Millennials: The Self-loathing Generation

4th Sep, 2015

Hi, I’m Ruairi and I’m a millennial. I’m unpatriotic, irresponsible, unwilling to sacrifice, and immoral. I’m not hard working, religious, compassionate or politically active. This, according to research released this week by the Pew Research Center, is the voice of my generation. 


% of each generation saying each term describes their generation overall; Pew Research Center

Quite why my generation is so loathe to lavish itself with praise isn’t really clear to me; we are, after all, a generation of protagonists, born to be successful, achieving everything we set our minds to because we are special. The data released this week however, tells a different story about Millennials and the regard within which they hold themselves.

Millennials 2

% of each generation saying each term describes their generation overall; Pew Research Center

Beyond our reluctance to attribute both ourselves and our cohort with positive attributes, we are also the generational group most likely to associate ourselves with negative qualities; 59% of Millennials consider themselves self-absorbed, 49% wasteful, 43% greedy and 31% cynical.

That Generation Y – or ‘generation rent’ – is down on itself does not necessarily come as a shock; 2 million 18-34s are living with their parents as the housing bubble drives not only the price of houses, but the price of renting skyward, and under 25s were seen to be the main victims of the 2015 Budget.

The differences between Millennials and their predecessors – particularly in the difference between those in Generation X and those immediately following them in aspects such as self-absorption, wastefulness, greed, and cynicism – are more surprising however, highlighting the isolated nature of this self-loathing.

Tyler Durden, the hyper-masculine alter-ego of the Narrator in 1999’s Fight Club, told his Generation X disciples in no uncertain terms, “You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake”. Generation Y, on the other hand, appears to need no telling.

Our own research – produced as part of the Trajectory Global Foresight research programme – has shown that these negative feelings, particularly regarding young peoples’ attitudes to work are not necessarily merited. No, Generation Y isn’t as religious or patriotic as its predecessors, but they are significantly more likely to prioritise both work and income than their forebears.

% of respondents stating that the respective criteria are 'Very Important'; Trajectory Global Foresight

% of respondents stating that the respective criteria are ‘Very Important’; Trajectory Global Foresight


Whether you’re marketing to or looking to hire Millennials, this is a hard-working generation with something to prove. Don’t overlook them.