Today is my birthday. I was born on September 5, 1983. According to the kind of people who get to make the rules on these kind of things, that makes me a millennial. It is near impossible to read anything about our culture today without reading about the millennials, who they are, what they do, how they work, etc. The exact date where millennial births begin is debated, but it is universally put in the early 1980s, ending sometime in the late 90s, or even as late as the early 2000s. This means that among my generation I am one of the oldest members. As I turn the unremarkable age of 31, this is something I feel more and more.
It is not that I am old, or that I feel old. I feel like someone in their early 30s. It’s notable that the median age of all people on earth is somewhere around 30, meaning that for the first time I actually am older than a majority of people on earth. But the rise of millennial culture makes me feel it. I feel disconnected from the generation I am supposedly a part of. This is likely a problem for everyone born on the edges of a particular group.
There are so many things I remember first hand that most millennials would not, or were not even born for. I distinctly remember news coverage of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. I was too young to truly understand these events, but I knew even then that they were important.
When I was born, the world was on the brink of nuclear destruction at the hands of rival superpowers. We were sending weapons to religious fighters in Asia to help defeat the Soviet Union. AIDS had just gotten its name. The world wide web did not exist. I have used typewriters, rotary phones, and televisions without remote controls – for real, not as some kind of phony nostalgia. Millennials are not supposed to even know what these are, but at one point these things were in my life.
I did not have a computer in the house until I was a teenager, and did not have an internet connection until even later. I didn’t have a cell phone until just before I left for college! I am not a chord cutter, and I don’t spend a lot of time on social networks.
Millennials are supposed to not care about a career, instead moving job to job. I have been at the same job for 8 years and am very proud of what I have accomplished. Millennials supposedly crave validation and have a need to be loved. Maybe this was me at one point, but no longer. I like when others like me of course, but I have long let go of the need to always be liked. That’s not the world.
I have never used Snapchat or Grindr. It’s not a Luddite thing, but more that I am past the point in my life where either of these services are useful to me. Maybe its a sign of things to come, and despite my best efforts I may end up falling behind the technology that the kids are using. But again, I don’t care. I have no need.
I am happily married, happily employed, and living the life I want to live. I don’t have children, and probably will not. If we were, it would only be once we are 100% sure that is what we wanted. Too many of the pains of the world can be traced back to parents who were 99% sure.
After 31 years in this life, I am happy with where I am, and with who I am. So maybe there is some millennial in me after all.
- Weapons that were eventually turned back on us ↩