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Sample Descriptive Essay: What’s Up with Millennials?

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If you are working on a research paper on the Millennials generation, you are not alone. Each year, thousands of students have to write similar papers that address generations and their characteristics and demographics. This descriptive essay from Ultius explores millennials and what makes them different.

Defining millennial

So just who are these Millennials that everyone is talking about? The name Millennials describes young people who were born at a particular time. This generation, who are essentially between the ages of 18 and 34, were arguably born between the years 1982 and 2004, according to researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss (Bump). This cohort is similar to previously proclaimed generations, like the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, and Generation X. In fact, Millennials are sometimes also referred to as Generation Y, yet Y is not a technically acceptable term, despite its frequent usage.

Millennials now outnumber the Baby Boomers, who were specifically named because of the huge birth spike that occurred when the Greatest Generation returned from war and began having babies (Raphelson). The Millennials now outnumber the Baby Boomers by 11 million, influenced by immigration into the U. S. and the concurrent aging and death of Baby Boomers. In fact, the largest segment represented in the United States today is the age bracket 22 years old.

Diversity among younger adults

In addition to age characteristics, Millennials are the most diverse generation from a racial perspective (Raphelson). Here is a breakdown of race distribution among the age groups:

  • Baby Boomers are 72 percent Caucasian
  • Generation X is 61 percent white
  • Millennials are composed of 43 percent nonwhites

This makes millennials the largest representation of nonwhites in U. S. history. Unlike the members of the Greatest Generation, Millennials are taking their time before getting married and having children. Despite not getting married, many Millennials, though, are in committed relationships. Of interest is the fact that many Millennials do not even have marriage on their radar, and do not see marriage as a major step in the direction of achieving adulthood (Raphelson). A research company indicates that many Millennials will simply not get married at all.

Overeducated and underemployed

Another expression attributed to the lives of Millennials is that they are considered “overeducated and underemployed” (Raphelson). College educations were not as impactful on achieving the middle-class lifestyle for Baby Boomers as it now is for Millennials. In fact, despite the “overeducated” label, approximately a shocking 66 percent of Millennials do not have a bachelor’s degree at all. This is particularly disturbing since even college educated individuals (like Ultius writers) are finding it very difficult to obtain a job, notwithstanding their education.

Just under 90 percent of those earning minimum wage are 20 years old or more, while 4 out of 10 minimum wage earners are composed of college graduates (Raphelson). The Great Recession took place at the exact time frame that many Millennials were just graduating from college, leaving several millennials jobless. Since the Great Recession stagnated job growth in the U.S., the unemployment statistic for college graduates is 3.8 percent. For those Millennials without a degree, the unemployment rate is over 12 percent, while 22 percent are living below the poverty line (Raphelson).

Bridging the technology gap

Yet what may be the biggest distinction of the Millennials, as compared to other generational groups, is their deep connection to technology, and their all-encompassing ability to utilize it (Barry). Millennials are the driving force behind the mobile device revolution. This cohort did not have to go to the library to do research (so lucky!), and they expect that their work environment should be at least as up to date as things are in their personal lives (like having the ability to take advantage of online essay services like Ultius). As well, Millennials are more entrepreneurial than the prior generations, and as such, revolutionary technology is becoming the status quo in many startup enterprises (Barry).

Also, social media technology is allowing this generation to communicate with their prospective customers directly, through proactive engagement, in a very cost effective and often successful way. Millennials represent a new trend in the concept of teamwork and collaboration, and as the recipients of feedback, feedback, feedback, they are not afraid to give their opinion and expect it to be considered part of the mix (Barry). Partially as a result of technology, and consequent to their concomitant diversity, Millennials are more globally connected than ever before.

Diversity and internationality seem to be preferences when compared to former generations. There also seems to be a delightful level of confidence, that things will unquestionably get better soon. Whether an amazing uplifting attitude or a false sense of security, the generation seems imbued with confidence for a bright future (Barry). Where confidence abounds, so does the expectation of instant gratification (Alsop). Former generations worked their way up the totem pole, Millennials often do not want to “pay their dues,” and either want to create a new totem pole, burn the totem pole, or sit at the top of the pole immediately (Alsop).

Lack of memory in millennials

As a result of the time frame of their birth, there are many funny things that Millennials may not remember like those from previous generations. For example, the first cell phone (the mobile phone either permanently attached to their ear or affixed to their hands) came out in 1973, they were almost the size of a small suitcase, and before cells became commercially viable, you had to find a public pay phone on the street corner to make a phone call if you were out and about, or were in distress (Alsop).

The contents of DVDs, CDs and USBs were previously placed on tape reels, which traveled from one large reel to the other in major technology-based business environments. Since there was no email or text messaging for communication between friends and business associates, communication was not impeded by technology. You had to write a physical letter and place it in the mail, or call people on the phone. In fact, at one point there were no personal computers at all.

Changing technology

Millennials probably also do not know that if you wanted to listen to music, instead of carrying an iPod Nano, you carried a boom box on the side of your neck and probably developed a crick for the next three weeks, along with limited hearing capacity. When the Internet became commercially popular, you had to dial up the connection using your home phone, and AOL sent startup CDs almost once a month to get you or your neighbor to get signed up on their plan. In order to book a flight by plane, you had to call the airline over the phone.

Further reading. Must-have technology for college students.

When the airlines finally allowed Internet booking, and you booked your airline ticket online, you might not actually be able to use the ticket, because the airline might not recognize it when you arrived at the airport. There was once such a thing as the Encyclopedia Britannica, an expensive set of 32 hardbound books that a door to door salesmen often sold to your family, somewhat similar to Google in multi-volume book format. You had to send the film from your camera to a developing center, hopefully, the pictures you took were appropriate because you were not the only one looking at them. Speaking of pictures and cameras - no one knew what a selfie was.

Millennials and the simplified life

Everyone owned an address book made out of paper – some were black – thus the term little black book. If you did not have an actual address book, you memorized your friends’ phone numbers! Similar to the address book, if you wanted to remember something, you carried a tiny notebook, the predecessor of the Apple iPod device "Reminder" and "Notes" section today. Every home actually received a white pages and a yellow pages book with several million phone numbers in it. The phone book weighed at least five pounds or more. TVs did not fast forward, so unless you got up to get something to eat, you were stuck watching at least 3 minutes of commercials (if you weren't busy writing or buying an essay).

If there was an amazing concert that you wanted to attend, you had to camp out, possibly overnight in a sleeping bag or lawn chair, waiting on line, this as opposed to Ticketmaster. There once was a big blue and yellow store called Blockbuster that had lots of VHS tapes of movies you could rent or buy, Netflix essentially singlehandedly shut this national company down. Prior to the Internet, where you can search for books and information online, you had to go to the library and use the Dewey Decimal System, in what was effectively a big wooden file cabinet to help you locate your book. Back in the day, you had to get off the couch to change the channel on your TV set, there were no remote controls. Not to mention cable TV and satellite had yet evolved to higher standards.

You had to buy an album (which at one point was an actual vinyl record album) to listen to one song that you liked, and pay $5.99 or more for 24 songs that you often did not want to hear. TV sets had antennas or bunny ears ;so that you could have better reception, and calculators were actual devices that had buttons. If you dared to try to find love in alternative ways, meaning not at work or down the street, you placed an ad in the personals section of the newspaper (clearly stigma-worthy) or signed up with a matrimonial, dating agency or matchmaker, rather than signing up with eHarmony or Match.com. Funny to think about, at least for some.

Millennials and news sources

There has been some speculation that Millennials are not as interested in the news as other generations (“How Millennials”). The concern stems from observations that this generation does not visit news sites, watch news programs on TV or buy newspapers at the same rate as their predecessors. Social media impacted society by offering news through community exchange. Now millennials seem to be consumed with social networks on mobile devices, and may not be developing an appropriate level of interest in the world we live in.

Yet a new study conducted by the Media Insight Project, a joint venture between the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute, which studies how people learn about information, shows that Millennials are very interested in the news, are proactive about it and are quite civic minded (“How Millennials”). Their methodology may be somewhat different than that of Baby Boomers or Generation Xers, due to technological advances, but their interest is quite intense and consistent.

News and information are woven into an often continuous but mindful way that Millennials connect to the world generally, which mixes news with social connection, problem-solving, social action, and entertainment. Rather than having a narrowing effect on what Millennials know about, however, the data suggest this form of discovery may widen awareness. (“How Millennials”)

The study indicates that Millennials consume a blend of hard news, lifestyle and practical news (“How Millennials”). In fact, this generation may be aware of more news than prior generations because they are constantly receiving shared information from their friends and associates, which puts them in touch with information and concepts that they might not have investigated had there not been social proof, placing the subject into context for them. As well, since there are so many of their associates ultimately involved in the conversation, they are often persuaded to research opinions other than their own to get a better perspective (“How Millennials”).

Many Millennials get their daily dose of news from Facebook since they spend so much time on the network (Mitchell, Gottfried and Matsa). The profile of the news consumers, as you may have imagined, has been labeled according to their approach to the news (Velencia). There are the Unattached, representing about 34 percent, usually the younger Millennials, the Distracted, 27 percent, often the older Millennial with families, the Explorers, 16 percent, the younger group, and the Activists, 23 percent, usually older with established careers (Velencia). For some reason, the following statement seems quite expected and so approps – Millennials do not like being called Millennials! Now how did we know that?

Works Cited

Alsop, Ronald. "Excerpt from 'Gotta Have It Now, Right Now.'" Notra Dame Magazine. The Trophy Kids.com. Winter 2011 -2112. Web. 21 May 2016. http://www.thetrophykids.com/articles/have_it_now.html.

Barry, Lisa. "10 Truths Characterizing Millennials In The Channel." CRN. The Channel Company. 13 September 2013. Web. 21 May 2016. http://www.crn.com/slide-shows/channel-programs/240161277/10-truths-characterizing-millennials-in-the-channel.htm.

Bump, Philip. "Here Is When Each Generation Begins and Ends, According to Facts." The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group. 25 March 2014. Web. 21 May 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/03/here-is-when-each-generation-begins-and-ends-according-to-facts/359589/.

"How Millennials Get News: Inside the habits of America’s first digital generation." American Press Institute. 16 March 2015. Web. 21 May 2016. https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/reports/survey-research/millennials-news/.

Mitchell, Amy, Gottfried, Jeffrey and Matsa, Katerina Eva. "Millennials and Political News." Journalism.org. Pew Research Center. 1 June 2015. Web. 21 May 2016. http://www.journalism.org/2015/06/01/millennials-political-news/.

Raphelson, Samantha. "Amid The Stereotypes, Some Facts About Millennials." NPR. 18 November 2014. Web. 21 May 2016. http://www.npr.org/2014/11/18/354196302/amid-the-stereotypes-some-facts-about-millennials.

Velencia, Janie. "Millennials Are Consuming More News Than You Might Think."Huffington Post. TheHuffintonPost.com Inc. 29 September 2015. Web. 21 May 2016. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/millennials-news-consumption-types_us_56099f79e4b0768126fea7ad.

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Ultius, Inc. "Sample Descriptive Essay: What’s Up with Millennials?." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. Ultius Blog, 02 Jun. 2016. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/sample-descriptive-essay-what-s-up-with-millennials.html

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Ultius, Inc. (2016, June 02). Sample Descriptive Essay: What’s Up with Millennials?. Retrieved from Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services, https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/sample-descriptive-essay-what-s-up-with-millennials.html

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Ultius, Inc. "Sample Descriptive Essay: What’s Up with Millennials?." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. June 02, 2016. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/sample-descriptive-essay-what-s-up-with-millennials.html.

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Ultius, Inc. "Sample Descriptive Essay: What’s Up with Millennials?." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. June 02, 2016. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/sample-descriptive-essay-what-s-up-with-millennials.html.

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