3 Cultural Divides Between '80s and '90s Millennials

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Then and Now

Are you “typical” for your generation or are you a “freak?”  Well, now you can find out.

The Pew Research Center has a quiz, “How Millennial are you?” It surveys your beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors and compares them to other Americans who have taken a national survey. Intriguing.


I took this quiz. Although I was born in the late 1980s, I wasn’t very “Millennial.”  The Millennial point spread is from 73-100, with 100 being the “most Millennial” you can be. Below 72 points, you leave the Millennial spread and enter into Gen Xer range.

I received 80 points on my test, putting me on the low end of the Millennial attitude/behavior range. A good friend from college also took this quiz. She received 40 points; putting her in the Gen Xer range (the Gen Xer range is 33-72 points). I know many of my other friends would either be on the low-end of the Millennial scale or a Gen Xer.

Honestly, I’m not surprised.  I’ve noticed that there isn’t just a difference between generations, but also within them. Sometimes, I look around at my generational peers and think “who are these people?”


I went back to my alma mater last spring to see some younger college friends before they graduated. As soon as I walked into their apartment, I felt like I was an alien on another planet. This was probably how my parents felt when I came home using new slang words. Why did I feel out of place?  What had I missed? Actually, nothing.  I was just an older Millennial and I didn’t completely understand my younger peers’ priorities.

I’ve seen a stark contrast pop up between some of the earlier and later-born Milennials. When I say “early-born,” I mean those born in the 1980s and early 1990s—essentially, those 22 years and older. The “later-born Millennials” are those from the Mid-1990s into the early 2000s.


Here are some differences that I have observed:

1. ’90s Millennials Are Glued To A Device.

As I was saying, I traveled back to my alma mater to see some friends before they graduated. These girls were 2-3 years younger than me. I made my way to their apartment and found four of them lounging around their living room. These were some of my favorite freshman and sophomore friends (from when I was a senior) and I hadn’t seen some of them in a few years. Yes, I was here!  Shouldn’t there be a group hug?!

Nothing. I barely got a glance when I walked into the apartment. What where they all doing? They were all on their phones.  ALL of them.

Note: I admit that I take my cell phone everywhere, but when you don’t have a land-line that has multiple handsets all over the house, it’s easy to miss a call — and I hate missing calls! However, I try not to text when I’m having a conversation with friends and I try to be engaged with the people I’m with in the real world.

Apparently, not this group.

I sat there in a chair, awkwardly trying to coax something out of them, but they continued to mess around with their smartphone applications.

Had they forgotten how to interact with others?


2. ’90s Millennials Have an Inability to Speak Properly.

To continue my description of this tragedy, I got a text from one of these girls while I was sitting in the room. I WAS IN THE SAME ROOM. To make matters worse, I could hardly decipher its contents.

Is real English dying? Was my half of the Millennial generation the last group to use full words—and real words? Don’t get me wrong, ik all abt shorthand lol, but it isn’t an excuse to lose your ability to spell and speak.


LOL=Laugh out Loud. How many young Millennials would you guess would struggle to actually spell “laugh” correctly?  Probably a few.  I’m sure some don’t know that “out loud” is two words…  Some kids are unable to spell simple words correctly because they think shorthand, smartphone words are real words. When I text my friends (older Millennials), it is always in complete sentences—throw in a smiley face or two.  When I text people younger than me, I usually have to read their reply message multiple times before I can decipher what they are even saying.  For example, “idk abt u but im gun get up erly n go in 2 wrk.”



One of social media’s biggest “selfie” offenders…Justin Bieber.

3. ’90s Millennials Are More Obsessed with self-promotion.

Posted by MillennialGirl10

Caption: “Not wearing make-up today!”   *4 consecutive pictures of their face*

In addition to being glued to their phones, these girls were quite engaged with taking pictures of themselves making faces and then sending it to others via SnapChat. (Note: I don’t use SnapChat and I have no idea how it works.) What I do know is that this social media platform isn’t the only site they are posting on…

Have you looked at Facebook or Instagram lately? It’s like walking into the National Portrait Gallery—pictures people have taken of themselves, EVERYWHERE. Flip through Jane Doe’s account on Instagram and every single picture is of her, holding her phone in a bathroom mirror. These are called “selfies.”


Most of these Jane Does are in their late teens, going through their “I-must-document-everything-I-do-and-everything-I-wear- phase.” I know that some older Millennials do this—but posting to social medial seems to be more popular with the younger Millennials. I think half of the Instagram accounts that pop up are young girls posting pictures of themselves.  I don’t care what you do with your phone/camera, but there is zero need to post 10 pictures of yourself, and what you’re wearing, online.  Some argue that posting to social media is a way to stay connected with others.  I’m not sure how galleries of vain, self-portraits foster connection.  I think it’s just vain—and it seems to be a hobby for many of the younger Millennials whose first phone was an iPhone.

I wish I could take a screen shot of the ridiculous self-promotion I see on Facebook and Instagram—but it would probably land me a lawsuit for “breach of privacy.”  In my defense, you put them all online…



Now, I don’t mean to completely harp on my friends (they’re great people)–but I was honestly completely struck by how awkward my encounter was with them.  At first I thought I was just “old” and out of the college loop. (It took them 15 minutes to put their phones down and engage with me.)

However, subsequent meetings with younger friends made the contrast between older Millennials and younger Millennials more apparent — which lead to my hypothesis that younger Millennials are very different from their older, generational peers. Some of these differences, like those I have outlined, are not very positive. I think some of the negative behaviors exhibited by the younger Millennials have fed our generation’s negative reputation… that we are are obsessed with technology, ourselves, and should be called the  “me-me-me” generation. To be fair, not all younger Millennials are bad — and not all of their differences from their older, generational peers are negative. However, I think people should note the differences between the older and younger Millennials. The older are embarrassed and tired of the stereotypes directed at them, thanks to the behavior of thousands of attention-seeking teenagers who were born later in the generation.


In short, not all Millennials are created equal. Therefore, before you judge us as a group, you should take a closer look at the parts.


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