Sign of the Times


Millennials Rising: The Next Generation

By: Neil Howe

Neil Howe, an economist and demographer, is a best-selling author addressing generations’ progressions. He co-authored with William Strauss on Millennials Rising. Strauss, a historian, passed away in 2007 from cancer. He accomplished several books with Howe.

Millenials: An Age of Abundance and All

By: Althea Degala

Our generation isn’t all about sex, drugs, and violence. It’s about technology, discovery, and coming together as a nation.”1 In Millennials Rising: The Next Generation by Neil Howe and William Strauss, the authors express an optimistic perspective on the rise of the Millennial Generation and how culture, demographics, economy, and community intricately affect the teens of this generation and how they will progress successfully in the future. The advancements in these categories are the differences between the Baby Boomer Generation and Generation X (Gen X) compared to the Millennial Generation. Millennials Rising summarizes the growth of generations in the 1960’s to 1980’s and then discusses the 2000’s and how this young generation has exceeded their skillsets by utilizing the current advancement of technology, despite the outlook and prejudice of the older generations.

Compared to Gen X, the Millennial Generation has been a new and improved generation due to the digital age and ambitious mindset the Millennials have. According to Howe and Strauss, the Millennial Generation is the “powerhouse Generation, full of technology planners, community shapers, institution builders, and world leaders, perhaps destined to dominate the twenty-first century…”2 In the book, they claimed that the Millennial Generation is considered a vast improvement from the 80’s,—a time centered around Aids, Crack, Punk, and Rap.3 The first chapter discusses millennial babies and how the popularity of parenthood between the twenties to thirties. Millennial Babies caused a rise in demographic population increased near the end of the 1990’s and into the 2000’s, resulting the Millennial period to be much longer than expected. This means that the Millennial time period has extended into the late 2000’s. Despite such a large population of the millennial children, the older generations expected little from them. Because of the progressive downhill spiral amongst the youth for the past two decades, the adult generations look at the newer generation as an “obstacle that derives from straight-line of thinking, from a near-universal consensus that, since the last two generations have defined a negative youth trend, the next American generation must necessarily follow in that path.”4 The older generation led the millennial generation to strive forward in order to prove such accusations wrong. Every generation formulates its own persona pertaining family life, race, sexuality, and other controversial topics. The millennials are no exception.

As a result of group learning, Millennials are overachieving, confident, and team-oriented group learning and high levels of optimism and trust. Generation X did not value achievement as seen through the technological advances during the Millennial period. In this new generation, technology has advanced as well which expressed exponential growth amongst the Millennial Generation and the economy. Innovations such as cable TVs, microwaves, and the Internet shaped the Millennial Generation and provided the advantage of progressing American commerce and economic opportunities available to them.6 The first quarter of the book continues to explain the protective layer of the millennium period and how economic improvements contribute to growth evident in the younger generation. This layer shows that previous generations did not address child care. Child care was crucial because it led to the rise of security amongst parents in the Millennial Generation and how parents paid more attention to their children’s actions. Despite the “supportive communities by thoughtful, attentive parents, the larger fact is that the whole drift in [the] society, [the] government policies, and [the] private adult choices is towards blighting the youngsters and stunting their potential.”7 In other words, progression requires a balance of support and acceptance of the possibilities of improvements as well as the limits to it.

In the second quarter of this book, Howe and Strauss recognized how social connections changed the millennium period. Pertaining to family, school, pacing of daily life, the conduct of the youth and community during this era, many families struggled to understand new movements such as sexual freedom, divorce-epidemic, and feminism. Despite this, families were still able to preserve personal family values. Such values were found from books and religion.8 Aside from progression in familial values, school life also strove to advance the millennial youth. Academic Standardization during this era increased due to the development of multiple choice tests and educational plans formulated by the federal government. As a result of these educational improvements, the number of high achieving high school students continue to increase and these results may contribute to furthering education. Pacing in life was an important habit amongst the Millennials. This increased pace of life demands an immense amount of pressure amongst young adults in the Millennial Generation. Pacing life is a form of time management, allowing the generation to keep up with personal expectations and challenging them to pursue further towards success. With the immense personal, peer, and parental pressure, it was simpler for the younger generation to befriend their parents than to “love” them, forming an indirect relationship. This indirect relationship leaned on an apathetic attitude towards personal relationship, without affection. Conduct and community contributed to making up the Millennial Generation. The Internet exposed millennials to online dating, an outlet used as a form of social communication. Aside from online dating, the younger generation was also open minded about sexuality or gender. Community allowed women to become iconic figures which did kept the Millennial Generation from labeling sexuality or gender. These few factors are what delineates the Millennial Generation from previous generations and how they viewed controversial topics. These changes represented progression in values and technology as well as empowerment of the present day youth.

Trends affected the cultures of the millennials. The world itself exemplified the cruciality of the millennials and how its generation trends were globally popular. Although the generations have a tendency of recycling certain values, trends, and cultures, the Millennial Generation was a time of progression and improvements. Music was not much of a popular icon to the culture in the Millennial Generation. Transitioning from rock to rap, the “music industry executives ran focus groups and finally woke up to the fact that they had nothing the teenagers wanted, and nothing the parents would allow them to have.”9 Pop music dominated in the late 80’s which also transitioned into the late 90’s. Aside from music, books such as the Harry Potter series became a popular art trend alongside Pokémon characters and cards. Technology, such as video games, introduced several trendy items and concepts in the Millennial Generation, ushering in a culture of digital age. The advancement of technology also contributed to internet activist whom “targeted global peers.”10 Friendships could be formed all around the world because of the internet, which made the millennial period a timeline of virtual communication and interaction. A type of communication where it was not necessary to meet in person, conserving time and effort. With this technology, society has become more reliable and less chaotic, useful for commerce among other countries and less dangerous for the newer generations.

Because sexuality was an open-minded topic during the Millennial Generation, it has become a hero generation openly expressing the idea of women as leaders.11 Individuals from the Millennial Generation who were considered as “heroes” exemplified the concept of a “long human lifetime: the Glorious, Republican, Progressive, and G.I. Generations.”12 Millennials are known to have been a generation of spiritual awakening. This group of youths are expected to solve issues past generations could not comprehend and surpass. The millennial youth learned how to rely on achievement rather than the cynical perspective of the older generations. This drive to earn trust from older generation and hopes to have a spiritual awakening was what fueled the millennials’ appetite for achievement. The millennial youth progressed and surpassed past generations, despite the generational qualities repeating themselves. With these advancements, the millennial generation is able to amplify opportunities and make the most out of the youth of America.

According to Howe and Strauss, the “Millennials are rising, America needs to think bigger. Test them. Challenge them. Put difficult tasks before them, and have faith that they can do themselves, and their nation, proud.”13 Because the generation is a youthful, inexperienced, and sheltered generation, it is crucial to keep expectations low for the future generations. By keeping expectations low, the older generations are not adding to the personal pressure the millennials have already placed upon themselves. They are able to explore the difficult obstacles of life and because of their great sense of achievement, the older generations must help fuel their need for success. It is the older generation’s responsibility to be open-minded toward the new generation and have faith in their decisions.

As stated in the Afterword chapter addressing short notes from the authors and further citations, Strauss and Howe compared the difference of support Generation X received versus the Millennial Generation. The vast difference was the support provided for both generations by their elders. The millennials received more unconditional support from parents, which Howe and Strauss exemplified themselves throughout their daily lives. Beyond family, they have “both immersed [themselves] in the world of today’s kids.”14 The reasoning behind their purpose for writing such a novel about the Millennial Generation was to formulate their personal answer “to the Generation Y negativity that was seeping into the media and marketing worlds.”15 Aside from writing about the improvements of millennials, they also wrote a book called Generations in 1991 which addressing 1584 to the late future. The purpose of writing such similar genre and ideal books would be to suggest an epicenter of culture wars. This genre expressed their value for children of this day and age. This book was published in 2000, allowing a fresh perspective different from the past twenty to thirty years and also an introduction to the next decade. The book tells readers how to take care of the present day and how these actions will affect the future. This book’s final conclusions pertain to how the Millennial Generation grew up, what kind of environment they grew up in It shows a different perspective of the most common perspective towards the millennials: negativity. The message conveys a retaliation to all the negative comments from past generations and proves that any new generation can be as important or ambitious as others.

In a New York Times article, the book’s purpose and impression is summarized unreliable. Further into the article, it deems the book unreliable due to its broad and generalized outlook. Despite this, the review claims that it is a “good bad book” based on its solid themes. An example of a solid theme is that, “young Americans are pulling back a bit from the excesses of individual freedom and returning to an ethos that values group loyalty.”16 In other words, the book does address the community of the Millennial Generation and how it differentiates from negative authority. On the contrary, according to an article from Publisher’s Weekly, this book is a reliable source that expresses key points of data such as demographics and culture changes. The article also explains the difference between Generation X and the Millennials. According to the content of the article, the book provides crucial points due to its statement of factual data and the concept of strict environment in the Millennial Generation. Such great pressure put on modern children also provides a key insight to how the environment affects the children of this generation. According to Publisher’s Weekly, “Since birth, they have been spurred to achievement in the home, by yuppie parents, and at school, by standardized tests and zero tolerance disciplinary measures.”17 Such perspective from an article expresses the major fact of children’s pressure in this day and age. Evidence of this pressure is incorporated in the expectations of the educational system.

From the perspective of a child born and raised in the late 1900’s to the early 2000’s, I believe it is true children born in the Millennial Generation aim to achieve and be successful human beings. Pride and loss of humbleness has created a monster within each individual, giving them a sense of entitlement. According to the book, the Millennial Generation is one of the greatest generation having structure, faults, and even broad minds. The book voices the optimisms of millennials through sidebar quotes, countering the negative responses of the older generations. Aside from countering, the sidebar quotes focused on what millennials prioritized. It was a means to negate the negative influence of elders. With this being said, this book also utilizes different means to convey factual evidence such as charts and graphics. On one hand, the book lacks in specific examples of what the millennials think of themselves. By not providing specific examples, the book was seen from one perspective. On the other hand, much of the book seemed to be an assumption of how millennials are perceived, should be perceived, and how unimportant they are to past generations. Many adults saw the “[millennials] as wholesome and devoid of cynicism as the generation that wore saddle shoes. They trust their government, admire their parents, and believe it is possible to start out poor and become rich.”18 In other words, what previous generations say about the new ones affect how the younger generations work or think. Words are of great impact to the younger generations, leading them to a path of progress or digress. Because millennials are so ambitious, they have been expected to achieve many great things in the near future. This pressure on the millennials are not just put by others, but by themselves as well in order to prove others wrong and to make the best out of the place they inhabit.

In the beginning of the book, the authors addressed key statements about how this generation of children are more optimistic about the future. Aside from optimism, the millennials have also taken a closer look at their actions and how it will impact their future. The millennials have “rapidly decreased share of worry about violence, sex, or drugs.”19 This lack of worry and increase of optimism provides a fighting spirit of conservatism, shying away from destructive actions. By minimizing destructive actions, the millennial youth are able to discern whether their actions will have positive or negative consequences. They also have a greater sense of morals and values, decreasing crime rates and focusing their attention onto how to improve the current world they live in. This realization during the Millennial Generation uplifts society’s perspective of the youth, expecting them to continue a path towards conservatism. Optimism reverses the negative trends in the 80’s and reset in the Millennial Generation, forming a more heavy conservatism compared to liberalism.

Finally, this book has predetermined expectations for newer generations and based such expectations according to past tragedies. The importance of millennials rising is what makes a generation progress. Putting a wedge on the recycling of negative ongoing actions from generation to generation is what makes progression. The Millennial Generation will extend achievements and success past the twenty first century.

[1] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. Millennials Rising The Next New Generation. 2000. 3.
[2] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 4.
[3] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 17.
[4] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 25.
[5] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 49.
[6] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 97.
[7] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 123.
[8] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 239.
[9] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 301.
[10] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 327.
[11] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 327.
[12] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 367.
[13] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 370.
[14] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 371.
[15] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 423.
[16] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 548.
[17] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 24.
[18] Howe&Strauss, Neil&William. 7.
[19] American Program Bureau. Neil Howe Authority on Generations in America. City published: American Program Bureau, 2016. Page.