When this editor thinks of millennials, he usually incorrectly pictures Gen Y: kids who are still in college or just entering the workforce. But the New York Times talked to a bunch of millennials in their 40s — millennials are reaching middle age. One woman they talked to said she didn’t fear a midlife crisis because “my whole adult life has been one long crisis.”

We don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, but the Times writes:

This isn’t what middle-class millennials thought midlife would be like. Our childhoods were marked by an unusually high level of prosperity in the United States and the expectation that such stability would continue.

When William Strauss and Neil Howe published a best seller in 2000 called “Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation,” they remarked that millennials were “kids who’ve never known a year in which America doesn’t get richer.” They described an “upbeat,” “optimistic” and diverse set of Americans coming of age.

While they acknowledged that a crisis might hit this generation and cause its “familiar millennial sunniness” to “turn sour,” they predicted that as they reached midlife, millennials would be more traditional — reversing “the trend towards later marriage and childbirth.” They also predicted that millennials would be more socially and politically cohesive, rejecting the “cultural wedge issues of the late 20th century,” unlike their Gen X and boomer predecessors. They said that income and class disparities would narrow.

What the authors could not foresee was that there wouldn’t be just one crisis. There would be a series of cascading crises, starting the year after their book was published. There was the fallout from the dot-com bubble burst; then there was Sept. 11, followed by the Great Recession in 2008; then came the political chaos of increasing polarization, the specter of climate change and finally, the Covid pandemic.

Ah yes, the specter of climate change.

Are they so soft because they grew up in prosperity? Give us “the silent generation” over this bunch of whiners.


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