Most millennials don't actually think of themselves as millennials.
A newly released Pew Research Center report finds that, while most Gen X- and baby boomer-aged Americans identify with their generation's label, just 40 percent of those ages 18-34 think of themselves as millennials. And even among self-described millennials, just 8 percent said that label applies to them "very well."
Perhaps it's not surprising young Americans don't want to identify as millennials: After years of being told that they're "lazy, entitled narcissists," "the most high maintenance workforce in the history of the world" and just generally hateable, they seem to have internalized the message.
While a majority of boomers and members of the Silent Generation described themselves as patriotic, responsible, hardworking and self-reliant, the only thing a majority of millennial-aged adults described themselves as is "self-absorbed."
They're also more likely than members of any other generation to consider their age group wasteful, greedy and cynical.
On the flip side, only about a third of 18- to 34-year-olds consider millennials especially entrepreneurial or tolerant -- words that tend to get bandied about in the more positive genre of millennial trend pieces -- and just 39 percent consider their generation idealistic.
One thing that's not clear from the data is whether millennials' self-loathing is a unique quirk of the generation, or something they're likely to grow out of as they age.
"To be sure, some of these differences may be related more to age and life stage than to the unique characteristics of today’s generations," the authors at Pew note. "Responsibilities tend to increase with age. As a result, it is possible that, in any era, older people would be more likely than younger people to view their generation as 'responsible.' In addition, differences between old and young in such realms as patriotism, religiosity and political activism have been evident for many years."
The data in the Pew report comes from 3,147 adults surveyed online or by mail from March 10 to April 6 through the American Trends Panel, a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults.