Millennials; born between 1977 and 1994. Currently aged between 20 and 32. The demographic cohort following the Generation X. Also known as Generation Y or Net Generation.

Lazy, entitled, self-absorbed and unruly. These are few of the adjectives by which millennials have been described. Type “millennials are” on Google and wait for the search engine to complete the search terms with words like lazy, the worst, stupid and selfish.

Somehow I feel we get a bad rap when it comes to popular perception (I am definitely a millennial). In the US, over 80% of hiring managers claim that millennials display narcissistic tendencies and are difficult to manage. This is funny because millennials also posses a list of positive qualities like the fact that they are more amenable to change, more creative, adaptable, entrepreneurial when compared to the Baby Boomer generation and generation X before them.

I feel the need to add now that I thought for a long time that millennials didn’t exist in Africa. Who cares about millennials? No one is looking. No research has been conducted on what specific attributes define a Nigerian, or African millennial.

I like to believe what makes a person are the economic and social realities they have been exposed to. So, essentially, an African millennial will have a whole different set of characteristics compared to her peers in the US or europe. However, it is impossible to ignore how some of these characteristics that form the media trope manifest among colleagues and in oneself.

Generation Y is not the first to get a similar rap though. Popular press in the late 80s described Gen X as possessing high level of skepticism, political apathy and an entitled “what’s in it for me” attitude. Perhaps we are not the worst after all.

millenial graphs

Source: Upwork

This graph from a research conducted by Elance-ODesk in the fall of 2014 also gives credence to that. When compared to the generation X before, we check out quite alright. It shows that while millennials are more narcissistic, money driven and are comfortable with a team of one, they are also vastly creative, open to change and entrepreneurial. I think that’s comforting.  

Photo Credit: Text100 via Compfight cc

Gbenga Onalaja Author

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