate the irony of OP’s boss using Facebook to pontificate about millenials’ obsession with social media and lack of social skills.

    1. Roz*

      YES! I always think it’s hilarious when people are oblivious to this. Just like how I love when Boomers talk about how all us Millenials (I’m 30 – not a child but seems not to matter) are always on our phones, and then at a family event I look around and ALL the boomers are texting their friends and posting pictures of the family, while the Millenials and the grandparents are having actual conversations.

      Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, eh?

      1. Collarbone High*

        My parents sit slack-jawed in front of the TV from the time they get home from work until the time they go to bed, but if I reply to a text I’m “glued to my phone.”

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Yikes. I mean, let’s not abuse Millenials but I don’t think we need to be rude about other generations to make that point.

          1. MegaMoose, Esq*

            To be fair, Collarbone High was talking about their parents, not their parents’ entire generation.

        2. mskyle*

          My mom does this too! She has a TV in every room in her house, including the bathroom (!), and one of them is pretty much always on, but she thinks it’s *so sad* to see my sister and brother-in-law sitting on the couch looking at their phones “all the time.”

      2. Temperance*

        lol my MIL rants about how people just waste time online, and no one has privacy .. meanwhile, she took photos of my house and yard, without my consent, and put them online to show her friends. Ugh.

    2. Mustache Cat*


      Yes, OP–console yourself with irony. You the Millenial are not the one making unprofessional, tone-deaf posts, your boss is.

    3. Lissa*

      I have noticed that some people getting into highly publicized twitter feuds and making jerks of themselves on social media are definitely of an older generation….

  17. Katie*

    I’m sick to death of articles about millenials. Good, bad, or neutral. It’s like someone came up for this term for a generation and it immediately became clickbait.

    1. Kate*

      Google “Adam ruins everything millenials” It’s a talk Adam Conover gave to a marketing conference and it’s great! You’re 100% on the nose that it was made up for marketing, and there’s little to no utility in the term.

    2. Anna*

      I feel you. Remember when it was “tweens.?” Oh you know, 11 and 12 year olds (mainly girls) who aren’t really little kids anymore but aren’t quite teenagers? Let’s create a niche market for them and convince their parents it’s real.

    3. Anon for this*

      There’s a browser extension called Millennials to Snake People that changes words that tend to crop up in garbage stories about age groups into some nonsense about snakes and skeletons. I give it five out of five stars, two thumbs up, etc.

      1. Dankar*

        I have one of those, but it converts “Millenials” into “pesky whipper-snappers.” I occasionally forget about it, which makes reading the news so much more entertaining.

  18. Katie the Fed*

    My millennial employees are awesome. Hardest working, most dedicated, and energetic employees I know.

    1. MashaKasha*

      Agree, I have zero problems with my millennial coworkers, my millennial kids, and their millennial friends. I actually think they are more aware, empathetic, intellectually curious, etc than my generation (X) in many ways. Which means we did a great job raising them, where’s my gold star? heh heh

      I had a discussion with a former childhood friend last month where he posted a link to the usual litany of complaints about how kids, teens, and 20-year-olds these days have no respect for the elders, don’t know how to behave, are entitled, and so on; because their parents didn’t spank them enough, no god in the classrooms and whatnot. The usual. I tried to argue, but almost lost it when he responded with “well good for you that you live in such a nice neighborhood with such nice kids whose parents brought them up correctly”. No dude. I do not live in a bubble like you imply. Neither do my kids, one of whom attends the largest state college in my area and has social contacts all over town. Can you just agree that the new generation is NOT messed up, and one possible reason why is BECAUSE their parents didn’t “spank them enough”? Nope, he couldn’t. I’m not even a millennial and the complaints about that generation are getting on my nerves, because of how far off the mark they are.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        He sounds like a bit of a lost cause in that he seems to rely heavily on truthiness.

    2. Collarbone High*

      I personally feel like I worked much harder and showed more initiative in my 20s than I do now, in my 40s. A lot of that probably has to do with having a different kind of job now (highly specific corporate job that relies on a narrow skill set and expects people to stay in their lane, rather than the smaller places I used to work that were more “everything is everyone’s job”), but I also had more energy and … enthusiasm, I guess. Anecdotal, but the millennials I know now are the same way I was in my 20s.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        That’s me, too. I work hard now, but I had a lot more drive and enthusiasm when I was in my 20s because I just had more energy (and lower-level work responsibilities).

      2. TootsNYC*

        I agree. To be honest, I’m coasting a little. I did a heck of a lot of frantic and effective pedaling earlier in my life.

  19. Trig*

    Oh thank you.

    I’m firmly within the Millennial generation, which I was surprised to discover, because not a one of those thinkpieces rang true for me or my friends.

    The Boomers in my office seem particularly interested in Millennials, as we now outnumber Boomers in the workforce. Luckily, my team don’t see it as a “KIDS THESE DAYS AMIRITE?!” thing, but more as a “we need to adapt our workplace and develop products that appeal to Millennials!” (not in a Hello Fellow Kids way, but with the intention of actually understanding the needs and context of our user base.) But it can be pretty funny when they start talking about Millennials this and that on calls, like we’re this crazy Other. As the youngest person on the team, I don’t like to call attention to my youth, but sometimes I will gently butt in when the moment is right.

    Recent example:
    One team member (nearing retirement), was talking about how Millennials have short attention spans and are living in their parent’s basements playing shooters all the time, so we have to plan our training stuff around that, didn’t we think? I chimed in with an airy, “Sorry Reginalfus, I’m too busy playing a shooter right now to pay attention to this meeting, and the reception’s real bad here in my parent’s basement.”

    He got the point.

    For OP, like my coworkers, I doubt your boss really thinks these things apply to YOU. They apply to the Strange And Other Cohort of Strangers, of which you, who she knows personally, are not a part. Doesn’t mean these articles aren’t annoying, or she’s not being misinformed by them, but I doubt it will actually impact (or reflect) her relationship with you or your work.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Fwiw, there is something to the attention span stuff. Old Sturbridge Village, which is a living history museum in Massachusetts has significantly changed their demonstrations/presentations to be more interactive because with the advent of so many more “distractors”, they’ve found that kids in general have less attention span, so they need to work harder to keep them engaged. Whereas before, just watching a process and listening to a spiel with some ability to do Q&A worked well. (Before being 30 years ago when I was a kid attending and now being in the last 10 years when I attended with my kids. We asked about the differences and that’s what they told us drove the changes.)

      However, I do also think that there’s a lot of blame to be laid at the door of an insistence on the benefits of multi-tasking. If you’re used to multi-tasking, how do you focus/stay interested when you’re only working on one task?

      1. fposte*

        And it may mean that long attention spans don’t have as much value as they used to. Different skills are valued in different moments of history and different places in culture. Memorization ability is down too, but people don’t tend to complain as much about that because that was already growing less important.

        1. NW Mossy*

          There’s quite a lament going in some circles about the slow fade of cursive writing. I find myself fascinated by perfect Palmer-method signatures, particularly compared to my own “are these even letters?” initials-only scrawl.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, good example! I cringe with guilt every time I remember my wonderful third-grade teacher’s enthusiasm over my very nice script writing. Sorry, Mrs. Thomas, but apparently it peaked when I was eight and has gone downhill ever since.

          2. Kelly L.*

            I have a hard time getting worked up about it, since handwriting styles come and go. We don’t all still write like Queen Elizabeth I wrote, or like Thomas Jefferson wrote, but we can still mostly read it. I think the same will happen with the particular type of cursive that people are lamenting. It will go out of fashion, to be replaced by something else (likely a version of the half-print-half-cursive that most people I know use), and eventually we’ll look at old documents and think “Huh, ye olde people made their letters weird” but basically be able to make it out.

            I think it’s the only writing style a lot of us have ever known, and so it’s hard to realize it wasn’t handed down on a stone tablet from the heavens, and that a lot of its peculiarities were created to work well with a fountain pen.

            1. fposte*

              That reminds me of those goofy “The college class entering this year has never …” lists. But most of those things didn’t define humanity for a millennium–they were things for a decade or a few, that’s all. I therefore find it interesting to read those as “Here are the flashes in the pan from your own youth.”

              1. mskyle*

                Ugh, the “Beloit Mindset” – I feel like half of all university/college personnel take it as some kind of deeply insightful gospel, while the other half loathe it with every fiber of their being (I was in the loathing half when I worked at a university, but there was always someone in my department who would forward it around because it was so important!).

                1. paul*

                  I find it funny to read every few years. But it makes me feel old sometimes. I guess I don’t get why people get worked up on it either way

              2. animaniactoo*

                They’re also a version of my family’s “Chicken McNugget moment”. They just speak to the odd intersections where people whom we have a lot in common with have these slightly completely different view of how things are/have been in this world and make us feel somewhat distanced from them in our shared cultural history.

                The Chicken McNugget conversation. My sisters and I range in age: 46, about to be 44, 41, about to be 34. This conversation is being had in the back of a van on the way back from Thanksgiving at the grandparents about 15 years ago (so we were all 15 years younger, but leaving current ages for current clarity).

                41: Well they chain restaurants often do several test runs of foods before deciding to add them to the menu permanently.
                44: Yeah, I remember when Chicken McNuggets were added permanently. I was in X grade, that’s why I remember.
                46: No it wasn’t, I think it was in Z year, because I was _______
                34: What are you talking about? Chicken McNuggets have ALWAYS been on the McDonald’s menu.

            2. Anna*

              I’m on the fence only because I think there’s value in being able to recognize it (the example I’ve heard used is on historical documents) and how do you teach someone how to recognize/read it if they don’t have experience with it? I’m genuinely asking. Have we seen something similar in the past so we know it’s not really an issue?

              1. SarahTheEntwife*

                People learn to read all sorts of archaic writing systems — and for that matter modern languages using different orthographies than their native language — so while we’re definitely putting a larger swathe of cursive into “archaic” now that it isn’t always taught in schools, there’s no reason why kids can’t learn it the same way they’d learn Cyrillic or Elizabethan-era handwriting. :-) I grew up with cursive and I can read most 19th century cursive handwriting pretty easily; 18th century with a lot of squinting; anything earlier and I have a hard time figuring out what language it’s even in. But if I were a historian I’m sure I’d get good at archaic handwriting with a reasonable amount of practice.

          3. Mike C.*

            My god, the anguish and rage I see in the comments whenever this story comes up is AMAZING.


            And so on. I’m sorry folks, but I doubt you’re reading the Bible in it’s original Hebrew/Greek and so on. We will manage taking calculus over cursive and humanity will continue on.

            1. animaniactoo*

              And my kids’ handwriting mostly sucks but that’s also because they’ve been on computers since they were 5. They taught themselves to type early. If they really need to in a pinch, they can write something down. But otherwise, they take notes on something electronic.

              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                Yep. I watch some of my older coworkers type hunt-and-peck with two fingers, while I touch-type at ~95wpm. And yet, the decline of cursive is such a nightmare…? I’m extremely efficient on the computer, which is a valuable work skill.

                1. animaniactoo*

                  You just gave me a painful flashback to a former art director who (old school) did not work to learn when design switched to computer-based. So she’d make paper mockups for us to digitally execute for her. And she typed with one finger. Very quickly. And then would back allllllllllllllllllll the way up if she found a typo and type everything from that point over again.

                  Interestingly, thinking about it, I think while there is a comparative technologically-adverse stereotype for the “older generation” I think that most people recognize it as a subset of the generation vs wide brush of the “Millennials”. Maybe because there was so much push around retraining and needing to “keep up” for older workers as tech changes rearranged what the workplace looked like in some areas? So people saw that *most* people could manage the transition and did so, and it’s outliers who didn’t?

              2. Anna*

                It’s interesting that you say that because I just listened to an article about taking notes electronically versus handwritten and the research showed that students who take notes electronically do worse at retaining the information than those who handwrite. The reasoning is that people who are using their laptops to take notes tend to transcribe, so it’s hard to discern what it vital in all that information whereas a person who in handwriting can’t write fast enough to transcribe, so they have to distill the information to what seems to be key points.

                1. Marillenbaum*

                  I’m in grad school right now, and several of my professors have No Laptop policies for precisely this reason. I’ve honestly enjoyed the switch back to handwriting, because I find it does force me to slow down and think about what I’m writing more; now, I make sure to take notes by hand when I study, even though I have the option of using my computer.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  This has been true for me, but I don’t know how much of this is because many handwritten notetakers also went to school when it wasn’t common to have a small computer permanently attached to you. I find folks who are younger than me seem to retain information equally well in both formats, and they tend to type faster than they handwrite. The biggest downside, though, is semi-transcribing your class lecture instead of listening for key concepts.

                3. Observer*

                  The reality is that the studies are flawed in that they use people who are not used to writing large amounts by hand, so that skews things.

                  I’m old enough that a laptop or tablet in class was not even an option to think about for special cases. EVERYONE took notes by hand. And you would be surprised at how many students did, more or less, transcribe the whole lecture. One of my relatives teaches in a high school that doesn’t allow the kids to have laptops in the class room (Or at least they didn’t when we had this conversation.) She told me that she spends a lot of time trying to teach her students how to properly take notes, as a very high percentage of the students basically transcribe what she says. Especially at the beginning of the school year, she gets a lot of “Please wait, I have to catch up! I’m only up to !”

                  For a number of reasons I took notes that NOTES – brief reminders for myself of what I needed to remember. And, although people wanted to study with me for a lot of tests, because I knew the stuff cold, NO ONE ever asked for my notes – I didn’t take “good” notes.

                  The bottom line is that regardless of handwriting vs computer, most people default to transcription vs real notes, unless they have been taught how to write notes, or they REALLY have no choice.

                4. Hrovitnir*

                  I certainly know it helps me, but I still switched to typing in my third year because the benefit of having super easy to access and backup notes, as well as typing faster (I do NOT transcribe, I try and distill) allowing me to give the lecturer my full attention if it’s something really complicated.

                  For that reason and the fact it puts people with disabilities on the spot to both ask for accommodation and be VERY obvious if they have it, I do not like these policies. But then, I hate patronising one-size-fits-all policies in general, as people are individuals who should be learning to sort their own shit out.

                5. Tinker*

                  Hvrotnir: I mostly abandoned notetaking entirely for pretty much the same reason; static lectures are a really inefficient way to convey information to me, but what benefit I do get from them often seems to be from spending my attention on the speaker (and then doing the heavy lifting by means of reading books and doing exercises later) rather than trying to take notes.

                  As far as the disability thing, that’s another important point. Couple things I’d add:

                  I’m autistic. I say this not because I have a formal diagnosis that I could use to get official accommodations from a university, but because (among other reasons) if you assemble the list of things I was told that I can do perfectly well because I am “smart” but that I don’t do because I am “lazy” and perhaps garnish a bit with things that I did but endeavored to hide doing because I knew it was unacceptably weird or that I would get in trouble for it, what you get starts to look suspiciously DSM-shaped. It turns out that I’m fairly good at finding workarounds without realizing it — and in general, I don’t fail to do things in ways that point to an obvious incapacity. Hence why the lack of a formal diagnosis. Having a flexible environment, therefore, can be a benefit to people who may know that they’re different but who do not yet have a picture of why — either because it’s not well understood in general, or because there’s some understood issue that was missed in their case.

                  Similar like thing — even for people who do fall into the category of “we know that they don’t have to do this thing because they are officially disabled”, the way some skills are addressed encourages judgments that are unfair. I’ve seen relatively progressive people denigrating folks who do not handwrite fluidly — “writing like a child”, “using technology as a crutch”, that sort of thing. It’s used as a shibboleth of adulthood and intelligence, with a sort of out in that people probably would not judge a quadriplegic person on their handwriting — but a dysgraphic person whose presentation is otherwise unremarkable is rather out of luck in that regard.

                  This point is actually part of why I get rather put out by The Cursive Debate (TM). I’ve been known to joke, because of the quality of argument involved, that cursive should be banned because somehow being attached to it causes deficits in logical reasoning. But I really do think that there’s something — it might be a thing about early education, at least in the era when many current adults were taught? — that causes people to attach these disproportionate and counterproductive values to some skills but not others, and that this really is a problem that should not be encouraged.

                6. Trig*

                  Personally, I hand-wrote my notes through university. I tried using my laptop for a few classes, but found it hard to remember (and hard to pay attention, when there were so many distractions available). When it came time for exams, I studied by writing and rewriting my notes or bullet points. It helped immensely being able to picture the part of the page on which I’d written about the topic in my own handwriting, the margin doodle I’d made nearby, and having the tactical experience of writing it down.

                  That said, I grew up taking physical notes and writing assignments by hand. I didn’t have a personal computer/laptop until university, and certainly didn’t have a smartphone. So I might be part of the old guard in this respect, and it’s possible that kids just a few years younger experience things differently

            2. Kelly L.*

              Yup, the Constitution isn’t in Palmer itself, and yet somehow we figure out what all those s’s that look like f’s really are. And I sign things every day without it looking very much like I was taught in elementary school. It’s “a” cursive writing but it’s not “the” cursive writing.

            3. Observer*

              That’s a pretty bad example, though – there ARE those of us who actually do read the original Hebrew ;)

              Seriously, though, I do agree with you. Sometimes the wailing and gnashing of teeth gets to be a bit much.

              As for “How do you sign a check or contract” – the sooner we find a substitute for handwritten signatures, the better. There is a reason that most European countries use chip and PIN credit card systems, and Walmart actually sued Visa to be able to require a PIN rather than use a signature.

            4. Anna*

              I’m going to quibble with the Bible example only because you’re using entirely different languages as examples, which is not quite the same thing. Considering the Constitution is in English to begin with, it’s not quite the same argument.

              That being said, that document is already been rewritten in plain text, so that’s not really an issue. And as far as contracts go, if cursive writing falls by the wayside, a printed “signature” will end up carrying as much weight, so handwringing over that is pointless. I’d be more concerned with forgery, possibly, but probably not really.

              1. Tinker*

                For a bit, my signature on touchscreens was an Ingress glyph. I may yet take up the practice again, as it’s more visually distinctive than my originally cursive-based signature that I did not need to change when I made significant changes to my legal name.

                1. Anna*

                  My touch signature is distantly related to how I write my initials on things. Like fourth cousin twice removed.

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I mean, the issue with the Constitution is that it was written when people used quill and ink. None of us do that, and most crucial old timey texts of that ilk have been typed up at this point. And for signatures, do adults actually sign their name using their most perfect cursive? Because from what I’ve seen, people seem to invent a signature for themselves that’s distinct from common handwriting.

                If not Hebrew, then I think Mike’s comment is analogous to not being able to read Old English. Am I so sad that I can’t read Beowulf or Chaucer in their original script? Not particularly, and if I cared, I would learn it.

              3. Observer*

                The truth is that cursive signatures are already highly forge-able, and there are other ways to get signatures that are legally binding.

            5. Tinker*

              I particularly love the folks who are seemingly unaware that cursive is not the whole of writing, or that people who have print-based handwriting styles can also write in a way that is fluent, readable, and attractive.

              Or that disability is a thing, for that matter. I’ve seen relatively progressive folks openly make fun of people who don’t handwrite well, and break out the stereotype of the snake person who has to use a computer for everything and who when they write do so laboriously and with less than stellar aesthetic results. Which, if actually realized, is called “dysgraphia” and is a trait that tends to go with some autism spectrum conditions, among other things.

            6. Tau*

              I can kind of understand this one, because in my country we had a shift away from a handwriting script (Sütterlin) several decades before I was born, and you know what? It does bug me that I really struggle to read the letters my grandmother wrote seeing as I never learned the writing style. And I’d say Sütterlin is far closer to cursive than cursive to print.

              Does it bug me enough that I think we should’ve spent time learning it in school? Eh, not so much. But I’d still view it as a fair point to raise.

              1. Myrin*

                I’d say Sütterlin is a special case, though. I did learn to write in cursive – and I’m surprised you apparently didn’t because I thought we’re about the same age? Or am I missing something? What I mean is just ganz normale Schreibschrift – and I specialise in medieval manuscripts so I can quite easily read very old timey stuff (as in, 9th to 16th century) and still the only thing I know about Sütterlin is that the e looks like today’s lowercase n.

                1. Tau*

                  Oh, I learned to write in cursive! Two kinds, even – when we moved back to Germany at eleven, my US-style cursive script was deemed unacceptable and I had to learn German Schreibschrift on top of it. Not the greatest experience, having to do those “now copy these letters over and over” workbooks in sixth grade, but the teachers insisted.

                  However, my grandmother left a lot of letters and postcards and whatnot behind and they’re all in Sütterlin and we didn’t touch on that in school at all, to me it just looks like some weird cross between cursive and the Thai alphabet.

          4. TootsNYC*

            I was just thinking of that today! My mom was a Palmer person.

            In fantasy writer’s Naomi Novick books about the dragon Temeraire, there’s a scene where the captain of the dragon realizes he hasn’t been forcing the ensigns to practice their handwriting. It’s crucial in that era, because in battle, the orders will be written by hand and need to be crystal clear to everyone.

            I was thinking about the handwriting of me, my DH, my kids, and wondering if people would, as grownups, sign up for a Palmer penmanship class. I might!

            1. SL #2*

              +1 for the Temeraire reference (especially that one part, haaaaah)! I finally finished the whole series (I started it back when the 4th book had just come out) and remembered why I loved it so much.

          5. Graflex*

            We should absolutely continue to teach kids how to write in cursive. Not everything that we learn is learned for purely practical purposes. I don’t care the cursive is supposed to be “faster” to write. It’s not just about reading letters from grandma. Sure, being able to read and understand parts of hundred-year-old documents is a good benefit, but it’s not the only benefit. Learning any type of handwriting is good – it reinforces fine motor skills, skills that you might get from drawing, or coloring. . . .or other “fun” things no one has time for anymore. I’d argue that practice is a great way to learn about observation and feedback – you can’t /see/ why 2×3 is not 5, but you can see that what you just wrote is not quite a letter “A” yet. (Students develop the ability to self-asses.) It doesn’t matter if it’s cursive, or normal printing – penmanship is something everyone should learn to some degree. You need it for writing words, and you ESPECIALLY need it for math. If you can’t read what you wrote, you will go nowhere in math. Equations get long and complicated, and the neater you are, the easier it will be. There’s a lot of plain math, and there’s a lot of math in the science disciplines too.

            What do we call our signature?
            We call it our “John Hancock.”
            Why? Because John Hancock signed a (a – not “the”) copy of the Declaration of Independence with a large, slightly flourished, and moderately decorated signature.
            He signed it in a way that was uniquely his, and unmistakable for anyone else.

            That’s important – kids should have a sense of self. There isn’t much that we sign anymore, but some of those signatures are important – marriage documents, your driver’s license, passport, a home loan – they might be somewhat symbolic, but so is a signature. It’s the ability to pick up a stick, and make a mark in the dirt that uniquely belongs to you.

            You could take it a step further and learn some calligraphy – where you learn some neat things, like the lower case “a”, “d”, “g”, all share the same circle part (in some fonts), or that letters all share similar strokes, that are just re-arranged or written in different orders to create different letters. (Or take roman numerals – it’s very hard to carve on a curve – which is why some of their “u”s look like “v”s. Those little serifs (horizontal lines) at the top and bottom of some letters? Those are chisel marks and extra strokes to clean up the beginning and the end of the other parts of the letter.

            It’s not just about reading old letters.

            1. Tinker*

              So, wait, kids should absolutely be taught cursive because it teaches all these important things, but it doesn’t matter if they’re taught cursive specifically because they could learn the same things from printing or drawing or coloring (or learning to play an instrument, or virtually any craft, or virtually any sport, or for that matter video games)? And you need to learn how to write neatly because otherwise you can’t go anywhere in math because equations get long and complicated and markup languages are apparently not a thing anymore and this is an argument for teaching cursive but it can be penmanship in anything (though presumably not cursive, because people do not generally write equations in cursive)?

              I’m trying to be delicate, but none of this actually makes any sense.

              1. Graflex*

                I think that we should keep teaching cursive because it has many interdisciplinary benefits – a bit of art, a bit of history, some fine motor control, etc. It has more value then just “it’s faster to write in cursive,” which is the most frequent reason I’ve heard for learning it. There is overlap with other activities/skills, but part of a good education is exposure to different things – like learning to play a simple instrument (like a recorder.) You learn what sheet music looks like, how you read it based on the position and shape of the notes, etc. etc. No one expects you to be a master musician, just that you can do a basic rendition of “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”

            2. Parenthetically*

              My school teaches only cursive for several reasons, including that it can help to address letter-reversal (since there are no direct mirror letters and the whole word is made in one smooth stroke), and that it fits more naturally with kids’ doodling/scribbling motions.

            3. Tinker*

              Also, I’m going to throw this in because it is continuing to bother me. I know a lot of technologists of various stripes, some of whom have rather crap handwriting. I also know a fair number of people who were miseducated in some way about math at an early age, and who now struggle both with the material and with believing that they are capable of learning it.

              “You will go nowhere in math if you can’t read your own handwriting” is hilarious to me because I know better — in actual fact, handwriting is useful but not necessary, and there are many potential workarounds for people who have problems with that. It’s not so funny when I think of some kid being told that to motivate them to write better and causing them to believe falsely that they actually can’t do math — particularly nowadays, that’s doing them a grave disservice.

      2. Collarbone High*

        I definitely have noticed that my attention span has gone way down in the past decade or so (I’m a Gen Xer). I can’t watch an hourlong drama on TV anymore without needing some distraction, and I can’t wait in line for any length of time without something to read.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Old Sturbridge Village. I love that place. I’d recommend it to anyone. But I remember going there in the 60s and 70s. You stood behind ropes and watched someone do something. Then you asked questions. I liked watching the blacksmith work. Some people were more talkative than others. The talkative ones were better in my mind. The place was not an amusement park, there was no wow and no awe. It was pretty subdued, even to me, even back then. They could have “updated” even back then. I tend to believe that places are “waking up” to realize that they need to up their game, consumers are more savvy and they are less afraid to speak up. In fairness, a lot of these historical places (did and still do) run on a shoe string, not only is money a problem but finding people to work is difficult, too.

        I don’t want to say I was bored there, that is not true. But I knew that it would be a very mellow day with not a lot going on other than walking around. They could have beefed up what they were doing back then. So I don’t believe this has anything to do with any generation, I think that TPTB just realized it lately.

        1. animaniactoo*

          Well, and you also have to remember that part of their mission is to be a working village *as it would have existed in the 1800s*. So within that mission, there’s a limit to how far outside of it they can step and still represent the atmosphere of an 1800s’ village.

        2. Trig*

          This was my reaction too; maybe there’s something to the attention span thing, but even back then the kids would have been more engaged by a more interactive display, they just didn’t know any better so put up with what they were used to. When you see what’s possible in modern museums, it’s hard to feel engaged by just reading a placard and looking at an object behind glass.

  20. Agnodike*

    I’m a Millennial (on the older end of the range) and one of my favourite things to do when someone tries to excuse themselves by saying “Oh, I didn’t mean you – you’re not a typical Millennial” is to point out that, statistically, I AM a typical Millennial. I have a university degree, I’m employed, I live in an urban area, I speak more than one language and, like the majority of Millennials born in the 80s, I’m married and have a child. I’ve found it really helps to reframe the conversation and remind them that the caricature of Millennials everyone loves to complain about doesn’t actually cohere with the statistical reality.

    1. LSP*

      “Oh, I didn’t mean you,” is the calling card of prejudiced thinking. If you’re saying that phrase, you’re probably guilty of it.

      1. fposte*

        Absolutely. It can also be really seductive to be told “You’re not like most [blank],” but we all do everybody a favor if we push back on that.

    2. Bwmn*

      As someone also on the older end, what bothers me more than the “you’re not a typical Millennial” are other old Millennials who deeply insist that they’re not Millennials because they have a university degree, are employed, live in an urban area, are married and have a child.

      At the end of the day the generation markers are about what years you’re born during. It’s helpful for some things, not helpful for others. But it’s not something to rail against from either side.

      1. Agnodike*

        I agree: there are few things more frustrating than people who are making assertions contrary to the facts in order to reinforce their own or someone else’s prejudiced perspective. One can say “I’m not a typical Millennial because I don’t conform to this particular stereotype” until blue in the face, but if, like me, someone was born between 1984 and 2004 and their demographic characteristics are in the majority for people born in that range, they is the very definition of a typical Millennial.

        1. Bwmn*

          Agreed. I mean, in any other kind of conversation no one would ever expect someone born ten or twenty years apart from you to truly have the same experience. But then when you give generational markers and start on these think pieces – it really just seems to be the proverbial sand in the bathing suit that people can’t stop scratching.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Ha! My brother and I are technically of different generations — he’s a middle-of-the-road Xer and I’m on the early end of Millennial.

    3. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      Born in 1980. In some calculations I’m a millennial, in others I’m not. I prefer the Oregon Trail Generation– that weird space between 1976 and 1984 that is neither Gen X nor millennial. We grew up using computers, but not computers as they exist today (monochrome Apple IIes for the win!). We’re among the first to have gotten email, but not until high school/college, and we probably first accessed the internet via a dial-up connection or even through AOL. We still used pay phones and had land lines with corded phones and didn’t get cells until, again, high school/college, and we thought texting was dumb (why would I take the time to type out a message on a 10-key phone when I can just call?). We were early adopters of social media, but most of us were out of college and into our careers before it really took off. The first album we bought might have been on vinyl, cassette, or CD– we are familiar with all three formats, and switched to MP3s when they became popular. We were still taught to double space after a period, and might have even learned to type on an electric typewriter. We moved through video cassettes to DVDs to Blu-Rays to downloading and streaming. We dropped our Blockbuster accounts and got Netflix instead.

      Most of the people “they” refer to as millennials were born or spent most of their childhood in the 90s, and had totally different experiences from those of us born even 5 years earlier. We’re our own little weirdos.

      1. hermit crab*

        And then there are people whose birth years put them firmly in one “generation,” but that wasn’t their experience for whatever reason. I was born in 1986, which certainly makes me a millennial, but 100% of the things you said ring true for my own upbringing, mostly because my family were just “late adopters” when it comes to technology. I used a landline for much of college, and got my first flip-phone the same year as first-gen iPhones were coming out. And that’s just a variation within my immediate middle-class suburban/liberal arts college peer group, let alone all the other millennials out there who had wholly different experiences. Anyway, what I think I’m saying is that these generational stereotypes are just not that relevant, which is something about which I think we all agree. :)

        1. Tau*

          Same birth year, and the majority of that rang true for me too even though my parents actually were relatively early adopters of tech. In the early nineties, CDs, cell phones, internet (dial-up or otherwise), and the like weren’t exactly widespread…

          Which does go to show, as you say, that generational stereotypes aren’t that relevant, and also that generational boundaries are by definition fuzzy things and that trying to find the common features in upbringing in people born within a 20-year span is absurd. Most definitions of Millennial I’ve seen narrowly avoid sorting my brother and his daughter into the same generation!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        It boggles my brain about Boomers. Someone born at the end of the war had a vastly different experience than a child of the 60s. People on the front end of that barely knew anything about pot/dope and did not see much of it in school/peer groups. By the time I went through school it was everywhere. The older group had atomic bomb drills and my group had actual bomb scares but no atomic bomb drills. The older group knew someone who owned a tv and the family decision to purchase a TV was a bfd. Almost everyone in my era had a TV and purchasing a new TV was like buying socks.

        That was the changes in roughly 20 years. Just my opinion but as little as five years in age difference can make a difference in a person’s experiences and perceptions.

      3. Meghan*

        As someone born in 1981, I could not agree with you more. I don’t feel I fit comfortably in either Gen X or Millennial generations. Even friends 8 or 9 years younger have wildly different experiences with technology. I personally use the Nintendo Generation, but Oregon Trail works, too. Think I just got dysentery again.

    4. Mookie*

      Millennials of either decade are less likely to be married and less likely to have children than previous age cohorts.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        But within their own generation, they are likely to be married with at least one child.

        1. Mookie*

          Sorry, I’m feeling dim, how are millennials more likely to be married with a child than other millennials?

          1. Mookie*

            I mean 59% are single and have never been married and 60% do not live in a household with children so being married with a child does not make one “a typical Millennial” at all.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Sorry, I’m saying that millennials in specific age-bands (e.g., mid-30s, early 30s, mid-20s) have different results than the generation as a whole—which makes sense, because the “millennial” label covers a significant time period (anywhere from 16 to 18 years). As a result, millennials often define their averages by their “cohort” within the generation—I think that might be what’s happening, here.

              So even though the current generation is delaying marriage, etc., it’s more likely for a mid-30s millennial to be married with a child, even though that’s not true of a mid-20s millennial (or of the entire cohort if you take them as a bloc). I think you might be relying on the Gallup study that came out last May; although it reported that the generation as a whole is primarily unmarried without children, it also reported, “For 34-year-olds, just over half (56%) are married, and of these, 83% have children.” I think the references in this post are related to the characteristics of that specific age-band (mid-30s) within the generation.

  21. Adlib*

    So interesting that this came up today. I just discovered that two people in my company that I work with on occasion have friended their boss on FB. Knowing this boss as being a toxic person (personal experience but not as my own boss), I can see where she requested them as friends, and rather than deal with her being weird/aggressive about it, they accepted out of fear. Totally different problem, but I found this out today.

    OP, I occasionally have this issue with people in real time. They rant specifically against something I do/believe in/whatever, and then make a point of going “Oh I don’t mean you.” Uh huh. Some people are just inconsiderate/oblivious.

    1. Michele*

      I have noticed that some people think that everyone is out to get them and disagrees with them, except for the person they are talking to.

  22. LSP*

    My favorite response to people disparaging millennials is “We didn’t give participation trophies to ourselves.”

    1. Marche*


      I remember thinking they were junk when I was five, twenty years later that opinion hasn’t changed.

      1. Trig*

        My partner’s mom recently dropped off a whole childhood’s worth of trophies (some for participation and some for “your team won at the sport”.) She couldn’t bring herself to throw them out, be we have no qualms about it. Shows exactly who was concerned about those trophies in the first place!

      2. Morning Glory*

        I know, right? When I was a kid, we got trophies for winning and “participation medals” otherwise. It was immediately a mark of shame to be seen with a loser medal and all the kids hated them.
        It’s beyond me how this has haunted our generation into adulthood as a symbol of entitlement.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I never understood why people didn’t know the participation awards would become “loser medals”. That was such a huge disconnect.

      3. Kyrielle*

        And some places are still doing it. The local kids’ fun run gives out medals to everyone who runs, and even in the *announcements* over the loudspeaker during the event talks about how “every kid is a winner”. Where the kids can hear it. I wonder if they are internally rolling their eyes as hard as I am.

        My kids have brought those medals home and really been happy with them…as items to pull out and use in dress-up play and telling stories. Goodness knows they (rightly) don’t value them for any other reason.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Every adult race my friends participate in gives a participation medal! It’s a huge industry!

          1. Dot Warner*

            True, but adults tend to participate in much longer races. As someone who hates running, I say that anybody who can complete a marathon (or even a half-marathon) deserves a medal!

    2. EngineerInNL*

      I have to ask where did this stereotype even come from? Because I’m pretty much in the middle of the millennial generation, played a lot of sports and never once received a participation trophy, I’m truly baffled about how this myth came about

      1. Michele*

        It is because the people older than you are doing it. Go to any 5k, and everyone gets a medal. The largest age group there is 40-50 years old.

      2. Emi.*

        Maybe you play in better sports leagues than some? I was on the “mini” swim team, and I got a dorky ribbon that said “SWIMMER” or “ALL-STAR” or “PERSONAL BEST” after every heat. After one particular heat, I knew darn well I hadn’t given my personal best effort (which is what I thought that meant) but my mother wouldn’t let me return it.

        1. Mookie*

          I gave my dad, a Boomer, one of those “I Can Dress Myself” ribbons when he came out of hospital a few years ago and gradually became well enough to dress himself without assistance. He cherishes it still and dusts it once a week from its perch in his bedroom.

      3. Temperance*

        I’m 33, and we definitely had participation trophies. I hated them, because there were also bigger, better trophies for the kids who had sports skills. I knew that I sucked, and I wanted to do activities where I could earn a trophy of my own.

      4. Mike C.*

        This was happening to early millenials pretty widely. I still remember parents refusing to keep score as well.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Yeah, I feel like this is more of a late-Gen-X (my generation) thing than a Millenial thing.

        2. Kelly L.*

          Yes, and the kids always know who won, too, even when you don’t keep score. My nephew’s basketball league doesn’t keep score, but they can always tell when they stunk, or didn’t.

          1. Emi.*

            I actually asked my ~7yo brother who had won the tee-ball game. He looked at me like I was an idiot and said “We didn’t win and lose. We learned skills and had fun.” Now he’s 13 and looks upon this sort of shenanigans with the deepest scorn.

        3. Anon for this*

          Yeah, this happened in my elementary school (I was born in 91). We still knew who won/lost because, well, we knew how scores worked, but the adults acted weird about it.

          My elementary school’s principal was really into pop psychology, so if something made the news in the 90s, it was probably tried out on us at some point. This was definitely more about the school administrators and parents participating in trends than it was ever about the kids.

        4. Dot Warner*

          I can’t help wondering if this is more to keep the parents from turning into the sort of uber-competitive wackos who cheer and holler at refs/umps as if it’s the Super Bowl.

      5. CeeCee*

        I wonder this often as well. I am almost 29 and remember going to sports banquets every year and I’d always come home and be upset because the same 2 people always got the trophies every year. We didn’t get trophies for participating — Just the opposite, we had to sit there and watch others get trophies for being the best.

        For the most part it was motivating. If you wanted a trophy, you tried hard. But man, as a 12 year old, the feeling was terrible. Survived though. Went on to be a well, adjusted member of society.

      6. Mazzy*

        They had them well back into the early 80s, maybe even the 70s at my school. Which means people born in the late 60s may have gotten them, though I think it’s a mid genx forward thing in my school. That’s why I never thought of it as a millenial only thing.

    3. KG, Ph.D.*

      Also, as a millennial who did get lots of participation trophies (I’m stunningly bad at sports), I can promise you that we knew EXACTLY what they meant: nothing.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        Yes! It was a souvenir, and sometimes they were vaguely attractive. Nobody complains about adults running a race being given a t-shirt (or at least, nobody credible).

        I would also like to point out that in many cases kids were required to participate in the school sport/field day/whatever. If you’re going to make me participate in a competitive activity which I am manifestly not any good at, you can at least give me a prize for putting up with you.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          During the Kennedy era and beyond there was an emphasis on phys ed. You had to show improvement by the end of the semester.

          The answer to this one was obvious to many.

          Beginning of the semester: Do three push-ups and express major discomfort and major effort the entire time.
          End of semester: Do six push-ups with moderate to low discomfort and effort.
          Get a 100% improvement noted on your gym record.

        2. Brogrammer*

          Participation trophy as a child = “Adults forced me to do something I wasn’t good at so that the kids who were good at it would have someone to beat.”

      2. Mike C.*

        This. We all knew they were garbage and no one wanted them. To get blamed for that later by complete strangers makes it’s all the more obnoxious.

        1. Sas*

          I think that is a generalization. I don’t think people really think there are people that thought the trophies meant something.

    4. Bwmn*

      You know…..growing up, I knew a bunch of Boomers and Gen Xers get various Marathon/Half-Marathon participation medals – and none of them returned or declined those.

      1. Mike C.*

        I saw someone yesterday compare pensions to participation trophies. I thought that was interesting.

        1. Anna*

          I saw that, too, and to me it read a little bit of sour grapes. There’s kind of a difference between being rewarded for dedicating 20+ years of your life to an organization and participating in an activity that may have lasted a few months or even a day.

          1. Natalie*

            It’s more than that. Pensions aren’t rewards. They are part of an employee’s compensation just like a performance bonus. When the employee started working they agreed to meet a certain metric (years of service) in exchange for a certain compensation (the pension).

          2. Mike C.*

            I think it’s more the idea that “you get it for just showing up to work”. It’s certainly not a perfect comparison.

            On the other hand, I think my generation has every right to be angry that all the risk for funding our retirements is shouldered by us. The 401(k) was supposed to be one leg of a three legged stool- the other two legs being Social Security and a pension.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Did they mean it in the sense that pension funds are collapsing and not much is left in their fund, hence it’s a participation award? I have mentioned before about my friend who is watching his pension disappear. The account managers are just frittering it away. He can’t withdraw the money. He may have to return to work. He is in his late 70s.
          I have heard people refer to their paycheck as “my thank you note” meaning they are woefully underpaid. Maybe this is more of that?

      2. LadyKelvin*

        To be fair, I value my participation medals (ok, mostly the tech-shirts) from the half-marathons I have done, but running isn’t a competitive sport unless you are already at the top. My medals say that I have competed with myself for these last 6 months in training and run hundreds of miles, congrats! If you’ve never finished a half-marathon or marathon then you don’t know that those things are earned and deserved. But I didn’t play sports as a kid, so I never got any other participation trophies.

        1. Bwmn*

          I’ve completed two full marathons – but the point of participation trophies for marathons is the exact same thinking for t-ball. The point is to acknowledge commitment and effort. And to be blunt, I feel the same way about my childhood participation medals as I do my marathon participation medals.

          I’ve also happened to play on a college basketball team that won zero games in a season, and while there were no awards given then – it was as much a test of character for showing up and staying committed than anything else I’ve ever done.

          1. Program Manager/Director*

            This is really beautifully put. I don’t think anyone was “ruined” by recognizing these things.

      3. Emi.*

        Finishing a marathon is an accomplishment in a way that being on a baseball team for the summer isn’t.

        1. Bwmn*

          We’re going to agree to disagree on this one.

          My primary point on this however is that the whole “awards for everything” – isn’t just something that Millennial children had. The running “boom” and marathon interest occurred around the 70’s – and with that every 5k, 10k, mini-marathon, half-marathon, marathon, ultra marathon, etc. comes with as much of a prize bag for participation, if not more, than every junior sports league.

          1. Anna*

            If you look at participation trophies and medals as recognition of accomplishing something, rather than how they’ve been used/characterized (we don’t want anyone to feel hurt because they didn’t get one), I think it makes perfect sense to give them out.

          2. Emi.*

            “Prize bags” are about sponsorship, not congratulations. I don’t think I “deserve” some horrible sugar gel for running a long distance. I know that Horrible Sugar Gel, Inc wants to give me some in the hopes that I’ll buy more later.

    5. Anxa*

      This irony wasn’t lost on me as a received an adult coloring book for Christmas. I actually really appreciate it. Unbeknownst to the gifters, I did have a brief affair with mandala drawing while I was trying to work on a good good-night routine to kind of self-treat some anxiety related issues (didn’t have access to a doctor).

      Would I be surprised to hear them comment about Millennials and their coloring books? No. Not at all.

  23. Anonymous Educator*

    She might brush you off with something like, “Oh, I didn’t mean you — you’re different.” But there’s a decent chance that you’ll actually get her to stop and think

    I think you can almost certainly expect an “Oh, but you’re different” response, especially if you do good work. Stereotypes about Millennials almost always come from confirmation bias. The circular logic goes: “If this Millennial does what I think Millennials do, a-ha! I was right! Millennials really are that way. If this other Millennial doesn’t do those things, well, this other Millennial is the exception to the rule.” People who stereotype don’t actually do any real statistical analysis. Everything in anecdotal, of course.

  24. TC*

    I had a supervisor who was like this — we weren’t facebook friends but she used to complain to me about “kids today”. she said some pretty awful things to me, and I remember objecting once, something like, “you know that you could be describing me there,” and she would just say, “oh, I didn’t mean you, you’re not like that.” she genuinely never regarded me as a millennial, despite the fact that i’m the right age and fit a few other stereotypes. she was just obtuse really. we had a pretty good work relationship but she continued to say hurtful things, so I started to avoid her and stopped chit-chatting with her. i was lucky that this was job i worked at during university, so i knew i would be leaving eventually, but it was a shame because i did enjoy working with her.

    1. Program Manager/Director*

      Yep. I work in a position where I connect younger millennials with industry employers. I was born in 1982, so I am by most accounts a millennial. Whenever employers start devolving into that kind of “kids today” nonsense, I ALWAYS begin the conversation disclosing my millennial status. It shuts it down before it begins- go ahead, call me “entitled” to my face…

  25. FDCA In Canada*

    I work in an employment centre. One of my coworkers loves to disparage millennials–and me, by extension, being a millennial–saying they don’t really want to work, women are “princesses” and men are “lazy” and we’re all too busy on social media to work anyway. (Which is funny considering that I get more done and complain substantially less than he does!) It drives me insane and this is exactly why I don’t friend him (or a bunch of my other coworkers) on Facebook–I don’t have the patience in my life for this.

    As always, Alison’s advice is correct: bring it up gently if possible, block and ignore while rolling your eyes if not. I find in most cases there’s very little to be solved by bringing stuff up on Facebook–without a live person in front of you it’s much easier to become vitriolic and angry–so I would skip it.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It’s been my observation that the complainers do less work. We have a finite amount of energy, we can burn it up by complaining or by getting work done. We can’t have both.

      1. Mallows*

        NSNR – yes. I’ve been trying for 6 years to find a nice way to say, “Your workload would be less overwhelming if you would just HUSH.” Haven’t found it yet.

  26. PersephoneUnderground*

    Side thought- I suppose I qualify as a Millennial, though I was born in the late 80s so I’m the older edge. I *love* the more useful category I stumbled across that calls late 70s/early 80s babies (and I feel like it should really be expanded) the Oregon Trail Generation. It’s referring to the game, and categorizes based on what technology we’re comfortable with, rather than an odd, arbitrary label ( I think they’re defined as straddling the analog/digital divide specifically, but shorthand is if you played Oregon Trail on Dos as a kid, you count as one of them). We’ll need another for the 90s and 00s babies- maybe “iPad generation”.

    1. Roz*

      Maybe for 90’s kids – the walkman generation. And then the 00’s kids – the ipod generation?

      I kinda miss Gen Y. I was Gen Y until they lumped Y with Millenials and made one giant group.

      1. Liane*

        “Maybe for 90’s kids – the walkman generation.”
        Huh? In the early 80s when I started college, Walkmans and their clones were pretty new.

        This weekend, College Son and I were discussing Generation Names. About to turn 21, he’s one of the younger Millenials. I am at the very end of the Baby Boom by most sources but am more of a Gen X in many ways. He says he considers me a GenX and that he’s often heard them called the parents of the Millenials, a term he prefers to Gen Y.

        1. Anxa*

          I was born in ’86 and I’ve had a walkman (well, knockoff), a discman, and an ipod. Walkman in elementary school. Discman in high school. iPod in college and beyond (it’s starting to die. I am so hoping it keeps kicking. I want my clickwheel).

    2. Oh no, not again*

      Meh, I’d rather not be associated with a problematic game. They could call us the Atari generation (although I grew up playing Intellivision). I’m barely gen X (1980), but I don’t have much in common with the oldest gen xers. I can’t imagine that most old millennials have much in common with the youngest ones, either. Whoever is crapping on millennials, whether boomers or xers need to cut it out.

      1. Bwmn*

        I think at some point Millennial became conflated with Hipster and assorted negative traits that people feel a strong need to rail against. Both Millennials who have a strong repulsion to the term as well as older generations.

        As someone on the very edge of Millennialdom (82) – I’m sure I have more in common with a 1980 Xer than an 89 Millennial – but that’s going to happen with every “generation” category.

    3. Lissa*

      I love that category and name for it! It’s extremely illustrative, to my mind — I remember that game well. Though I now go out of my way not to object to being called a millennial (I’m 33) just because I’d rather not perpetuate the “millenials=bad” thing at all.

      But no matter what generational name is given, somebody is going to have a problem with it…and honestly, as long as people are just using it in a “fun” way I don’t really think it’s terrible. It’s when people try to make it scientific, or genuinely think one group of people is better than another based just on when they were born, that it gets frustrating for me.

    4. Marillenbaum*

      I was born in 1990, but our computer growing up definitely required you to switch to Dos to play Oregon Trail.

  27. help me im bored*

    Thank you, Alison, for not being one of those employers who is obsessed with defining a person born within an arbitrary period of time. There is a woman on my fb timeline who constantly complains about Millennials in the workplace. The best part of it, though, is she is a parent to two Millennials and has freelanced/been supported by her husband’s business ventures here entire life. It makes me want to scream.

  28. Also a millennial*

    I found this blog after the post last summer about the interns who petitioned to change the dress code at their workplace. I was so grateful for Alison’s response and how she didn’t make it about millennials at all. So many other people did and I got really sick of the ‘entitled millennial intern’ stichk. I’m sorry that you have to deal with that from your boss OP. I bet she wouldn’t be so happy if the tables were turned and you were going on about people her age being ‘behind the times’ or insert relevant stereotype here.

  29. Elysian*

    There are some states that actually extend age discrimination to any age, not just over 40. If the OP is in one of those states, would that change the answer about going to HR? I would lean toward yes, but am curious if other people agree.

      1. Gandalf the Nude*

        I assume that answer would change if the OP got the sense it was actually impacting her work? Reporting the articles and commentary would look like an overreaction (and likely feed the confirmation bias), but if OP were being denied opportunities solely based on the boss’ preconceived notions about millennials, that would be worth speaking up about I would think.

  30. animaniactoo*

    I disagree slightly that this is not an issue to raise with HR, ONLY because the company culture is to “friend” everyone else in the company on FB. So to that extent, FB has become another channel of company communication, and if it would be inappropriate from a company perspective for boss to be sending all of these through company e-mail, it’s inappropriate for boss to be posting them on FB in full view of all employees. At the very least, boss needs to limit the audience when posting such things.

    Yes, LW can (and has) blocked (LW, did you block or “unfollow”?) the view, but if company culture is going to encourage the FB friendships, business type things (perspectives) on FB become a subject for HR as a question of business and co-worker etiquette. This is a niggling thing, but it’s precisely at this point that addressing the niggling thing can prevent (or slow) a future spiral into out-of-control dysfunction.

    1. Lissa*

      Haha, I caught one of my friends complaining about high school students (as a generation) the other day and poked fun at him, since we’ve definitely discussed generational bias towards us before! So it’s not that far off . . (He acknowledged that I was right, I think it’s also just really easy to fall into that trap.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It is a pretty easy trap especially if our elders do it to us. And no one wants to be known as the baby in the family. I keep hoping that one generation will come along and say, “Okay we are done with this crap, we are going to realize that if the next generation fails that is not on them, it is on US. We failed them.”

  31. A.*

    Not that it makes it easier, I think “millennial” is starting to mean “anyone who’s younger than me in my minds’ eye.” My 32-year-old friend was complaining about “millennials” the other day, even though, well…! She really meant “recent and very inexperienced college grad,” and she was really complaining about the learning curve that sometimes comes with that.

    But yeah, letting go of these crazy stereotypes would be good for everyone.

    1. Shawna*

      I agree, I think the term “millennial” is often used to refer to tech/social-media-savvy workplace newbies. I work with college students and recent grads, and we talk about them as “millennials” all the time.

  32. Michele*

    Your manager needs to get with the times. Ringling Bros is blaming 4 year olds for their demise. Millennials are too old to blame now.
    Honestly, as someone firmly in the middle of Gen X, I think that Millennials really get a bad wrap (sp?) and they are being blamed for a lot of society’s problems, like the lack of full-time jobs, that they have inherited. I don’t see any difference in the work ethic between me and people 20 years younger than me. The one thing that I see that is really different is that they constantly run to some sort of authority, like HR, for petty things or things that could be discussed directly. I am in no way saying that people should tolerate discrimination or verbal abuse. But I have noticed that Millennials seem to be far less likely to settle disputes personally and more likely to disagreements as policy matters.

    1. Agnodike*

      If we assume your first premise is true (Millennials are unfairly blamed for problems they’ve inherited) then your second one makes a lot of sense. If you enter your adult life learning that people will blame you based not on your actions but on their perception of you, what you’re really learning is that you don’t have the power to impact situations; only someone who’s already in a position of authority can do that. Or, more simply put: the more times you encounter someone being dismissive of you, the less likely you are to believe that you can effectively resolve a small problem without help.

      1. Michele*

        I don’t think it is because people are more dismissive of them than any other generation has been of the ones that followed. Heck, I remember being happy to turn 30 because maybe now people would start taking me seriously. I think it is because the helicopter trends of their parents. Their parents were much more involved than ours. Things had to be pretty egregious for them to get involved in our disputes. We were raised to be much more free-range, for better or worse.

        I see Millennials going to HR for things that simply aren’t HR issues. For example, I used to have a direct report who was not doing well for a variety of reasons, and our department director was getting tired of her arriving at meetings unprepared as well as not meeting deadlines. He made it clear to her and to me that it was unacceptable. So I sat down with her before and after every meeting to discuss what needed to be done and what our director was looking for. He is someone who puts a lot of stock into how well your work is presented, so I was trying to get her to understand that and put together good presentations. She complained to HR that we were being overly critical and it hurt her feelings. That was her complaint. We hurt her feelings because we didn’t accept that she was unprepared for meetings. She didn’t talk to me or anyone else in the department. It ended up being the final straw and she was fired shortly afterward by our director.
        Every generation has its special snowflakes that expect to be coddled, and I have certainly worked with some older divas, male and female, but I have noticed more of a tendency for younger people to try to run to some sort of authority to back them up.

        1. N.J.*

          The key here would be “younger” people, who are inexperienced in the workplace. “Younger” has described all of us at some point or another. It has nothing to do with Millenials-many young people, across all generational cohorts, can be whiny, over sensitive pains in the ass. This has nothing to do with generational groups–there were shiny special snowflakes 20 years ago and there are today. You are stereotyping a generational cohort based on relatively common behaviors seen in young people in general. It’s called growing up. We all have st least oneehiny entitled thing we have done, regardless of our present age, that could be explained by our youth at the time. Your comments are antithetical to reality.

          Many of the things you are. Omplsining sbout could also be explained based on the general tends and changes in society over time. Western society as a whole has seen a in people are who are much more intrinsically aware of their worth and their rights than in the past, when everyone was taught to shut up and buckle down. This can create a person like the employee you were describing., but it has also propelled our modern approaches to human rights, social justice etc. I would chalk it up to the general foibles of youth, which really just boils down to a lack of experience in the world, and higher awareness of the self, positively or negatively, NOT to stereotypes.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I agree that is what I saw in the story too, someone who is rebelling against the shut up and buckle down mentality. It takes a while to find one’s “voice”, to find the areas where we just work things through and find the areas where we stand and fight for ourselves.
            Granted I was not there and I do not have all the facts so who am I to judge. It sounds like this employee pushed that point.
            I remember starting out in the work world and no one wanted to explain anything. If someone sat with me ONCE I was thrilled to get some insight that I could use as coping tools.

        2. Agnodike*

          I’m sorry you’ve had bad experiences. For what it’s worth, the only time I’ve ever had someone go over my head to HR without talking to me first was a Boomer colleague who didn’t like the way I had performed a task but for whatever reason didn’t see fit to raise it with me. The complaint was so specious that the manager’s recommendation was that my colleague take a communication workshop to learn how better to interact with her coworkers. My Millennial colleagues have had no issue whatsoever approaching me about issues, minor or less-minor, and having courteous and honest discussions about how we can better work together.

          I have somehow managed not to draw the conclusion, based on these experiences, that Boomers are ready to run to HR at the drop of a hat while Millennials are invested in taking personal responsibility for resolving conflicts. I tend to think that generalizing about an entire generation based on experiences at a single workplace would be unwise.

    2. N.J.*

      But see, even just stating that you view characteristic X (in this case running to HR) as a trait of Millenials, you are buying into the idea that Millenials, as a group, have some sort desirable, or in this case, undesirable characteristic. That is still basing you viewpoint and outlook on stereotyping. This is problematic and is why these sorts of things are pervasive. I catch myself doing this some times too, not so much with the traditional generational groups, but with the whole “young people” or “olde people” sort of stereotype nonsense. I have to consciously remind myself not to do this, and I’m a millennial myself!

    3. Rocketship*

      If I may be pedantic for a moment… I think it’s actually “bad rep,” as in bad reputation, as in Joan Jett doesn’t give a damn about?

      As an apology for the pedantry, here is an article in which the word “Millennial” has been taken out of various clickbait headlines and replaced with “43-Year-Old White Men.” For your enjoyment:

      1. fposte*

        That seems plausible, but the colloquialism is actually “bad rap.” As Grammarist says, “A bad rap—otherwise known as a bum rap—is dishonor resulting from false accusations or trumped-up charges….There’s also bad rep (where rep is short for reputation—an abbreviation that dates back centuries), which makes more sense than bad wrap. To have a bad rap is to have a bad rep, but bad rep appears only rarely, and some readers might interpret it as a misspelling of bad rap.

        The rap in bad rap is related to an American sense of the word dating from the late 18th century—namely, a reprimand or a criticism. It’s closely related to the rap in rap sheet, which refers to a list of one’s past criminal offenses.”

    4. TootsNYC*

      (ONLY because you asked: You wrote: “I think that Millennials really get a bad wrap (sp?)”
      The proper spelling/word is “rap”–it’s a synonym for “knock” in the sense, “don’t knock it.” Hope that helps you remember which you want in the future.)

  33. bunniferous*

    In my line of work (real estate) periodically these articles crop up regarding how the different generations see things as it regards purchasing a home. I suspect some of this stuff is balderdash and the rest having to do more with stages of life than generations. There may be some differences but not enough to make these articles more than a stereotypical waste of time and energy…..or am I wrong?

    1. Manders*

      I think real estate is one of those rare fields where generational differences do come into play, but for reasons that are more complicated than “people in this generation think that way.”

      I was born in 1989, so I definitely remember the housing crash. The area I live in now has more than bounced back, but I’m definitely less inclined to think of real estate as a surefire investment.

      I also just don’t make enough to afford a modest house in my area, even though I’m otherwise pretty comfortably middle class. The city I live in has experienced a massive population boom in recent years–it’s just not the same sort of city that it was when many people in previous generations were buying their homes. Plus, a lot of investors overseas are snapping up houses and driving up prices. My generation *in my specific area* has also been delaying kids due to the cost of childcare. Smaller families mean smaller space needs. Also, Millennials’ parents are living longer, racking up more medical debt, and using more of their retirement savings on average, so I don’t know how common it is for my generation to be able to rely on inheritances. And of course, a lot of Millennials also have significant debt already.

      So it’s complicated. All generations want and need housing, and housing markets vary from place to place, but I do think my generation has a lot of unusual baggage when it comes to real estate.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Medical debt is a huge issue that we (society) never talk about. I knew of someone who needed a pill that cost $179k per year. If they took that pill then they also had to take a helper pill that cost $30k per year. Insurance would not cover either med. “Healthy” (misnomer) spouse had to quit their job to take care of sick spouse, so no income. This can happen to anyone at any time. And it is happening more and more.

      2. Anna*

        This is an excellent point. A lot of people don’t look at factors like the economy when they talk about how a generation lives. They just assume “that’s how they do it.” I remember having this conversation about young adults in Spain like…15 years ago. “Oh, young people in Spain stay with their families longer because they’re Spanish and it’s what you do” ignoring that at the time Spain was coming out of a horrible jobs market and a bad economy, so maybe a contributing factor to why people in their 20s and 30s were still at home with their parents was because they couldn’t afford to move out on their own.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I think some of that is generational; we’re shaped by what we live through, and by what we’re surrounded by as kids. And by what is “new and improved” during whatever stages.

      So, people of an older generation might have wanted porches, and people whose lifestyles are influenced by the presence of TV, or the trend of working later hours, or a lessening sense of closeness to your neighbors, etc., might say, “I want a deck instead of a porch.”

      And I think this can happen in many fields and markets.

    3. Graflex*

      I think I fall in the middle of the M-word “generation.” (I hate it, I’m not saying it.)
      I was also born in 1989.
      I can’t speak for the articles – but I believe the trend is real. There isn’t as much emphasis on owning property, or owning a home as there used to be. (I’d say that if you look back historically, the building boom right after WWII was a HUGE driver of the idea of individual home ownership, compared to renting, or the idea of apartments, or multi-family buildings.)

      I would argue that purchasing a home is the second largest financial decision that you will ever make. (I’m pretty certain having a child is the first – since you can’t (legally) sell the child later on down the line. (I would hope you plan on the child being a lifetime commitment.) Joking aside :

      So if we’re talking about the second-largest investment of your life, of course different generations are going to see it differently – because the financial situation differs between generations (and within generations.) Then there are also philosophical differences as well.

      Flat-out, I do not have the money to afford a house anywhere near my area. I can’t afford the down payment, and I couldn’t afford the taxes. I don’t have a job that pays enough right now. But I don’t /want/ a house right now either. I’m single – I could meet someone. I could find a better job. (Because I’m not tied down right now, that job could be anywhere – I’ve considered moving before.) A house is a very concrete investment, that ties up a LOT of my wealth in a single asset that can’t be easily converted.

      So forget being able to afford a house, do I want a house?
      Not really.

      If I was in a relationship, and looking to start a family, I’d probably be approaching this differently. But I’m not – and that’s the generation difference (as opposed to the financial “I can’t afford it” difference.) My generations goals and views of success don’t always include owning a house with a garage and a lawn, having a nice marriage, and 2.5 children, all by age 25. I think the “no kids” part plays in to buy vs. rent in a major way – I would be a lot more picky about a safe, stable long-term home for my child, so I’d be more inclined to buy – where I have total control over safety and security issues, checking for lead paint, a safe yard, etc. etc.

      Having a house does afford some security – but it also involves a lot of work. It needs to be painted, the grass needs to be cut, the snow needs to be shoveled. Those things take time to do myself, or I could pay someone else to do them for me. If I spend my time, there goes my non-work time (which is limited.) If I spend my money, there goes my money (which is also limited.) If I pay someone to do it for me, what’s the practical difference between renting a place instead? What happens if I get the chance (or a job) that involves a lot of travel – now I have an asset that I need to worry about when I go away. What if the heat goes out and the pipes freeze? What if someone breaks in? (There are some very nice condo-style rental complexes near me that are fairly new, would mitigate some of the “going away and pipes freezing” or “random people breaking in” fears) and they come with amenities I might actually use (like a gym or pool.))

      1. Anxa*

        I think it is actually more generational than a lot of other trends.

        First of all there’s the finances. I’ll never be able to rent in my hometown, let alone buy a house there. It’s just not happening. I’ll probably not have kids; they are too expensive and I don’t think I have what it takes to take that leap without a savings account, a good job, etc.

        Student loan debt/any money my mom would have had to help with a house went to my education. Which has been a pretty poor investment, to be honest.

        Moving. So many jobs have an end date, regardless of performance. My bf is academia adjacent and we know by the time we stop moving around every few years, it may not even make sense to buy a house (we will have put so much money into rent at that point).

        Nothing feels permanent or long-term. I haven’t felt any sense of semi-permanence since the mid aughts. My entire adult life has been defined by downward mobility and a lack of a sense of security. That affects people of all generations and doesn’t effect nearly the majority of mine, but some of the events and trends that have influenced my circumstances are timing/culture/generation related.

        1. Physician*

          I agree. I haven’t lived in the same town for more than 4 years since age 18. In fact, my driver’s license still lists my childhood address (where my parents still live) because it’s easier than changing states every few years. This is in part related to the nature of my work, but I have heard similar things from friends in other fields.

          I’m 31 now. While I would really like to own a home and put down roots, build equity, the constant moving just makes that a really bad financial decision, not to mention I can’t afford a down payment. So I keep paying for rent and moving companies every few years. I wonder if this rootlessness is going to have ill effects on society in the near future — communities survive when people are invested in them — but until someone wants to double my salary, I’m not going to be much of a contributor.

  34. Emi.*

    Ugh, those terrible millennials, always on social media complaining about things, no professional norms or boundaries, no sense of…

    1. MashaKasha*

      I can’t believe you beat me to this! Came here to say how ironic it is that someone who strong-armed a subordinate into adding her on Facebook, complains that millennials are obsessed with social media… riiiight.

      I have no advice. I have managers as my FB friends too, that I accepted when they sent me friend requests because I was afraid not to. Just sadly shaking my head here.

  35. Junior Dev*

    Can I rant for a minute on how I hate the “millenials are entitled” stereotype, especially when it comes to work?

    I once posted asking for advice on a different website. Basically my job description was not matching the things I was actually called on to do on a daily basis, the physical layout of the office was such that people (reasonably) assumed my role was different than it was, and when I talked to my boss about it she acknowledged the problem but didn’t want to do anything to address it. I was really stressed out by the uncertainty and by not having the resources I needed to work effectively.

    I got chewed out for being “entitled.” Apparently describing my physical work environment meant I thought I deserved a corner office and being stressed out by an unclear set of responsibilities meant I thought I was too good to pay my dues. Apparently experiencing anxiety in the workplace meant I was a special snowflake.

    I think there’s an intersection of the gross knee-jerk response to any job complaint being “at least you have a job!” and the trope of millenials being entitled. I wish anyone who wants to use the phrase entitled to describe someone’s work expectations would instead say “your expectations are unrealistic”–and then check that the person has actually expressed an expectation and that it is indeed unrealistic.

    1. Temperance*

      What really chaps me about this is that the same people who will crow on and on about “entitled” Millenials will also boast about how they never had a crap job, never had crap duties, etc. Which is it, exactly?

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yep. And here’s one both Gen X and Millennials got:

        All through childhood and adolescence: “You MUST do x, y, and z, or you will be STUCK working in fast food, and you don’t want that, do you?”

        Moment you graduate from college: “What, are you too proud to work fast food?” Often said after the person has actually applied for and failed to get fast food jobs, because during the recession there was a glut of applicants.

        Maybe we shouldn’t use certain types of jobs as a scare tactic to begin with, since our society needs people to do those jobs.

        1. Temperance*

          EXACTLY. I’m from a blue collar background but am a middle class person myself, and the things my parents think about the workforce are hilariously weird and outdated.

          1. Kelly L.*

            There’s a fair bit of snarky “Well, McDonald’s is always hiring!”

            Well, actually, it’s not! Sometimes they have enough people already, some areas have seasonal issues*, some managers might not want to hire someone they think is overqualified, etc.

            *For example, I lived in a college town for a long time, and everybody who stayed in town wanted short-term jobs during the summer, and would flood all the workplaces with applications. But because there were a lot fewer people in town overall, restaurants wanted to cut staff then, not add it.

            1. Anxa*

              They may always be accepting applications, but they most certainly are not hiring anyone and everyone. Also, some of the most difficult application processes I’ve been through have been through fast food and retail.

        2. animaniactoo*

          In 1992, some graduates at MIT stapled their resumes to their caps at graduation. Because they couldn’t find jobs in their fields. Yeah, some of them were working/applying for fast food jobs.

          I don’t know about other years, but I was there for that one and I saw it live and in person.

          And yes on society needs somebody to do those kinds of jobs – beyond that, the *businesses* need somebody to do those kinds of jobs in order to make profit, which (separate rant) means we should really make it worth their while to do it. Not to expect to live in luxury, but certainly to expect to not have to work 2 of those kinds of jobs to afford a crappy place to live.

          1. Anon-e-moose*

            **Not to expect to live in luxury, but certainly to expect to not have to work 2 of those kinds of jobs to afford a crappy place to live.**

            My thoughts exactly. I don’t want a 10,000 square foot house and a BMW. I want to be able to pay my rent and fill my car with only one job (I work 2 now, 1 full time and 1 part time).

          2. Mike C.*

            I found a really great way to explain this to the very dense –

            “Pretend we live in a world where everyone was rational and everyone took your (very dense) advice – work harder, get an education, pick the right field of study, pay tons and tons of dues, never ask for anything more than (the very dense) believe is deserved. That world will still need people who clean toilets, flip burgers, wait tables and so on.

            In that world, how do those workers deserve to be compensated? Remember, they acted rationally and did everything you expected of them. Given that there is always going to be a need for such employees, why shouldn’t they be compensated decently for their labor?”

            1. animaniactoo*

              That’s a good logical progression. I tend to approach it from the opposite end of what the lowest person’s contribution to the overall process is.

              At the end of the day, you can have the tastiest donut in the world, but if you don’t have someone to SERVE your donut, then all the time spent researching the recipe, working the logistics of supply chain, marketing, etc. will mean… nothing. That person’s work may be considered “unskilled” labor, but it is *necessary* labor in order for everything else to produce any profit.

              Therefore, you need to make it worth their while to serve the donut. It doesn’t matter that 10 other people could do the job as well. It matters that somebody is doing it, and thus the job has significant value in the overall process. (This rose out of a debate about minimum wage jobs and “skilled” vs “unskilled” labor, centered around the push for $15/hr for fast food in NYC.)

          3. Alton*

            I think there can be some disconnect about what cost of living really means. When my mom was my age in the 70s, she could afford to buy a small starter home in just her salary as a paralegal. It was modest but perfectly acceptable. Most of my friends need roommates. Even a small apartment in my city would cost half my monthly take-home salary. If I wanted to go cheaper, I could. But the really cheap places have some real horror story reviews. Sorry, but I’ll take living with family and paying a reasonable rent if it means not living in a slum.

            1. animaniactoo*

              Part of this is because the disconnect between average salary and COL has been obscured over time by the different rates of inflation. Some things have gone up significantly, but others remain around the same (or something that is more in line with an expected rate of inflation compared to other costs). It’s really hard to get a handle on how much things cost unless you’re out there looking from the standpoint of moving yourself and seeing what’s actually available for what price.

          4. Not So NewReader*

            For me this ties into the conversation about minimum wage laws. I cringe when I hear “well, a job should pay what the job is worth”. This removes the fact that there is a Human Being doing that job. The human being should not have to live in a cardboard box and wash their uniforms out in gas station sinks.

            Another point for consideration is that not everyone can be CEO. They all can’t even be VPs. There is no room at the top for everyone and there is no room near the top for everyone. There will always be people at the top and people at the bottom, we have no other plan going on.

            I recently read that in the 50s even lower paying jobs would support the basics a person needs. We lost that quite a while ago.

            What we are losing now is our deference towards others. If others around us can be reduced to almost indenture servant status, that means we ourselves can be reduced to this status also. This is a two way street and I think that we need to hang on to this fact.

            1. Michele*

              I think that a lot of companies are top heavy right now and that is a generational thing. The boomers were a huge generation that is just now retiring. They were hired at a time when salaries were comparatively higher (adjusting for inflation) so they tend to make a lot of money. For example, the company that I work for is very top heavy and it makes it difficult for younger people to get promoted–the openings just aren’t there. I suspect that it also drives down starting wages and salaries because there is less money available.

        3. Graflex*

          I also love the number of people who pretty much LIVE on coffee. Not home-brewed – coffee from Dunkin Donuts, or Starbucks. If all of the fast-food workers just up and vanished tomorrow, the world would come to a screeching halt. Paramedics would fall asleep in their ambulances waiting for calls. Co-workers would be too jittery to type, or might start to tell each other how they /actually/ feel. It would be chaos.

          Somehow no one can find an extra 5 or 10 cents a cup to make up the difference to pay people a decent, living wage. (If you figure you sell one coffee every six minutes, 10 cents a cup is an extra dollar per hour.) Nobody would notice the difference.

          1. Michele*

            That is part of the philosophy behind Ben and Jerry’s. Raise the price a little bit and use it to give the employees a decent wage. If the product is good, people won’t mind paying a bit more.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I wish anyone who wants to use the phrase entitled to describe someone’s work expectations would instead say “your expectations are unrealistic”

      Gee, I wonder where we could possibly find an advice columnist–preferably one specializing in work issues–who would address people in this manner?

      Anybody got any ideas?


      1. Junior Dev*

        Yeah, one thing I love about this blog is that Alison generally takes a nonjudgmental tone–and when she does express disapproval of the OP, it comes with an explanation that’s meant to clarify what a better course of action would be, not just tearing someone down for Doing It Wrong.

        1. Junior Dev*

          On an even further tangent: one of my least favorite things about the software engineering industry is how people will treat matters of personal opinion as gospel truth. It can be very confusing and hurtful for newbies to hear on Monday “Vim is best, only idiots use Emacs!” and on Tuesday, “Emacs is best, only morons use Vim!”

          Remember that one letter where the topic had something to do with women not wearing pantyhose to work, and some of the commenters were convinced it was a sign of the End Times? Programmers have opinions like that on EVERYTHING.

          Anyway. In conclusion, maybe don’t treat people who you don’t agree with or understand like they’re the scum of the earth.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This is a way of talking that I have seen in most arenas. I worked retail and had to wear a baseball cap for a team X. I had customers come in and drop the f-bomb in the course of telling me how stupid I was for wearing this hat with the name of this particular team on it.

            It was the only hat in the box that fit my large skull. I don’t watch sports. I was doing what the boss said I had to do.

            We (society) have gotten a little to foot loose and fancy free with calling people stupid and other things.

  36. J*

    THANK YOU! A VP sent out a link about millenials to our management group the other day, and as the only millenial in said group, I was pretty offended.

  37. Oh no, not again*

    LW, it’s OK to set firm boundaries with social media. You can tell people upfront that you don’t friend co-workers and reassure them that it’s nothing personal. You’re allowed separation from work and personal life, even if the culture is pro friending. As long as you’re nice about declining, you should be fine.

  38. TootsNYC*

    What do people think about commenting on one of those next time:

    Or, “If I were having those problems at work, I hope my boss would alert me.”

    Eh, it’s probably better to just ignore.

    1. animaniactoo*

      If you’re going to address it, both of those seem very reactionary/manipulative to me. I think it would be better to do it from a thoughtful standpoint. “As a member of this generation, I tend to find that this stereotype doesn’t actually speak to the typical millennial any more than the more vocal members of the Christian right speak to the views and actions of most Christians. For example, I have several friends who have put in X and are shocked that anyone would think to do Y, and look at such people as “clueless” simply for being clueless rather than for being a millenial. I don’t know anyone who expected Z, my classmates and I were all required to do XY which was actually more strenuous than the requirements that people 10 or 20 years before us had. So being able to do Z was never an option for us. I think we are actually far more typical as millennials than the examples pointed to in this article.”

    2. fposte*

      I think it’s best to ignore, but if you couldn’t resist commenting, those would be the best I’ve seen. They’re ways of saying “This isn’t just a dumb meme, it’s trash-talking people close to you and it has an impact.”

      1. Kyrielle*

        I’d hesitate because the boss could overreact to them, but if you do it, I’d definitely avoid “Ouch!” all by itself.

        That could easily be taken, by a certain kind of person, as “Ouch! That really hit way too close to home!”

        The boss might not be that sort of person, but I wouldn’t take the risk.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          But that is what “Ouch!” would mean. It would mean the commenter got hit by the shot.

  39. me again*

    You need a new job with a new boss. If you like the organization, try to transfer internally, but otherwise, get out of there, ASAP. Your boss is showing really poor judgment that can affect your future career and job opportunities. Very rarely is this type of behavior insulated – it likely affects you in ways you haven’t even thought of. A GOOD BOSS CAN MAKE OR BREAK A CAREER, especially when you are newer to the workforce. You deserve better. Period.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Eh, I think that’s a strong reaction based on the limits of what we know. The boss could otherwise be great and the job could be great. There are so many people who share this kind of article that it’s just not enough to warrant saying she needs to change jobs.

      1. me again*

        If this was a one-time slip-up, I would agree. However, the boss has posted these views *multiple* times and has made comments to the OP herself.

        If the boss was making misogynistic or racist comments, it would be a “go to HR, and find a new manager,” but we are excusing ageist behavior. Why?

        1. Mike C.*

          I’m in the middle here – I would certainly watch out for bad behavior online translating to the workplace, but I don’t think it’s to the point of abandoning all ships yet.

          You do pose an interesting question, but I think the answer relates to the historical harm associated with misogynistic/sexist behavior vs ageist (vs. the young) behavior.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Because of the difference in how those things are perceived, and the need to function in the world as it actually operates, not as we might think it should operate.

          Plus there can be legitimate reasons for treating less experienced people differently, and it can be hard to separate that from age.

        3. Jaguar*

          Personally, I think people should be hesitant to start narcing in any situation. If someone is dropping n-bombs (let alone complaining about kids behaviour) and you aren’t willing to bring it up to them directly, you should recognize the situation as partially a failing in yourself. The idea that a behaviour shouldn’t happen and it’s the authority’s responsibility to stop it has significant authoritarian underpinnings. A well-functioning civil society requires its members to at least take a stab at sorting issues out themselves.

    2. Anna*

      I don’t think a middle-manager at a probably run-of-the-mill company can make or break anything like a career. Many of us have had terrible or wonderful bosses and we are where we are in spite of them, often.

  40. Milton Waddams*

    Unfortunately, it makes good business sense to have employees of different generations alienated from one another, as that makes it less likely that they will unionize or otherwise become political together; I doubt that the “kids these days!” media barrage will stop anytime soon.

    In the old days, the way this was accomplished was through culture; only hire one ethnic group for one department, one ethnic group for another, so that while each department would work as a tightly-knit group, there was less of a chance of them all getting together to do anything on their own. As that is no longer legal, another way to divide-and-conquer had to be cooked up.

    There really isn’t such a thing as a non-partisan news source anymore; everybody is hunting for clicks in a post-Google News world, and that means playing to whatever narrative drives pageviews. Older people especially struggle with this — while there was a focus in school on detecting fake news (gotta avoid that Communist propaganda), the actual newspapers were shoved into their best behavior during the Cold War; there was never a time before or since when papers were less like the tabloids that they started out as and are returning to today. So those fake news detecting skills are probably a little rusty.

    What I mean here is, don’t hate the player, hate the game — your boss has just gotten sucked up into something larger than herself that is hard to avoid.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Since it’s been going on since Plato, I think that’s a fair guess.

        The older generations will be complaining about the young adults as they fight over the mess in the break room as the earth plunges into the sun.

  41. DCompliance*

    That’s what she posts on Facebook??? Thrilling.

    I’d stick to true-blue Millennial selfie.

  42. phedre*

    I find the whole millennial thing so stupid. You can’t generalize a whole generation that spans 25 years! I’m technically a millennial (I’m 34) but I had a very, very different experience growing up than someone who is 25. Social media wasn’t a big thing until I after I graduated college, most people didn’t have cell phones until midway through college, and the internet wasn’t really a thing everyone used until late high school/college. It’s so strange to me to be lumped in with my baby sister who had a cell phone by age 10 and has had Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter since puberty. My childhood and early adulthood was so different than hers!

    I’ve worked with some awful, entitled millennials and some wonderful, dedicated millennials. Just as I’ve worked with horrible Baby Boomers and wonderful Baby Boomers. Generalizations and stereotypes are just that. As another commenter above mentioned – every generation thinks the one after it is lazy, entitled, spoiled, etc. See:

    Depending on how reasonable the letter writer’s boss is, I would just ask. “I saw you posted this article, is there anything I’m doing that you’d like me to be doing differently?”

    1. Milton Waddams*

      In the U.S. at least, the common denominator of Millennials is that they have lived their entire adult lives in a post 9/11 world. That changes the way that generation interacts with things, including technology.

      For instance, the comments section for AskAManager is very Gen-X, in that it revolves around pseudonymity; nobody uses their real name, but they use the same fake name consistently. :-) Much of the Millennial generation polarized into Facebook and Tor — either abandoning anonymity entirely because only suspicious people want to “avoid accountability”, or doubling down because they decided that if they were going to be anonymous they had better remain anonymous. Without a post-9/11 surveillance infrastructure I doubt that there would have been this kinda split in how people interact with the online world.

    2. babblemouth*

      I came here to post the exact same link! I have it bookmarked to send to anyone who complains about millennial, or probably soon Gen Z. There are terrible people in all cohorts. It’s just the context that’s making them look different.
      In a related topic, a terrible video has been going around on Facebook about why millennial are The Worst Generation Ever (including the usual rat about special snowflakes), and if you see it, this is an excellent rebuttal:

    3. I Am Become the Internet, Destroyer of Time*

      Re:your point about horrible people… IMO, the ones who complain most about yout’s tend to have extreme issues of their own. Mostly an addiction to drama and the need to broadcast, *for the 100th time,* that they hate drama and are “genuine” people who “don’t mince words.” I tend to avoid these people like the plague, unless absolutely necessary.

      Coincidentally, there are a lot of people in their late 30s who fit this profile, which is interesting in itself, given that the people they criticize are not that much younger than themselves.

  43. Student*

    I would’ve been tempted to ask the boss if he’d ever worked with people who stereotyped him as a dirty hippie based on his age and generational stereotypes (or gen-x stereotypes if he’s not a boomer; I don’t think there are many useful modern stereotypes for the pre-boomer silent generation).

  44. NW Mossy*

    Some time back, I sat in an all-division meeting where someone got up and talked about how our business needed to connect more with Millennials, and Millennials like/think/do XYZ, and so forth. It was just so spectacularly tone-deaf considering how many people under 35 were in the audience, who are clearing demonstrating their connection by, you know, working here.

    It particularly seemed like lazy thinking, because it tries so hard to extrapolate a whole character/personality out of the single variable of age. The company likes to pride itself on its analytical rigor, and this was just…. not that. At all. It’s gotten to the point where any time someone starts talking about how such-and-so generation wants blah-blah-blah, to me it’s a sign reading “Nonsense Ahead; Awaken When Over.”

  45. LadyCop*

    As a 31 yo Millennial who has seen the most liberal range end at 1994… not 2004… I appreciate Alison trying to stamp out this madness. When I was growing up, all I heard was how pathetic and lazy gen X was…so funny how quickly people forget. As a hard working, Army vet, who never had a damn thing handed to them, I despise all of this age bashing. Especially because so many critics xant even spell Millennial, and are usually the proponents of “safe spaces.”

  46. Lissa*

    I would be so tempted to start posting articles on my own Facebook that take what your manager is saying to task. Because of my Facebook feed I pretty much only ever see funny/snarky responses to millennial-bashing as opposed to bashing itself, and I would really really want to repost some of them! Some are pretty rude and I don’t even necessarily agree with but others are quite spot on. (I don’t suggest posting those anti-boomer memes, for instance . . .)

  47. M-C*

    So sorry you’re being subjected to this kind of ageist crap, OP. I agree (as always) with AAM’s advice. But I ‘d add something to it. Take a moment to go through Boss’ s timeline and save screenshots of these offending posts, especially how frequent they are. Should you ever find yourself in a conflict, you can show them to HR as evidence of prejudice against you. You never know..

    And please, after that don’t just unfollow them, unfriend them. They can’t tell, and you don’t want them seeing your stuff either.

  48. emma2*

    Thank you Alison for standing up for us millennials! Most mainstream career bloggers/advisers on the net have jumped on the bandwagon of disparaging us, along with all the mainstream journalists. I, for one, am overwhelmed that something as illogical as generalizing and entire group of people born in the span of 20 years is taken seriously by so many professionals and mainstream media. Many of the articles don’t even specify whether they are only referring to millennials in the U.S., so they are essentially generalizing an entire age group not counting for the differences that come with being raised in different countries.

  49. FellowMillennial*

    OP , YES. My boss does this, and will tell me stories about her daughter’s perpetual work fight with “The (Expletitve) Millenial.” Sometimes I think she forgets that I too am a millennial and might take offense to her comments. I’ve been waiting for a good time to bring this up directly. So far, I’ve started by reminding her that so-and-so isn’t a problem because of their age, but because of X fact about them. Not working so well yet but I am determined to keep trying. Know that you’re not alone!

  50. Turtle Candle*

    Alison’s last point is so relevant. I baffled someone recently who was going on about millennials by saying, “You know, I’m a millennial.” Oh no, can’t be true, you’re in your thirties! “Yeah, and the cutoff is 1980-1984, depending on who you ask. So I’m well within that range. And I’m in my thirties.”

    IIRC the same exact thing happened with Gen X, where they were perceived as disaffected twentysomethings, what, well into their forties? Nothing new under the sun, I guess.

  51. Grr... Argh!*

    This whole “millennials are terrible” thing can be blamed one a few special snowflakes who think they deserve everything, and the internet that gives them a platform to let everybody know how special they are. The rest are normal people like everybody else.

    I work with many younger people, and they are all very professional, productive workers. They handle big projects for big clients, and there are no complaints. In fact, most of them are much better at this job than me.

  52. ..Kat..*

    I hate this generalizing about people based on their “group.” I was born at the very extreme tail end of baby boomers. I feel I have nothing in common with them, and I don’t like being generalized about. I prefer to treat people as individuals.

  53. Ilovemyjob...Truly!!!!*

    I am selective about who I friend request on Facebook. I recently unfriended a lot of people due to the election and the hate spewed by some. Only one person noticed and was bothered by it enough to message me to ask why I’d unfriended her. I told her why and never got a response. In fact…in the 10+ years I’ve had a facebook account I have friended and unfriended a multitude a people and organizations and only twice has anyone noticed my unfriend/unlike and asked why I did it.

    1. MashaKasha*

      I do an annual FB cleanup. And on occasion, I notice that people I’d added eons ago have unfriended me. The feeling is usually that of relief; one less person I have to worry about when posting and wondering who can see my post and how they will react. I will admit to two exceptions. I got mad at one person because she didn’t just unfriend me, she sent me an email saying that she’d done it “because it felt weird an uncomfortable being friends on facebook”. That felt a bit like a slap in the face! And recently, I had someone I’d just added drop me a month later, he’s a friend of my ex’s, a nice guy, we’ve told each other to feel free to reach out if we need each other’s help… so I’m worried if I posted something that offended him so much, he felt he had to unfriend. Not losing sleep over that, though.

      That said… I’d be terrified to unfriend a manager that I still work for (as opposed to unfriending a former manager, which I’ve done many times). You never know how the manager will take it. Or am I overthinking this?

      1. Ilovemyjob...Truly!!!!*

        I think you’re overthinking it. A few years ago I had a few work people as FB friends. I live in New England and it was a very snowy winter and I made a comment on FB that said “I hate driving in the snow! I wish offices would give snow days like schools do. I’d love a snowday with my kids!”
        A co-worker reported me to my supervisor and told him I was making critical comments about the company. He never saw the comment, just took the person at their word and wrote me up. I unfriended everyone that I worked with the first second I was not on company time. Weeks later someone noticed I had unfriended her and requested me again and I approached her directly before denying her request to talk about what happened and why I wouldn’t accept her request. She was super understanding of it and since she was the type to actually make critical comments she dumped her co-workers too! I’ve made it a goal to keep my work friends at work and not on Facebook. For me, Facebook is for silly cat videos, awful pun pics, and finding out critical news like the score to the football game I’m not watching or the immediate news of a celebrity death.

  54. Snark*

    The irony of Boomers ripping on Millennials for being entitled and self-centered is just too delicious to resist.

    1. Ilovemyjob...Truly!!!!*

      She said the boss was 15-20 years older. It’s more likely the boss is a Gen X-er than a boomer.

  55. casino LF*

    Depending on how old your manager is, they could actually also be a millennial. I thought I was Gen Y but nope, that’s the same thing I guess. Someone 15 years younger than me could be in my age cohort, who knew.

  56. AtomicCowgirl*

    I’m over 50, the people who report to me are from a wide variety of age ranges and walks of life. Sure, it’s easier to relate to people in my own generational group, but the energy and worldview the 20-somethings bring to my crew is welcome. They are the future of my company, I have a great opportunity to teach and to learn from them.

    Your manager limits herself with her prejudice.

  57. Unusual*

    I don’t have Facebook, and my coworkers have told me they have looked for me on there so we could be friends. When I did have Facebook and were friends with my managers/coworkers, I tried to keep my angst about work under wraps. “Don’t post that you drank a bottle of wine because your coworker who is your Facebook friend can report that you came in hungover to HR.” Facebook is not meant to be for your work group. If I were to have Facebook again, it would only be for true friends and family. Also, not everyone agrees with your views, Facebook allows you post your opinions publicly and that can reflect badly on you in a professional setting.

  58. Tara*

    My coworker is a landlord, and in the lease with her tenants, she the landlord is responsible for snow removal. She was out in front of the house shoveling and the tenants walked by on their way to their car. She and my supervisor were talking about how lazy young people are because the tenants wouldn’t stop to help. Apparently, young people should be foolish enough to do free work when a contract specifically has someone else dedicated to take care of it. That’s just how entitled and lazy some people think millennials are. It’s beyond frustrating!

  59. Mmppgh*

    I would say NO generation should be stereotyped. I see an equal amount of hate on social media about out of touch boomers who refuse to retire, who ruined the world, etc. That’s overly simplistic and also shows a lack of understanding of the nuances of a generation. It has to stop. The one benefit of being Gen X is that we are generally forgotten in the current debates. LOL. We certainly took our share of garbage too when we were young. (As did the “hippie” boomers as soneone pointed out above.)

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