Why You Should Start Taking Millennials Seriously There are more millennials in the U.S. than there are baby boomers. Why do they get so many eye rolls?

Why You Should Start Taking Millennials Seriously

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Today, in America, there are more millennials than baby boomers. Seventy-six million boomers - and their impact on society has been clear. But when we talk about the 80 million millennials, it's a different story. In fact, this demographic is often chided by older generations. Take, for example, this video from Time magazine by commentator Joel Stein called "A Day In The Life Of The Millennial."


JOEL STEIN: I put on a millenial T-shirt, and I'm going to get right to trying to send 30 texts in one day.

INSKEEP: Yeah, that's the sattire. NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffin is here to say, there is no such thing as a millennial T-shirt. She's a millennial, born between 1980 and 2000. And she's one of the millennials from across NPR News leading a new series about this generation we're calling The New Boom.

SELENA SIMMONS-DUFFIN, BYLINE: I'm going to go ahead and guess that if you're not a millennial, you kind of hate us. We seem so lazy, so entitled. We live with our parents. We love our selfies, and we're always talking about ourselves. But here is my case. Millennials have already shaped your life. Let me take you back to 2006.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Tonight, the growing use of the internet as a social meeting place. Tens of millions of young people...

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Millennials aren't simply users of social media. We invented it.


MARK ZUCKERBERG: Hi. I'm Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, an online social directory.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: By now, we are all familiar with this online social directory. Millennials were there first. We picked it out and showed everybody else how to use it. Zuckerberg, along with the inventors Instagram and Tumblr and Snapchat - they're all millennials and all millionaires - oh, except Zuckerberg. He's worth billions. These tools have transformed some of the most important stories in the news.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: ...Easy to find on YouTube - a bystander recording of...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Unintelligible).


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: He said on Twitter that his forces had shot down by a Ukranian military cargo plane.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: ...a tweet. Ambassador Churkin, I'd be honored to go on tour with Pussy Riot.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: We are all living in a millennial world. It's connected, it's open, and it's diverse.

EILEEN PATTEN: Millennials are the most racially diverse generation.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: That Eileen Patten, millennial and analyst at the Pew Research Center.

PATTEN: Forty-three percent of millennials are non-white, and when we looking older generations - boomers and silents - less than three in ten were non-white.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Because millennials look different en masse than generations past, the future is going to look different, too. Millennials have led the country to massive shifts in opinion on social issues over the last decade.

PATTEN: They've led the way in terms of same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization. Majorities favor both. They support granting citizenship to unauthorized immigrants. About half do, compared with lower shares among the older generations.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: As a whole, millennials are progressive and accepting. We are also - against all odds - hopeful. I'm sure you've heard plenty about crippling student debt, high unemployment, failure to launch. And yet...

PATTEN: ...They're optimistic about their financial futures.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: The recession hit when many millennials were at the launch point of their careers.

RYAN KOO: I got laid off, along with 700 other people on the same day, at the end of 2008.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Ryan Koo was just a few years out of college at the time. He moved home to Durham, North Carolina, and tried something else.

KOO: I started No Film School as a personal blog. My startup costs were $600, I think.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Today, the ads pay his New York rent. He's raised $125,000 on Kickstarter for his first feature film and gotten grants from more old-school places, like Tribeca and Sundance. Eileen Patten, the analyst from Pew, says, Ryan Koo is one of many millennials who feel like they can make something happen for themselves.

PATTEN: Thirty-two percent say, they currently earn enough to lead the kind of life they want. And 53 percent say, they don't, but they expect they will the future.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: That includes the millions of millennials who are still in school.

KYLA MARRKAND: I was looking at anesthesiology, EMT. I know, it is medical, but I just don't know what yet.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Kyla Marrkand is a high school senior in Washington, D.C. She knows all about the tough economy. She's realistic, but...

MARRKAND: ...Everybody doesn't have the drive. I mean, I have the drive.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: Kyla Marrkand believes it's going to well for her. She is one of the more than 80 million. So if we - millennials and non-millennials alike - are going to understand the future of the country, we need to understand this generation. Millennial have already steered the country to a place where diplomats tweet, gay marriage is turning mainstream and running a blog can be more financially secure than a company gig. If we've done all that before 35, get ready. Selena Simmons-Duffin, NPR News.


Other millennials at NPR will be reporting on their generation in the coming weeks. Those stories will be on-air, online and, of course, on social media, with the hash tag #NewBoom.

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