Yesterday I dusted off my subscriptions to Time. "The Angelina Effect," "Home Insecurity" and finally the one I was looking for.
"The Me Me Me Generation."
It's been nineteen months since the cover backhandedly heralded millennials. The sub-header read: "Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents -- Why they'll save us all."
The piece first highlighted our staggeringly high cases of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It explained that we got an award just for showing up, and our parents treated us like rockstars and princesses. Stein showed evidence that digital-dopamine has decreased our empathy and creativity.
After beating us down, the article took a turn. Stein called us optimists, and cited how we crave new life experiences.Thus began the millennial revolution. Analyzing Google trends, searches on "millennials" have only continued to grow since the feature.
Coverage on the once untitled generation was now ubiquitous. While "millennial" became a buzzword that elicited a guaranteed reaction from any audience, a reclamation of sorts also began.
Personally, I've spent some time exploring what it means to be a millennial. One of the poignant moments in my 'quest' was the Wisdom 2.0: Next Generation in New York. The day-conference was a millennial only event that focused on finding purpose and meaning in life. Speakers included HuffPost's own Jessica Kane, artist/designer Elle Luna and "The Quarter-Life Breakthrough Author" Adam 'Smiley' Poswolsky. After hearing from some of the most inspiring millennials in the country, it had me think about how far we have come in less than two years.
For Budweiser to kill the Clydesdale, we have to be making a splash. In all seriousness, they didn't kill the horse, but they are shifting to a millennial-friendly ad campaign as craft-beers and PBR reign over the "King of Beers."
The decisions to not indict in the trials of Michael Brown and Eric Garner became international headlines. Hardest hit perhaps were millennials. A group that grew up in a more progressive America, where segregation and the inability to vote were unfortunate pieces of our history, not of our reality. We've been described as a passionate generation and that became even more true in recent weeks. As MTV described the leaders of recent marches and protests "They may picture Dr. Martin Luther King. But this is 2014 -- not 1965. Protests and events are organized online. Hashtags are created and utilized by anyone with a Twitter account."
Emerald Snipes-Garner fought against the grief of her father's death, while Synead Nichols, Mary-Pat Hector, Sabaah Jordan and Dante Barry joined the voice of unrest. It was these young leaders that organized tens of thousands in marches across the country in honor of those who had fallen due to a system that doesn't work for them. If this is what entitlement looks like, we need more of it.
The millennials haven't taken over yet. In this year's midterms only 21.3 percent of millennials turned out to vote despite the best efforts of Lil' Jon. This is clearly an area where much work still needs to be done. Despite the low turnout, Millennials are jumping into political leadership with a surprising 86 percent win rate for young progressive candidates. Some of the youngest candidate's ever ran in elections this year, which has only paved the way for future opportunities.
As the younger of us grow into twenty-somethings finding their career watering hole, the true characteristics of the generation are still being defined.
Nineteen months ago it was all about us. Nineteen months ago we were lazy and entitled. Nineteen months ago we didn't want to work for anything. This month, a million marched.
Here's to 2015.