Are you a geriatric millennial? The term that is dividing a generation
An unwound cassette tape sits on a red and yellow background. (Pexels)
TORONTO -- It’s too simple to say that millennials are used to negative press, but between being blamed for ruining several industries and being the butt of many jokes by generation X and generation Z, it’s an age group that feels like it’s them against the world.
Now a new term is causing a divide within the millennial generation itself: geriatric millennials.
The term first exploded in popularity after author and teamwork expert Erica Dhawan referred to it in a Medium article on April 21. She described geriatric millennials as those born between 1980 and 1985. As is the case with many things that become quickly popular on various social media platforms, some people loved it and a lot of people did not.
Geriatric millennials, as defined by Dhawan, are a generation within a generation, or a micro-generation. They had a very different childhood than some of the younger millennials, in terms of technology, at least. To put it in perspective, a young millennial this year would be 25 years old, where a geriatric millennial would be entering their 40s.
To put it differently, the internet’s official birthday is January 1, 1983. So there are some millennials who were born during an internet-less time, and the internet for the 1980s was very different from the beast we’ve come to know.
These geriatric millennials came of age on the internet in the world of ICQ and AOL instant messengers, the screeching and bonking sounds of connecting to dial-up, and the disappointment of being disconnected when someone picked up a landline phone to make a call.
They were also a very offline age group. Having a cellphone growing up was unlikely, connecting to the internet was slow and loud, tech was still big and heavy and not really intended for carrying around comfortably.
The term aims to describe millennials who didn’t grow up immersed in technology and social media, but came to get used to it, and got good at it, as it became available to them. Unlike younger millennials and generations who were exposed to social networking at much younger ages and grew up in a world guided by being online.
While it’s become buzzworthy online in the last week, there were already other terms used to describe older millennials, like Cuspers or Xennials, because of their close proximity in age to Generation X. Some Twitter users have offered other names like: Oregon Trail Generation or Elder Millennials.
It does raise questions about the use of the term “geriatric,” particularly in pregnant people who are over 35 years old. When Beyonce was pregnant with her twins it was considered a geriatric pregnancy. Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is on her second geriatric pregnancy. Neither seem particularly geriatric. Both are also geriatric millennials.
While the term continues to be having its moment online, there are people on both sides. Some have been waiting for this moment to move into senior citizenship, while others are not so reluctant to go. Either way you feel about it, you can probably postpone calling your local geriatrician for a few decades.