'Yes we have our phone on the table at lunch, but it's turned over, not sitting by our knife like an extra piece of cutlery'
Millennials might often get lumped into one brunch-loving, wellness-obsessed, Corbyn-teeshirt-wearing category, but the definition of a Millennial (someone born between 1980 and 2000) actually stretches across a wide range of age groups. And for us ‘old’ or senior Millennials – born in the early to mid 80s – life in this group makes us finally understand the perspective of those elderly people you see at weddings, sitting at a table by the dance floor and quietly wondering why someone doesn’t stick on Sinatra.
Here are the major ways senior Millennials differ from their younger* counterparts:
(*to any old souls in the junior Millennial age group who identify with these points, I apologise, you can sit with us)
1. Yes we have our phones on the table at lunch, but turned over
Out for brunch last weekend (yes obviously), I was distracted by a nearby table of four women in their mid-twenties. There they were, chatting away over their cloud eggs, only to lapse into silence when each simultaneously picked up their phones – positioned by their knife like an extra piece of cutlery – and begin scrolling away for a ten minute interlude. It was like someone had just hit pause on the brunch.
The senior Millennial might pick up their phone when they’re out with friends, but it’s generally with a ‘sorry I just need to let my sister know where the key is’, or to have a quick scroll while waiting for the bill, but total immersion in the middle of a meal, for no urgent reason, is not a thing. Also, if the phone has to be on the table it’s usually turned over.
2. We still phone people (other than our parents) for a catch-up
If there’s a friend we haven’t seen in a while we’ll still ring them for a catch-up. Of course we do this less than our parents – who also have that annoying habit of leaving a voicemail when we’re trying to call them back – but we’re far less likely to count a WhatsApp chat as a chat.
3. We feel marginally less f**ked than our younger counterparts
Most senior Millennials entered the workforce pre-2008/9, giving many of us in this bracket (though not all) a small window of time to find our feet work-wise before economic depression put a death grip on the jobs market. We never take this for granted, or forget how hard things got for those just a few years behind us.
4. We drink quite a lot, actually
What’s all this about Millennials not drinking? The stats suggest our demographic is going off booze, but this is mostly thanks to its younger members. While more than a quarter of 18-24 year olds say they don’t drink at all, the only people in my group of friends who don’t drink socially are pregnant, doing a dry January or running a marathon the following morning.
5. We’re (sometimes) frustrated by the idealism of younger Millennials
We might think the government has sold out people under the age of 30 on virtually all fronts – housing, education, jobs – and thoroughly deserved the drubbing it got in the election, but in general we were more suspicious of Jeremy Corbyn’s election promise of a free-for-all (also, would the crowds at Glasto have cheered him quite so loudly if he’d reminded them he was pro-Brexit?)
Having said that, when the young people of this country do finally snap and rise up to overthrow The Man, we’ll be making the sandwiches.
6. We are the last generation whose teenage girlfriend/boyfriend had to call us on the house phone
And our Dad would answer the phone, repeating the number back, ‘hello 642811?’ I went to an all girls school and didn’t get a mobile phone until I was 16. Before that, it was the house phone or nothing.
7. We’ve only known social media as adults
Even the youngest members of the senior Millennial group were in their early twenties when Facebook and Twitter launched, meaning mainstream social media has only ever been a feature of adulthood (unless you happened to moonlight on MySpace or Bebo – remember Bebo?!) We still shudder at the public damage we could have done if social media had been present during our teenage years, just as junior Millennials are relieved they’re not Digital Natives.
8. We’re a bit more embarrassed about selfies
It’s not that we don’t do them, we’re just not as comfortable with them. We’re amateurs. I recently sat next to a twenty-something woman on the train who spent the entire thirty-minute journey working her way through a tranche of photographs of herself with the focus of a portrait painter, zooming in on FaceTune to widen her eyes a fraction or rub away the tiniest blemish by her nose. She was not f**king about.
9. We think younger Millennials are more responsible and socially conscious than we ever were
When even massive corporations like Coca-Cola are making recycling the theme of their adverts, you know there’s a major sea-change afoot. While a lot of us senior Millennials spent our early twenties enjoying cheap landfill fashion, research suggests Millennials in their early twenties are focused on experiences rather than things (even if this is partly because they want to log it on Instagram.)
10. If we’re honest we don’t completely get Snapchat
We’re on it, but mainly so we can muck about with the filters.