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Garbage generation, or garbage journalism?

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As much as I might wish newspapers would just stop already, articles of the MILLENIALS WANT TO SUCK OUT YOUR BRAINS WHILE LISTENING TO SHITTY MUSIC! variety seem to be as common as the ones about research that shows wine/chocolate/coffee is good for you. I tend to give such articles a pass. However, I did enjoy this analysis of the NYT’s latest contribution to the overflowing recycle bin of Millenialmania articles.

There are few things more satisfying than finding another reason that millenials are the worst. They’re narcissistic, coddled, unpatriotic, racist, and nervous about free speech. And now, millennial men want a return to the nostalgic 1950s, with women in the kitchen, whipping up a nice quiche after a hard day on the line.

This is the story presented in Stephanie Coontz’s Friday piece in the New York Times, “Do Millennial Men Want Stay-at-Home Wives,” which reports on evidence from the Council on Contemporary Families (using the General Social Survey) and from sociologists Joanna Pepin and David Cotter (using Monitoring the Future).

The NYT article contains chart based on data from the 2014 GSS, which shows that 52% of men aged 18-25 disagreed with the statement “It is much better for everyone involved if the man is the achiever outside the home and the women takes care of the home and family.”

But the GSS just released their 2016 data this week. 89% of men disagree or strongly disagree with the statement “It is much better for everyone involved if the man is the achiever outside the home and the women takes care of the home and family” – the highest rate among either men or women ages 18-25 in the GSS’s 40-year history. It’s also much higher than the rate reported by everyone older than 25, about 71%.

So is the story, “Clinton defeat inspires millennial men to gender equality”? Or more likely, “Garbage millennial men can’t make up their mind about women”?

I suspect it’s another, less sexy story: you can’t say a lot about millennials based on talking to 66 men.

The GSS surveys are pretty small – about 2,000-3,000 per wave – so once you split by sample, and then split by age, and then exclude the older millennials (age 26-34) who don’t show any negative trend in gender equality, you’re left with cells of about 60-100 men ages 18-25 per wave. Standard errors on any given year are 6-8 percent.

Another, other story: Given enough time and determination, a hack will find a way to hack some numbers into a bias confirming, click baiting article.

As an aside, newspapers keep bemoaning the fact that Thekidstoday don’t read newspapers like the Elder Ones. Then they publish articles about the shittiness of Thekidstoday. I assume this is a short-term plan to get page hits by trolling the hell out of them, until whatever generation is coming up next is old enough to troll.

???

Profit!

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  • Jordan

    So 34 year olds still count as millenials? Good. Wouldn’t want to be one of those garbage gen-xers.

    And god I haven’t listened to that song in years, good link! What were we talking about again?

    • Nobdy

      There’s a very weird interaction going on between the standard demographics of 18-34 year olds as defined by marketers, and the definition of “generations” like Millenial or Gen X. It used to be that millennials started at 1980 but over the last few years as those “older millennials” have slid over the lip of the key demo into the 35-44 demographic they have also been slid out of the generation, into Gen X or maybe limbo or something. As one of those people it’s been a weird thing to see. I wonder if it will continue and all 18-34 year olds will be considered millennials from now on (has the post millennial generation even been named yet?) or if at some point I will be scooped back into the millennial bucket as it becomes clear that the demo can’t be overlaid with the generation.

      Shows how silly all this stuff is.

      On another note, is the site acting really badly for anyone else? It’s kind of bad at the best of times for me but I’m getting lots of freezes and forced scrolling right now. I’ve used it on multiple browsers across multiple devices too, so I think it’s unlikely to just be an incompatibility with what I’m using (which is standard stuff anyway…Windows 10 or Android with Chrome or Edge.)

      • carolannie

        Your other note: I would say, offhand, that there is a buggy script running somewhere. I often get those going to the MJ site. Clear your cache and cookies etc, then reload.

        If that doesn’t work, I would have to remote in to your computer to fix it. Good thing you don’t have my email address.

      • Jordan

        I agree, and I do think that marketers will keep calling the young’uns millenials for a while, and I’ll be off into the limbo after that as well. I think the naming of the generations was a media thing that made sense for the generation after world war two, got back-tracked to the generation that actually fought world war two, and then naturally got fixed onto the generation after (or the other way around). After that, without a real delineation point, it all gets fuzzy.

        No problem for me re: reading the site, but I use adblock here (the ad service can be pretty terrible) and donate money whenever they ask for it. I think that helps.

        • NonyNony

          I’m sure folks have suggested it, but I’d really like to see a Patreon setup for the site. I’d love to be able to give a recurring donation, and the setup Patreon has from a donor’s perspective is wonderful. I don’t know how complex it is from the site-owner’s perspective, but from a donor’s perspective it’s great.

          • Jordan

            ya, that would be cool. I think most of them have amazon wishlists.

      • kvs

        The boundary between Gen X and Millennials is FUBAR. The pace of technological change and–as a result–the pace of influential current events ramped up so much between ’80 and ’00 that there’s a lot less in common between the first and last of the cohort than for other generations.

        • LeeEsq

          My general belief is that anybody younger that if you were younger than sixteen when Bill Clinton won the 1992 election than you aren’t a Gen Xer. I associate Gen X very strongly with being in your teen years during the 1980s and twenties during the 1990s, so the most generous end date I’m willing to give for birth is somewhere in the late 1970s.

          • Nobdy

            So now I’m not a Gen Xer because I wasn’t born in the 70’s and I was born too early in the 80’s to be a millennial.

            What AM I THEN? WHAT AM I?

            We children of the early 80’s are real! We exist! You can’t deny us! We are human beings! We are HUMAN BEINGS!

            Fine. We’ll start our own generation. With blackjack and hookers! Well, probably not hookers, that’s not really feminist. But blackjack’s fine, I think.

            • LeeEsq

              Blackjack sounds distinctly millennial because it goes with that entire 1890s revival thing that some of them have going on.

              • Nobdy

                Oh come on! How many of your key Gen X cultural touchstones are based around Vegas and blackjack? From Swingers (THAT’S RIGHT! YOU GEN XERS ARE SO PROUD OF BEN STILLER AND ETHAN HAWK BUT YOU GET VINCE VAUGHN TOO! YOU GET VAUGHN TOO!) to Bill Simmons columns to your goddamned Ocean’s 11 remake.

                Millenials are too busy with their snappy chats and facey books to bother with something as retrograde as casino gambling. Hell the poker boom was driven by Xers.

                YOUR XER PROPAGANDA WON’T FLY HERE, OLD MAN! GO BACK TO THE GARAGE IN SEATTLE THAT SPAWNED YOU!

            • Abbey Bartlet

              I used to hear 80s-early 90s babies (including me) called Gen Y. I still prefer that.

              • kvs

                I’d definitely be more open to identifying more discrete generational cohorts after Gen X if Gen Xers can’t see the folly of their claim to the 90s.

            • guthrie

              The 1980’s, the decade people pretend didn’t exist…

              Except it did, obviously. They made better films back then, ones they are still rebooting and making sequels of today.

              • tsam

                80s music–wildly underrated in certain genres. Wildly overrated in others.

          • kvs

            Because we should read your lips to understand that the ’92 campaign is such a significant cultural touchstone. That’s not exactly a “where were you when (J/R)FK was shot?” moment. Next you’ll move the goalposts to either the first Gulf War or the fall of the Berlin Wall where you might have at least had a case instead of an arbitrary belief.

        • louislouis

          I was born in ’79. In high school no one had a cell phone, there was no social media, and the internet was kinda primitive. My first car had a cassette player which was what I played when driving around (new CDs were pretty expensive). We had no memories of the 70s but 80s pop culture was our collective childhood. All of which is to say that me and my friends are much culturally closer to someone born in ’69 than someone born in ’99, and that’s why we’re Xers. I sort of agree with the idea of a millennial cohort starting a few years later because you have a vastly different teen culture – that whole TRL era – but more importantly you get MySpace, more and more kids with phones, more file sharing; a more technologically connected world than the mid-90s, even if it seems rudimentary by today’s standards.

          • louislouis

            Sorry, meant to say ’89, not ’99

      • NewishLawyer

        The standard comment/joke is that people born between 1978-1980 were born in the purgatory between generations. We don’t remember enough of the 1970s or early 80s to be Gen X but remember life before the net.

        My anecdotal observations among my cohort is that we are split between people who identify more with Generation X (I am in this group) and people who identify with Millennials. Interestingly the millennial identifiers are way more into gifs and memes and instagram or whatever new social media platform there is.

        My anecdotal evidence

        • kvs

          People born as late as ’86 remember life before the ‘Net. Internet access didn’t become ubiquitous until fairly far into the ’90s.

          • kvs

            And by ubiquitous, I mean “likely to be accessible even in public schools or public libraries.”

            • Tom in BK

              The first email I sent was in fifth grade. We were the only classroom in the elementary school with an Internet connection.

              Born in ’83.

          • Philip

            “Have you ever used a pre-Win95 computer” is my personal marker, as a Yoot born a year after the USSR dissolved

            • Philip

              amendment: Do you really *remember* using a pre-win95 computer

          • Abbey Bartlet

            People born as late as ’86 remember life before the ‘Net.

            Hi. ’88 baby here. I certainly remember when it was no more than a vague curiosity.

          • ’86 myself. Definitely remember lots of “the new Information Superhighway!!” stuff. I feel like this changed quickly — when I was very young it was something of a novelty for a person to have Internet access at home, but by my early teens it was somewhat remarkable for a middle-class family not to have it. I suspect the introduction of internet-capable computers into schools had a big impact.

            In my opinion, there were three major internet epochs in my lifetime: commodity dialup access (AOL, Compuserve, etc.) in the early ’90s; widespread penetration of broadband/always-on internet access in the early ’00s; ubiquitous mobile phones with data plans in the late ’00s/early ’10s. Each of these has had a progressively larger cultural impact.

      • petesh

        For me, it seems to be related to the ad below the OP (but this one seems OK). If I close that, everything gets better. Of course, while I knew something about this stuff in the 1980s, I may now be engaging in totem behavior.

        Maybe exorcism might restore the Edit function! But I’m not sprinkling holy water on my computational devices. A little incense could be OK, but that’s risky too.

      • Derelict

        I have long complained, but the answers I keep getting amount to “It’s not us, it’s you.” I can only conclude that there must be enormous profit in the Flash ads that force your browser window to the ad and then prevent scrolling away from the ad while also making it difficult or impossible to type a comment.

        So, yeah–DONATE button please, and ditch the Flash ads.

        • Nobdy

          There IS a Donate button, but it doesn’t help with the ads.

          I think the Patreon idea is good but it doesn’t seem like management wants to institute it. It’s probably at least in part because this blog is nobody’s primary source of income, so they don’t want to feel obligated to produce. Though with Loomis, Lemieux and Shakezula on the masthead that’s not a real problem, since all three generate a ton of content pretty reliably.

      • JL

        Somehow some people have internalized the idea that millennials means college students, even though older millennials were born in the early 1980s. I forget which politician it was except that it was someone I actually have a fair amount of regard for, but there was some (Boomer) politician who recently explained to a mostly younger audience, regarding millennial idealism, that she used to be a millennial too.

    • Murc

      So 34 year olds still count as millenials? Good. Wouldn’t want to be one of those garbage gen-xers.

      The penumbras between generations are always sort of blurry.

      The generational labels are useful shorthands for “this group of people largely share the same cultural touchstones and experiences, which have shaped them into some degree of commonality.” That’s more or less always been true, and its a useful way to talk about generational cohorts without needing to massively qualify all your statements all the time.

      The problem is that cultural touchstones and experiences change over time, and there’s not always a clean breakpoint.

      The people born in 1945 are definitely boomers, for example. The people born in 1970 are definitely Gen-X. They’re going to fall easily into baskets and I think you discuss those baskets without being too grossly inaccurate.

      The problem comes with the people in the spaces in-between. This is how you get, say, the Silent Generation, which didn’t used to be a thing and was coined to cover the people who weren’t old enough for WWII to have been super relevant to them as something they might have to go and fight, but were obviously not Boomers. There are other weird penumbras as well. Someone born in, say, 1960 is technically still a boomer under most taxonomies… but they would have been more concerned with playing with toys and getting their homework done than paying attention to all the explosive culture wars that happened in the 60s, and wouldn’t have been old enough to vote for a President until Reagan’s election.

      GenX/GenY (remember when Millenials were GenY?) is another strange and porous boundary. I do think a case can be made that its weirder than most; I was born in 1981. There are people I went to high school with who are, culturally, absolutely GenX, and others who are hit so many of the millenial cultural markers that you’d be forgiven for thinking they were born in 1995.

      We’re about due for another shift as well. 2020 will be the first presidential election in which people who were not alive during Bill Clinton’s presidency can vote, and the year whoever wins that one is sworn in will be the year in which the older millenials start turning forty; many of them will have kids in college. So look out for the post-millenials, people who were like six years old when Obama entered office and for whom 9/11 and the shittiest years of Iraq and Afghanistan are things that happened in history books.

      • Jordan

        I mean, I think agree with you and wrote a comment saying similar things less well.

        I do kinda think WW2 provided a key break point. So you had the kids (boomers). And then that got backtracked to their parents (the “greatest”) and … forwarded … to “gen x”.

        But there isn’t any similar break point, so everyone is just millenials, and it makes sense to talk about kids as millenials, so it just stretches.

        We may be “due” for another shift, but I think most of what controls this narrative is mostly marketers and advertisers at this point, so expecting anything out of them is a fools game.

      • djw

        I was born in 75 and I feel as though I used to be borderline-too young, or at best on the very youngest edge, of Gen-X. But over time Gen-X has shifted to more comfortably accommodate me.

        My own view is that of course tracking changes over time, and noting commonality in public opinion or revealed preferences or whatever across several years or a decade or whatever, is fine. Once we start giving the generations cute names and break-off years and imagining all kinds of shared characteristics, habits, and values, the waters get more muddy than clear and confirmation bias starts to swamp useful analysis.

        • Murc

          I largely agree with this, although I would submit that break-points can be useful sometimes. I think that “old enough to have been politically and/or socially aware during 9/11 and the fallout” will be a useful one in the future, for example, although that’s less a hard break point and more of a range.

          • djw

            The problem with generational analysis is that they make break-points general. While in reality, there might be a cohort commonality on attitude X for those born between 70-80, but on belief Y it’s between 75-85, whereas on habit Z it’s 65-75, and so on and so forth. Once some conception of a generation has been reified, this rather obvious fact falls out of the range of vision.

      • LeeEsq

        I’ve usually seen the baby boom as lasting from 1945 to 1964 and 1965 is something like the first year of Generation X. In popular culture, the baby boom is definitely defined by the early boomers because they were the ones involved in the political and cultural struggles of the 1960s and fighting in Vietnam. Later boomers, those born in the mid-50s to early 60s are left out of this.

        Another thing I’ve wondered about is why isn’t the Silent Generation seen as the rock Generation. The early boomers were still in elementary school when rock came out, junior high at oldest. It’s the Silent Generation that provided the first teenage audience for rock and classic teenage culture. Yet, they aren’t really defined by it.

        • louislouis

          Agree w/your point re: the Silent Generation. The people buying that first Elvis record, by and large, weren’t 10 years old (age of the oldest boomer in 1956). I think there’s some revisionism in the belief that the “rock era” started with the Beatles, and the fact that most of the young Beatlemaniacs would have been Boomers. But even this is problematic (aside from the fact that it writes off an entire decade of rock) because you’re looking at rock purely from an audience perspective. the Beatles, Stones, Hendrix, Doors, Janis – basically all of the major performers idolized by Boomers in the 60’s – were not themselves Boomers, but Silents.

      • Philip

        2020 will also be the first election where people who were not alive pre-AUMF can vote.

      • bender

        I expect the election of 2020 to be as consequential to the US as 1860 or 1932. If I’m right about that, anyone born from about 2008 to 2032 or so will be a distinct generation.

        The consequences of the next presidential election may be swamped by something more global. “Before the effects of climate change became pervasive and obvious” will be a dividing line in generational outlook like the Internet. We haven’t quite reached that line but it’s coming up, probably within the next ten years.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          “Before the effects of climate change became pervasive and obvious” will be a dividing line in generational outlook like the Internet. We haven’t quite reached that line but it’s coming up, probably within the next ten years.

          Those born after that point, of course, will be the Final Generation.

      • IM

        I am not an american and so I would use other markers and other cput off points.

        Woken in the middele of the night, I would answer:

        Pope: John Paul II

        Chancellor: Helmut Kohl

        General secretary of the CPSU: Leonid Brezhnev.

        Now the chancellor is a local thing, but the third question marks the border between generation X and millenials: Milenials can’t remember the SU.

        And the pope will mark the next border: As soon as John Paul II ist no longer automatically the pope, a new generation will have formed.

        • Just_Dropping_By

          but the third question marks the border between generation X and millennials: Millennials can’t remember the SU.

          This is a point that I’ve made before, but which very few media outlets ever seem interested in as a generational “milestone” — one of the defining characteristics of “Generation X” should be someone having been old enough to be aware of the end of the Cold War and the collapse of Communism, i.e., basically born no later than 1982.

    • sharculese

      Last fall’s season of Survivor was themed Millennials vs. Gen X and apparently, the dividing line is whether you were over or under 32 in the spring of 2016. The Millennial tribe had 31-year-olds and the Gen X tribe had a 33-year-old.

      But also the Gen X tribe had a guy who by any definition was a Boomer, so this is maybe not the best guide.

      • sharculese

        Oh, also, it was a real fun exercise in “everyone thinks the generation after them is the worst.” The whole narrative was “hardworking Gen Xers had to earn what they have while entitled Millennials want everything handed to them.” The phrase ‘participation trophy’ was said. A lot. To the point where a lot of Gen X-age fans were asking “when did we stop being lazy and shiftless?”

        • Abbey Bartlet

          Remind me again who gave out all those participation trophies?

          *hmm emoji*

          • sharculese

            The most comment response to that from fans was “what are you talking about, we totally got participation trophies as kids.”

            Granted, a huge chunk of the participation trophy talk came from the Boomer, a grizzled boat mechanic from Key West who also claimed Millennials don’t go to the store because they can get their milk delivered by drones.

            • N__B

              they can get their milk delivered by drones.

              No cartons: the drone sprays milk directly into your bowl.

              • muddy

                You’d need a pretty big drone to carry the cow.

                • Origami Isopod

                  Doesn’t have to be cow milk. Could be a goat. Or a cat.

          • louislouis

            That’s pretty rich since the entire reputation of Gen X in the 90’s was that they were lazy entitled “slackers.” I’m slightly younger than that cohort but I remember a lot of them hating the name at the time because it was used in that really pejorative sense. One day, “Millennial” too will simply signify a generational bracket; once the media has moved on to kicking some other group of young people, of course.

  • Hi! Thanks for the link and glad you enjoyed Emily Beam’s post. I think it’s worth not going too overboard in our critique of the NYT here. The main thing that went wrong was the headline, which focused on the (relatively flimsy) GSS evidence. Most of the op-ed holds up, and is based on much more careful research reported in the CCF symposium here. There is a troubling pattern of, at least, a stall in egalitarian attitudes and behaviors, and in some areas some evidence of a rollback. It’s not as extreme as the op-ed makes it sound, and the gendered differential is not super clear (the GSS data made it look like just young men were the problem), but there’s a real story here about a lack of progress if not a big regress.

    • My only beef with the Millennial generation is their Eloi-esque infatuation with frictionless living.

      • kvs

        Millenials aren’t like the Eloi. They’re like Larry in The Razor’s Edge. Their path through the world looks like “loafing” because it doesn’t resemble the one trod by their parents but is actually an effortful search for meaning.

        Frictionless isn’t an apt descriptor for a generation where unpaid internships and an increased likelihood to move back in with their parents before being able to find a job and form a new household.

      • Origami Isopod

        What do you mean by “frictionless”?

        • Abbey Bartlet

          What do you mean by “frictionless”?

          Perhaps K-Y has data by age that shows millennials purchase significant quantities.

        • Driverless cars, dating apps, Alexis/Siri, etc. Basically living a programmed life where all decisions are made for you.

          Obviously not everyone. But a substantial percentage remind me of those who can’t make change without a calculator.

          • Philip

            Convenience matters when you’re working 2 jobs just to pay off student loans and make rent. Also, no one actually uses Siri or Alexa for anything more significant than “hey Siri, set a timer” or “hey Alexa, play “Money,” by Pink Floyd.”

          • Origami Isopod

            You mean, just like the first generations living with electricity never learned how to build a fire, unless they went to Boy or Girl Scouts? And the first generations living with plumbing never learned how to haul water from a well?

            Also, please explain to me how a dating app makes decisions for you. Or how a driverless car can abduct you and take you somewhere you didn’t plan on going. Or … don’t, because I suspect your comment is essentially “Old man yells at cloud.”

            • sibusisodan

              I suspect your comment is essentially “Old man yells at Cloud.”

              Capitalisation is key on this subject.

            • No, my comment was about overreliance on technology. But whatever. Think what you want to think.

          • tsam

            Driverless cars, dating apps, Alexis/Siri, etc. Basically living a programmed life where all decisions are made for you.

            U WOT M8?

      • tsam

        If I had a beef with millennials, it would be their stupid insistence on existing and doing what they do, which of course obligates older soreheads to bitch about them on the internet. Some nerve.

        • If I had a beef with millennials, it would be their stupid insistence on existing and doing what they do,…

          Maybe you should talk to someone about that. Like I said, my only beef is what I percieve to be an Eloi-esque reliance on technology. Other than that, I like them quite alot.

    • Hello, many thanks for stopping by, for the links to something more analytical.

  • Ronan
  • MAJeff
    • MAJeff

      OK, Ronan beat me.

      • Ronan

        Only, it seems, because where you used ten words as lead in, I used one.
        Concision is the key to quick linking ; )

    • gmoot

      The GSS doesn’t interview college kids living in dorms or group housing. Its sample of 18-25 year olds is thus going to be biased toward more rural and more conservative kids, e.g., the working class kids who entered the labor market right after high school. The bias problem is going to increase over time.

      tl; dr: it’s a terrible survey for saying anything about millenials’ attitudes.

      The Monitoring the Future data set used in the original article referred to in the Times piece doesn’t have this problem, but ends in 2015. It shows a pretty clear decline in gender progressiveness

  • MAJeff

    “Generations” are among the worst analytical categories. I fucking hate every story that mentions “Millennials” as though they are a thing.

    • econoclast

      That’s because your generation is the worst.

      No, I don’t know what generation you are. How is that relevant?

    • Tom in BK

      I was born in 83. I have almost nothing in common with people who were toddlers when 9/11 happened, who barely remember the Iraq War, the Bush years, etc. I guess we all use smart phones, but, y’know, so does my mom.

      What gets me is that it’s so lazy to put together these types of analyses. Like Tom-Friedman-lazy.

      • Jordan

        I’m also an ’83er, and my first political memory is something to do with the cold war ending. Particularly, that the newsman on tv told me that they weren’t showing the normal morning cartoons and that I should go wake my parents up. Which I did, and at which point my parents told me to go do something else so they could go back to bed.

        • Tom in BK

          Ah. Mine’s of election night in ’88, but I was raised in Massachusetts, and Dukakis was our boy. My old man didn’t throw a chair like he did for the ’86 World Series, but there was quite a bit of colorful language throughout. (I don’t actually remember the chair being thrown, but it’s the last time he ever watched the Red Sox in the playoffs.)

          • Jordan

            ahh, thats sad. The Red Sox have done so well recently!

            • Tom in BK

              C’est la vie. He read about it in the papers when the curse was finally broken. I think my mother strongly disapproved of the chair-throwing incident, which may have played a role in his abstention.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            My first memory is Election Night ’92.

        • IM

          Well mine is a pope dying, a new elected, the next dying after a month.

        • Snuff curry

          Mine’s “money cannot buy either trust or racial harmony” and that happened a year before I was born. Heard about it often enough because parents were in Stockwell that spring. First one I actually remember was the second summer Olympics boycott because I was convinced I was being personally thwarted from seeing Péter Kovács and the entire Soviet women’s team in action.

    • Stag Party Palin

      “Generations” are among the worst analytical categories. I fucking hate every story that mentions “Millennials” as though they are a thing.

      Snap! IMHO their best only use is for Sociology PhD theses.

      The people born in 1945 are definitely boomers, for example. The people born in 1970 are definitely Gen-X. They’re going to fall easily into baskets and I think you discuss those baskets without being too grossly inaccurate.

      (from Murc)

      Bullshit, cowshit and batshit. No offence, but these sweeping generalizations are just that. And always have been.

      “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.”

      — Cicero

  • sleepyirv

    I’m sick and tired of “college kids are destroying the freedom of speech!” stories which are aimed at middle-age readers and concern troll bloggers. You think freedom of speech is important? Go persuade college students that’s true. They’re the leaders of tomorrow after all.

    It’s hypocritical to say college students have to listen to a bunch of racists and fascists because of the marketplace of ideas when you yourself refuse to interact with college students at all, preferring to mock them with friends from your perch on the editorial page.

    • bw

      That might happen in a world where we didn’t have a charlatan like Greg Lukianoff running AstroTurf efforts this “movement”.

      Just for funsies I once briefly researched the details of Lukianoff’s favorite case of a faculty member crushed under the jackboot of campus orthodoxy: that of Donald Hindley, a pro-Palestinian professor who claimed Brandeis was using a student complaint against him of harassment as a pretext to punish him for his political views. What was the draconian punishment handed down to Hindley? Did they fire him, suspend him, strip him of tenure, take away his pension? Much, much worse: they had someone come in and observe a couple of his lectures. My God, this stifling of ACADEMIC FREEEEDOM shows that we’re on a slippery slope to late Stalinism!

    • Murc

      I’m sick and tired of “college kids are destroying the freedom of speech!” stories which are aimed at middle-age readers and concern troll bloggers.

      Those stories have always been with us and always will be.

      Well, for a certain value of “always.” Since at least the postwar era, you get a fair number of college kids who either flirt with or embrace the idea that liberal freedoms are worthless bourgeoisie values that need to be swept aside to build the bold new society of the future. And you get people writing stories about them.

      And people have been wringing their hands about these views for just as long.

      Now, to a certain extent I understand being alarmed by that, because I hold those views to be deplorable and I’d like to not one day have to deal with them gaining actual ascendancy within the political coalition to which I belong.

      But at the same time… college students, man. Talk to me when they can hold some rallies bigger than the population of their dorms who don’t have anything better to do on a weekend, or when they’re in their mid-thirties running for political office on explicitly anti-freedom platforms and gathering big big votes.

      Until then, I’m like “meh.”

    • louislouis

      The best ones are those where the students in question have the temerity to object to someone (almost always already rich) being paid to speak, usually at the ceremony where these same students are being spat out into the world loaded to the gills with debt.

  • djw

    I almost posted about that on Friday, but I’m glad I waited. Generational analysis is almost always lazy and reductive, but on the basis of her excellent body of work trusted Stephanie Coontz to do better. I hope for her sake the failure to take a look at the 2016 GSS data was a matter of timing, not an omission of convenience. At a minimum, the initial op-ed should have contained a warning about the sample size limitations of the data she was looking at.

    • djw

      edit–I see she and the Times added and addendum. Good.

    • MAJeff

      Yeah. She’s a solid scholar.

  • Linnaeus

    I blame Strauss and Howe.

  • carolannie
  • Happy Jack

    Based on midterm voting patterns, I choose dumpster generation. Thankfully, old people like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and their cohorts are around to go toe-to-toe with fascism.

    • humanoid.panda

      Yawn. Younger people always have lower turnout rates than older ones- even back in the 1980s when the yung’uns leaned GOP and the olds were the FDR generation.

      • kvs

        Those olds voted for Reagan in a landslide.

        And then continued to fuck everything up for the youngs. It wasn’t millennials causing all those recessions, killing pensions, and eroding the social safety net.

        • humanoid.panda

          Um, you realize that people, you know, age and die?

          The olds of Reagan’s time are dead. The youngs of Reagan’s age are now in their fifties and sixties and seventies. (an 20 year old voting in 1980 is now 57..).

    • Just a Rube

      I mean, hasn’t this always been a thing with younger vs older voters? Low turnout, especially during non-presidential elections?

      Which is one reason I’ve always found pieces on “millenials” insufferable: it basically just tends to be used as a synonym for “young people,” and especially for “young white people [usually from wealthy families].” Most of the discussions of “millenials” don’t even acknowledge the fact that they’re racially and ethnically more diverse than preceding.

      Admittedly that last issue is a problem for lots of contexts (Loomis and others have noted how stories about “working-class families” almost exclusively mean “white working-class”).

    • djw

      As the previous two posters note, lower youth turnout is a robust phenomenon across time and space, and as such provides no useful insights about the current generation.

      • LosGatosCA

        Every generation of young people seem to have more important things to do in a less stable, more transient period of their lives than vote on a Tuesday about issues they haven’t yet engaged.

        It’s a curse, really. That they’re preoccupied with finding the meaning in their own lives, establishing their educational foundation, charting their careers and dealing with irrational hormonal impulses at the same time that science has established that the human brain isn’t fully developed until age 25.

        Why can’t they be as settled as middle aged, middle class white people who already are emotionally secure, more financially stable, and are more likely to have established a ‘permanent’ address in a community.

        The only thing more boring than every older generation complaining that every younger generation is irresponsible are stories from the younger generation that they are the first ones to discover sexual freedom, etc.

        • humanoid.panda

          You are putting too much onus on emotional stuff here. The issue is simply that young people tend to move around a lot, and thus are not necessarily aware of who their congressman, etc is. They are also not settled in wherever they are going to be living at, so they don’t engage with local politics- which is what happens at midterms. (I’d be curious to see how turnout rates of young people who own houses compare with ones who rent..)

          • LosGatosCA

            Show me a 19 year old who is motivated to vote in a June election on a Tuesday focused on local municipal and school issues when they have a chance to go to the beach with some friends, and I’ll show you a 19 year old who doesn’t have any friends to go to the beach with.

            Substitute voter registration deadline, primary, or midterm election or what have you.

            Kids do whatever other kids are doing.

            Older people talk about the school budget election and property taxes at their neighbors barbeque. Young adults don’t. It’s that simple.

            • Nobdy

              It’s definitely not that simple. A lot of young people are extremely politically engaged, but there’s also intentional disenfranchisement of college students by the states they live in to attend school, and the fact that many young people haven’t been aware through consequential elections (if you were 18 in 2014 then you were 12 when Obama was elected, and things were relatively stable, politically, for that period. You probably don’t even really understand the recession, especially if it didn’t hit your parents hard.)

              Over time you learn that these things really matter and directly effect your life. Or you learn hopelessness.

              But regardless of any social/personal reasons there is also intentional (and unintentional) disenfranchisement of people who go out of state for school, which is a large portion of the young population.

              • LosGatosCA
                • Nobdy

                  I don’t know what you’re trying to prove with those links, one of which is broken.

              • humanoid.panda

                There is also the fact that if you are a college student, you probably don’t care all that much about who is on the local school board.

                • Tom in BK

                  Additionally, it’s getting much harder to learn about local issues as local newspapers are gutted.

                  I’m a reporter’s kid, so this bothers me more than most, but I still keep up with my hometown news. Can’t recall the last time I read about a zoning board meeting in the local paper.

                • djw

                  Not long after I graduated, a concerted and evidently largely successful effort to get WWU students registered and voting in Bellingham helped transform the Whatcom County Council from being majority militia sympathizers to being majority dirty hippies. (that’s probably a slight overstatement on both ends)

            • corporatecake

              How many old people would take voting in a June municipal election over going to the beach? Maybe the spouses of the people running, but other than that, not many.

              • Philip

                *rings the “everyone should have easy access to vote-by-mail” gong*

          • JL

            It can also be confusing to be both newly eligible to vote and trying to navigate, for instance, voting absentee (though I hear that is getting easier in some places) as a college student. 2004 was the first election where I was eligible to vote. I didn’t know if I was allowed to vote in local Massachusetts races without giving up my right to vote for president in a state where the outcome was slightly more in question. And then, in the presidential race, it took me long enough to figure out how to get an absentee ballot and then actually get one that I failed to actually get my vote cast in time. These days there are more resources online for figuring that stuff out, or maybe I’m just more clued in about how to find them, but the combination of being in college and navigating the election system for the first time still seems like a bad combination for turnout.

            • Nobdy

              These days there are more resources online

              This statement, standing alone, is obviously true. The web matured a lot from 2004 to 2017.

            • Origami Isopod

              These days there are more resources online for figuring that stuff out,

              True, but IMO it’s no replacement for a public school education with a strong emphasis on civics. You need that orientation, reinforced over and over during your formative years.

              • JL

                Quality civics education is great and important, but I don’t remember my (good) high school government & politics class ever covering the logistical and procedural issues of voting as a college student living in a state far away from your home state.

                • humanoid.panda

                  Right. Given the hodge-podge of American electoral procedures, it’s impossible for high school civics to cover all possible scenarios.

                • Origami Isopod

                  My comment could have been clearer. I was talking about the basic structure of U.S. government, although I realize that back in “the good old days” not every high school covered that, either.

  • familyunequal

    From the comments, it appears some of you might like a few things I wrote about “millennials” and the whole generations thing, from a demographic perspective: https://familyinequality.wordpress.com/tag/generations/

  • West

    The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine gave space to a Millennial to push back on the “kids are whiners” trope:

    • West

      screwed that up, trying again:

      • West

        ummmm, not sure it’s me at this point……

        anyhow, either I’m screwing up the link or gravatar is screwing up, but anyhow, the Boston Globe is easy enough to find online.

        • Type what you want the link to say.

          Highlight where you want the link to go.

          Click the “link” button above the comment box.

          Paste the link and click “OK.”

          And it looks like this.

          • West

            thanks – very different than he other sites i post at…. next time I’ll get it.

    • Tom in BK

      OT, but among the many virtues of the Globe Magazine, their “Dinner with Cupid” every week is amazing. This week’s kind of a clunker, but there are some gems.

  • socraticsilence

    As an older millenial, let me just point out. that it’s pretty clear the Boomers are the worst generation.

    Taking credit for the accomplishments of their elders (the leaders of the civil rights era were largely Silent generation types with the occasional John Lewis exception), saturating our media landscape with endless self-congratulatory restrospectives and films; and bitching about but nit really fixing any problems then turning hard right (a majority of the whiter elements) when it comes time to fix the problems they in part caused.

    Its not shocking that only Boomer President with a substantial positive legacy is on the outer edge of the cohort chronologically and only experienced JFK, Vietnam, etc as fkeeting childhood memories.

    • Murc

      Taking credit for the accomplishments of their elders

      This is something they have in common with the Greatest Generation, who like to brag about how they won WWII and whipped the Great Depression when by and large those deeds were accomplished by their forebears. FDR and his New Deal political coalition weren’t Greatest Generation, they were the two previous ones.

      • Gen X’ers are the worst. Most of the people I graduated with turned out to be garbage or Trumpers or both. :/

      • IM

        As pointed out to me once in a comment thread, voters and politicans in power during the vietnam war were not boomers but the greatest generation.

    • bender

      The Boomers sent men to the Moon and back and created popular music so good that several successive generations of youth are listening to our oldies. Revival of the feminist movement was a joint project of Silents and Boomers. We made environmental protection a popular movement for awhile.

      Apart from that, I mostly agree with you.

      • IM

        The Boomers sent men to the Moon.

        Werner von Braun was a boomer?

        Even Neil Armstrong was born in 1930…

        • humanoid.panda

          The Boomers sent men to the Moon and back and created popular music so good that several successive generations of youth are listening to our oldies. Revival of the feminist movement was a joint project of Silents and Boomers. We made environmental protection a popular movement for awhile.

          On the music, you are right.
          Environmental protection is a mixed bag: while the politicians who voted for it were not boomers, youthful enthusiasm for the cause helped.
          The moon? This is a-historical.

          • humanoid.panda

            If you want to credit the boomers with something, that’s the digital revolution. From Unix and C to the internet, modern computing was made by the boomers.

            • From Unix and C to the internet, modern computing was made by the boomers.

              Ritchie, Kernighan, and Thompson were born in 1940, 1941, and 1942 (not necessarily in that order), four and more years before “the Baby Boom” as generally defined. Multics was “made by the boomers”.

        • Werner von Braun was a boomer?

          He was behind quite a lot of BOOM!s in London.

      • bender

        My first claim above is totally wrong. The moon shot was led by Kennedy who was a WWII vet, and most of the engineers and pilots were Silent Generation. Boomers followed it and paid some of the bills.

        So, Rock (as distinguished from Rock and Roll, which was a Silents creation as a previous poster pointed out), Second Wave Feminism, and Earth Day, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, etc.

        i have noticed over the years that while the Civil Rights Movement is on everybody’s list of major movements of the mid twentieth century, and the Voting Rights Act is always cited as a great liberal accomplishment, somehow lists of important postwar social movements almost never include the return of organized feminism. Abolishing sex-segregated employment ads not as important as abolishing segregated water fountains? Making the police treat domestic violence as a crime not an advance in civic morality? Ending overt quotas on the percentage of women admitted to Stanford University not as significant as ending covert quotas on admission of Jews to Ivy League colleges?

        I wonder why that is, hmm? Could it be that this phenomenon of selective attention has something in common with reporters writing stories about the working class that don’t include people of color?

    • Stag Party Palin

      As an older millenial, let me just point out. that it’s pretty clear the Boomers are the worst generation.

      You forgot the sarcasm font.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      Its not shocking that only Boomer President with a substantial positive legacy is on the outer edge of the cohort chronologically and only experienced JFK, Vietnam, etc as fkeeting childhood memories.

      (1) Are you contending that Bill Clinton didn’t have a “substantial positive legacy”? (2) And isn’t it premature to declare that Obama had a “substantial positive legacy” when he’s only been out of office less than three months?

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        (1) Are you contending that Bill Clinton didn’t have a “substantial positive legacy”?

        Clinton Derangement Syndrome on the Left isn’t limited to Hillary and Chelsea.

    • sonamib

      As an older millenial, let me just point out. that it’s pretty clear the Boomers are the worst generation.

      Sigh.

      Can we please stop talking about generations as if they were a useful classification scheme? Because they’re not. But I’ll grant that it’s an easy way to start a flame war.

      People are born all the time, that’s a continuous phenomenon. Why would anyone want to cut that into arbitrary, discrete, 15 or 20 or whatever years chunks? And of course, it’s done in the worst way : generations aren’t allowed to overlap, so the classification system singles out “special” people, the ones who were born in the middle of their 20 years chunk, and who are thus “more representative” of their arbitrarily assigned generation. And there are ridiculous situations where friends who hang out together all the time, listen to the same music etc., but who were born a few years off each other, are assigned to two different generations.

      The proper way to do it would be to allow generations to overlap, so that everyone is always more or less at the center of at least one generation, and it’s always possible to find one generation in common with people who are a few years older or younger than you (so, no one is special, and there are no weird border effects). As a bonus, people would be less attached to “their” generation, since they’d belong to more than one of those. And we’d get less stupid sweeping generalisations about this or that generation.

  • Gregor Sansa

    One part of this story is the abuse of statistics. If you are going to analyze subgroups (and that include year-to-year changes), you must have something to stop you from simply digging through the data until you find an apparently “significant” result. There are various ways to do that, including explicitly Bayesian models with a prior, or hierarchical models (which can be seen as basically one kind of Bayesian model, even though some of the people who use them don’t like to call themselves Bayesians).

    • Ronan

      ” If you are going to analyze subgroups (and that include year-to-year changes), you must have something to stop you from simply digging through the data until you find an apparently “significant” result”

      But how is that what happened here?

      • Gregor Sansa

        “Answers on question X for the group born between Y and Z changed from year P to year Q” is basically always going to be true for some values of the variables. A properly Bayesian model will posit sensible prior probability that it would be true for any given value of the variables. A hierarchical model, where you learn about the average sizes of intergroup and interyear differences by having several groups and several years, is a simple way to build such a Bayesian model.

        (OK, hierarchical is technically not equivalent to fully Bayesian, but merely to “empirically Bayesian”. Unless your data set is tiny or the number of possible comparisons you’re looking at is huge, this difference is unimportant.)

        • kenjob

          (OK, hierarchical is technically not equivalent to fully Bayesian, but merely to “empirically Bayesian”. Unless your data set is tiny or the number of possible comparisons you’re looking at is huge, this difference is unimportant.)

          Please don’t make this a thing. I have a hard enough time trying to convince my colleagues that they ought to account for their variance structure hierarchically. If they begin to think it’s Bayesian, I may lose the ecologists.

          • Gregor Sansa

            OK. Hierarchical variance structure is totally NOT Bayesian. It’s just the most powerful way to get P values that doesn’t require crippling multiple-comparison corrections. Honest to gosh!

            (More seriously: if I actually had the power to “make this a thing”, then I would also “make it a thing” that people shouldn’t choose their methods based on how they fall on an entirely arbitrary frequentist/Bayesian axis.)

            • kenjob

              From your lips to God’s multi-party electorate.

        • Ronan

          Fair enough. I dont really get it theoretically(but Ill obviously take your word for it)

          • sonamib

            Maybe this classic XKCD comic will help?

            In my field, to avoid this issue, we usually decide on a statistical method to analyse the data before we get a chance to look at it (looking at simulations of the various outcomes is fine). Then, when we do look at the data, we stick to the analysis method we had decided on. There used to be lots of spurious discoveries before we disciplined ourselves like that.

            • sonamib

              Also, our (informal) definition of “discovery” is 5 standard deviations. Which other scientists might find extreme, but for us particle physicists it’s necessary because there are litterally hundreds if not thousands of simultaneous independent analyses going on. If we used a less stringent standard, some of them would turn out “discoveries” just by chance. 3 or even 4 standard deviations are intriguing results which must be followed up on. More often than not they turn out to be spurious.

  • AMK

    It would be far more telling if they asked the opposite question: would you be OK with your wife as the breadwinner while you stayed home as Mr. Mom?

    I suspect more millenials would be comfortable with that than previous generations (though not a majority).

    • Philip

      A friend’s comment on my status linking to the NYT article: ‘These findings feel backwards to me. Like my first thought is “A stay-at-home spouse? In THIS economy??”‘

  • John Revolta

    Speaking of crappy music, the guy that invented the 808 just died.

    I blame him for………………well, just about everything.

    • Hell of a lot of great music made with the 808. The 606 was used on some great music too.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    I dunno, I thought the deal was everybody older than me fucked things up, everybody younger than me just doesn’t care about the right things and neither take me seriously

    • muddy

      I believe you and I are close in age, so you are absolutely correct.

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