Winter 2018 TRENT Magazine Preview/Editorial: The X, Y, Z of Generational Myths

TRENT Magazine Fall 2017 cover.We're hard at work putting together the winter edition of TRENT Magazine -- featuring, among other things, a few pieces that will examine the cultural/employment landscape that Millennial grads currently inhabit. Some stories to look forward to:

  • Dalal Al-Waheidi '98 writes about the global youth movement and the WE movement
  • Adam Hopkins '03 examines population growth in Indigenous communities
  • Kate MacIsaac '04 tackles Millennials and mental health
  • Jenna Pilgrim '12 writes a piece that dispelling Millennial myths
  • A special spread on employment/job seeking trends, as well as success stories from twenty and thirty-something grads.

While you’re waiting, be sure to the Fall 2017 edition of TRENT Magazine. Stories include:

  • A critical view of Canada 150, with essays by Trent Professor Emeritus Dr. John Wadland, and alumna artist, entrepreneur, and activist Teyotsihstokwathe Dakota Brant '06.
  • The Right Honorable Paul Martin's convocation message to graduating students.
  • A visit to arctic waters with alumnus Trevor Corkum '94, as part of the Canada C3 expedition to all three of Canada's coasts.
  • An excerpt from The Lost Diaries of Susanna Moodie by Cecily Ross '83.
  • A view of Peterborough amidst the Provincial housing bubble by alumnus and faculty member, Dr. Tom Phillips '74.

The following is a look ahead to our Winter edition editorial by managing editor, Donald Fraser '91:

The X, Y, Z of Generational Myths

TRENT Magazine editor Donald Fraser's cupcake.

TRENT Magazine editor Donald Fraser's very Instagrammable cupcake.

I believe it was Alumni Affairs staffer Sarah Carthy ’13 who first called me “The World’s Oldest Millennial.” I was in the process of Instagramming a cupcake (yes, I instagrammed a cupcake!) when Sarah, herself a Millennial, laughed and said “you’re worse than me!”

Here’s the thing, though: there’s really no “worse than” here. I felt no shame in Instagramming my über-cute pastry – and I felt no shame in being called a Millennial. Actually, that’s happened a few times. The “old” part, however, did kind of sting a bit.

Forget about what the media tells us – which is that Millennials are ruining, well… everything. Ignore the memes about avocado toast, selfies, and snowflakery. Take all those stories about a lack of ambition and stuff ‘em in your artisanal mason jar mugs. Millennials are just like any generation: struggling to keep up with rapidly changing times, and completely and utterly misunderstood by many of the oldsters that came before them. And like all generations, they take all kinds of needless heat for having to survive the increasingly complex and demanding world that they were born into. Meanwhile, we’re more than happy to appropriate their food trends (brunch anyone?), their technological trends (hello, Instagram!), and their culture (if you’re listening to a pop/rock song on CBC Radio 2, there’s a good chance you’re listening to a Millennial artist).

I remember being a young Generation X grad. I remember the media painting us all with the same plaid, flannel brush. We were Prozac-popping slackers who didn’t want to work and would spend the rest of eternity living in our parent’s basements. Never mind the early 90s recession. Never mind the massive employment shadow of the Boomer Generation. Never mind that all most of us could find after university was a “McJob.” We were branded as adrift, apathetic, and cynical. These were the labels we wore into a nearly non-existent job market.

As it turns out, we did just fine.

Since then, I’ve found that most clichés thrown around about generations usually say more about those perpetuating them than they do about the subjects themselves. Millennials are snowflakes? If by snowflake you mean hyper-aware of racial, cultural, and gender-based inequalities in language and action, then yes; besides, a generational behaviour trend does say a lot about a generational trend in parenting. Millennials are social media junkies? According to the fine folks at Neilson, my generation has them beat on an hours of social media per week basis, with Boomers being not that very far behind them. That they’d rather buy fancy coffees than save for a house? With the average house price in major Canadian cities hovering around a million dollars, how on earth can young workers realistically hope to buy real estate? What’s more, why would they want to?

In this edition of TRENT Magazine, we’re looking to the landscape that our Millennial alumni have graduated into. We’re going to delve into the job market, into trends in mental health, and into volunteerism – all through the eyes of young, successful alum. Oh, and we’re going to dispel a few myths along the way.

Most importantly, we’re going to learn a few things. No, not about kale, kombucha, or selfie sticks, but about how twenty and thirty-somethings are going to help shape our future.

Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it. And then share it on Facebook and Twitter. You know… like those darned Millennials would.


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