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By Courtney Hamilton
September 24, 2015
Caption : While Millennials are slated to become the nation's largest living generation and have already surpassed Generation X in their share of the workforce, most of the generation does not identify with the term "Millennial," a new Pew Research Center survey says.     

Sorry, fellow Millennials, for referring to our generation as such. According to a new Pew Research Center survey, you’re not very big fans of the Millennial moniker.

While Millennials—there’s that word again!—are slated to become the nation’s largest living generation and have already surpassed Generation X in their share of the workforce, most of the generation does not identify with the term “Millennial,” the survey says.

“Just 40% of adults ages 18 to 34 consider themselves part of the ‘Millennial generation,’ while another 33% – mostly older Millennials – consider themselves part of the next older cohort, Generation X,” the research reads.

Millennials’ lack of enthusiasm for their name sets them apart, as generational identity is strongest among Baby Boomers (ages 51 to 69) at 79 percent and relatively strong among Generation X (ages 35-50) at 58 percent. Only the oldest demographics surpass Millennials in their lack of generational identity: just 17 percent of the Silent Generation (ages 70 to 87) identifies as such. They’re more likely to see themselves as Baby Boomers or the “Greatest Generation”—then again, who wouldn’t want to be part of the “greatest” generation?

The results come from a survey of 3,147 adults who are part of the Center’s American Trends Panel, a nationally representative, random selection of U.S. adults. The survey also found that a general malaise pervades the collective Millennial self-consciousness. “Millennials, in particular, stand out in their willingness to ascribe negative stereotypes to their own generation: 59% say the term ‘self-absorbed’ describes their generation, compared with 30% among Gen Xers, 20% of Boomers and just 7% of Silents,” the research says.

Perhaps the apathy stems from not knowing what “Millennial” means, exactly. For one, there’s no precise dating system for definitively determining members of the generation—a lack of generational identity would, of course, be a consequence of this. Various researchers have counted birth dates ranging all the way from 1980 to 2004 as the Millennial generation.

There’s also the fact that Millennials catch a lot of flack for who they are. Remember Time’s “The Me Me Me Generation?” How could a Millennial forget? It’s not exactly intuitive to identify with “lazy, entitled, selfish and shallow.” Fortunately, a different Pew Center report reveals Millennials, despite resisting their generation’s name, to be stubbornly optimistic. Collectively, they’re different from other demographic in virtually ever metric. “They are relatively unattached to organized politics and religion, linked by social media, burdened by debt, distrustful of people, in no rush to marry— and optimistic about the future,” the report reads.

Perennially under the microscope for reasons good or bad, Millennials will probably have to get used to their names. Alternatives, like Gen Y or Digital Natives, haven’t yet stuck. Be thankful: we could be the “ever-indebted” or “narcissistically optimistic” generation.

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