friday-rant
Finance

Rant: All the guff about 'money-hating' Millennials

Poor old technology gets the blame for everything. If there is a spot of “moral decline” going, you can bet your life tech will be held accountable. But one area where it is always forced to shoulder responsibility is the “unfathomable” ways of the “younger generation”.  

In fact, I have been to so many meetings, events and roundtables where people trot out the same old stuff about Millennials – with such certainty – that I’ve started to doubt my own mind on the subject. Because sure, while every generation is different, they’re not so very different. Besides, a lot of the stuff people say about the Millennials seems to fly in the face of common sense. And has nothing whatsoever to do with whether they used social media as teenagers.  

To add context, look at the baby boomers. That bunch were labelled as lazy, workshy “drop-outs” back in the day, but history has shown this not to be the case.

And even back then, only the very middle class ones who had enough of a cushioned middle class up-bringing not to be worried about the future had that luxury to “drop-out”. And many that did – Steve Jobs makes a half example here – took their hippy ideals on their own commercial terms. Others from more working class backgrounds just wanted to “drop in”. And did.  

Then we have the definition of Millennial. This is a little bit sketchy to say the least. Sometimes it loosely incorporates between anyone born between 1980 and the year 2000. Sometimes it is limited to anyone in their 20s. But either way it is a pretty enormous time span for tech innovation and its potential impact on an individuals’ childhood.   

But either way, the emphasis of all these “Millennial Portraits” is always solidly urban. Because while a 25-year old in New York or London may not care much about car or property ownership, if you nip out to parts of Kent or semi-rural Massachusetts, these symbols of status are likely to be as important as they ever were before. Of course, big corporations may not care about these Millennials as much as they’re less likely to make their pay-books, but there are still vast quantities of them out there.

Still, the part of all this sage nodding about the “youth of today” that really gets my goat, is the idea that this group doesn’t care about money. Um - this is a bunch of people who emerged from university with more debt than any other generation. Loads of the self-funded ones may not shift that huge debt till they’re in their 40s…

Of course they care about money.  

Sure, some may not care about an overpriced watch and have less desire to chuck down a wedge of cash at a single day in church… but that’s because money is too important to waste. What this means for employers remains to be seen… but it doesn’t make any of the slapped on labels any less wrong.

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