Poor millennials. The world can’t seem to decide what they are. They’ve been Gen X, Gen Y, xennialls, the Oregon Trail generation (what?), and more. Now, older millennials have earned a new nickname “Geriatric Millennials.” But what is a Geriatric Millenial and where does the name come from?
Butt of the Joke
Millennials have had to contend with a lot. Is there anyone who hasn’t made fun of them? They get flak from the boomers. They get grief from Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z. People say they’re lazy and entitled, that they’re obsessed with things like avocado toast, Disney, parting their hair in the middle, the laughing emoji, and portrait mode.
Millennials have been accused of sorting themselves into Harry Potter houses, overusing the word “doggo,” and complaining about “adulting.” God, what awful people, right? I kid. (But I really don’t like the doggo thing, that’s pretty annoying.)
Bottom line, millennials get dragged all over the place. So, do we really need to start calling them geriatric millennials? And where exactly did this unfavorable designation come from?
What Is a Geriatric Millennial?
Although it isn’t clear where “geriatric millennial” originated, its recent popularity can be credited to writer and teamwork expert Erica Dhawan. Dhawan wrote an online article, published on April 21, called “Why the Hybrid Workforce of the Future Depends on the ‘Geriatric Millennial.’” In the piece, she says older millennials are the best choices to lead hybrid workforces, because they’re essentially a bridge between the digital and analog worlds, and they have expertise in both areas.
“Geriatric millennials can read the subtext of an SMS just as well as they can pick up on a client’s hesitation in their facial expressions during an in-person meeting,” Dhawan explained in her article. “They are neither ignorant of technology nor so engrossed in it that a voicemail inspires fear.”
Dhawan pointed out that some of the world’s most successful CEO’s are geriatric millennials, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian, Airbnb’s Brian Chesky, and Rent the Runway’s Jennifer Fleiss. All of them were born between 1980 and 1985. Dhawan also mentioned Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, but Perkins was born in 1987, luckily missing the precious window to be called geriatric.
Dhawan said she’s a geriatric millennial as well. She said she remembers when AOL Instant Messenger and Facebook were both new on the scene. But she also remembers “punch cards, bulky answering machines, and calling collect.”
“By the time social networking rocked the internet,” she wrote, “I’d already spent years mastering the physical body language cues and signals I’d learned from face-to-face interactions.”
Dhawan didn’t mean any harm with her article, but I don’t know anyone who would feel good about being called geriatric. Could there be another term that would be more palatable to the most maligned generation?
Vice points out that after Dhawan’s article went viral, Medium conducted a poll on Twitter to ask users for alternatives to geriatric millennial. Second place went to “Seasoned Millennials” with 28% of the vote. That was followed by “Millennial Emeritus,” then “Preeminent Millennials” with only 10% of the vote.
Which term got the most votes by far?