Are You 21 to 37? You Might Be a Millennial

click to enlarge Mark Zuckerberg, at age 33, is decidedly a millennial. - JIM WILSON/THE NEW YORK TIMES
Jim Wilson/The New York Times
Mark Zuckerberg, at age 33, is decidedly a millennial.

© 2018 New York Times News Service

Are you a millennial? Like it or not, you might be. It’s a roughly defined group, but on Thursday the Pew Research Center tried to impose some order on the chaos.

If you were born between 1981 and 1996, the group said, it will consider you a millennial. That definition is slightly more restrictive than the one used by the U.S. Census Bureau, which sets the cutoff years as 1982 and 2000.

But it still may come as a shock to some who considered themselves part of the earlier or later generations, Generation X or ... whatever we call people born after 1996. (For the time being, Pew said it would refer to them as “post-millennials.”)

So how do you decide where to draw the line between one generation and the next?

It’s not an exact science, and the determination may rely in part on intuition. After all, the center said, at the ripe old age of 37, “the oldest millennials are well into adulthood, and they first entered adulthood before today’s youngest adults were born.”

In a more systematic view, the events that shaped a person’s early life are a primary consideration, Ruth Igielnik, a research associate at the Pew Research Center, said in an interview.

“Many millennials came of age and entered the workforce at the height of the economic recession, but many young adults today are entering the workforce in an era of economic growth and low unemployment,” Igielnik said.

Technology plays a role, too. Can you remember the sound a dial-up modem used to make when it connected to the internet? Did you ever own a flip phone? Can you still hear the tinny voice of AOL announcing, “You’ve got mail”?

People born after 1996 may not remember any of those things. For many, high-speed Wi-Fi and touch-screen smartphones have always been a part of life. That is why Emma Morrow, 20, said she thought her generation should be known as the Mobile Generation.

“We were born into a world where computers could travel with us,” she said. “Everything is mobile.”

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