Layer 3: Generation/Age – Example 2
I made my debut into the world in the spring of 1985, which makes me a part of the Millennial Generation, which refers to those born between 1981-1996.
Generational data helps to analyze populations and the impact that major events have on behaviors and mindsets. As a millennial, the following major events most stand out to me and impact the way that I see the world – the internet boom and emergence of digital and social media, major terrorist attacks and mass shootings, and controversial presidential elections.
Additionally, I am the first born in my immediate family. My sister is six years younger than me, which meant that I spent the bulk of my early childhood surrounded by my parents — my father is a Baby Boomer and my mother is a Gen Xer – and their friends and colleagues which also shapes the way that I see the world. I am often described as having an old soul; for reasons such as my strong value for face-to-face interaction, using the phone to make calls, and other characteristics that do not align with typical expected millennial behavior.
The Internet boom, affectionately known as the dot-com bubble, unfolded during my formative years as an “old millennial”. From 1995 to 2001, the use of the Internet and advanced technology became a way of life. I find that I am reliant on technology and I embrace advances in technology. I utilize, have grown accustomed to, and rely heavily on the information and services that are at your fingertips due to technology advances such as rideshare, social media, search engines, news, online banking, and shopping.
The September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks are a vivid memory. I recall being in high school and an announcement being made over the announcement system that we were on lockdown until further notice. As word of the attacks began to spread amongst our teachers and staff members, classroom televisions were nervously turned to the news, my level of anxiety and confusion began to skyrocket as we watched the second plane hit the second tower and learned about attacks at the Pentagon and the downed plane in Pennsylvania. My grandmother used to work and my aunt worked only blocks away from the World Trade Center, so I immediately panicked until my family was able to get through to them by phone (the phone circuits were unable to accommodate calls for a few hours). Being that I attended high school just sixteen miles outside of the nation’s capital, I recall being overridden by fear on the ride home during our early dismissal. Soon after the September 11th attacks, the Maryland Sniper was on the loose in Montgomery County, MD, shooting innocent bystanders who were doing daily activities like pumping gas which made me fearful of completing daily activities. Additionally, attacks like Columbine, Oklahoma City, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Charleston Church, and Boston Marathon, Movie Theater attacks are also vivid memories for which my heart weeps and an intense emotions towards and fear of terrorism and unexpected tragedy has evolved within me.
I also witnessed very controversial presidential elections and scandals. I recall being a child and witnessing the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. This lead to a mistrust in leadership, because in my young mind, if we cannot trust the President of the United States, who can we trust? As I had the honor of following the presidential campaign of President Barack Obama and engaging as a millennial—the generation that is said to have gotten him into office by way of votes. As an African American, this was a moment that was beyond the wildest dreams of my ancestors and the generations before me. This election marked a feeling of hope and optimism for me. I also became more aware of the hatred that existed in the United States as I heard racist commentary and political opinions rooted in racism. As President Donald Trump campaigned and settled into office, bigotry and hatred has become even more apparent to me. Protests have become more common and my trust in political leaders and equity, has hit a new low.
While I exhibit a great deal of characteristics that millennials are typically described as, there are parts of me that are more aligned with that of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. I realize that I have an expectation that things will and can be done quickly, if not instantly, and I expect that technology be integrated when possible. As I navigate the world, I must exercise patience and manage my expectations around the use of technology. When I think about visiting countries like Cuba, a country that has not embedded technology into the way of life, I must be conscious about my expectations. I also have to be mindful of the trauma associated with terrorist attacks. I find that I have become numb to tragedy and I often times shut down and avoid discussing and dealing with tragedy. In fact, I often times elect to avoid reading “too much news” to maintain a positive outlook on the world in spite of all that is going on. I find that I am disappointed and dissatisfied with the political climate and continue to dedicate my time and resources to fighting for social justice, diversity and equity.