I’m an introvert and a millennial. Those two labels come with a lot of baggage. People love to poke fun at millennials for our supposedly sheltered childhoods and entitled nature. Introverts get just as much flak. By far the most pervasive and annoying stereotype that both millennials and introverts share is that we are socially inept.
So, if you’re like me, and you happen to be both introverted and born between the years 1982 to 2004, popular opinion dictates that you’re pretty much screwed in the social department.
Let’s start with the millennial social stereotypes…
The Millennial Socialsapien
Articles like this one propose that millennials are “the most socially awkward and socially inept generation in modern history”. This description brings to mind images of skinny jean-clad homosapiens warming themselves by the blue light of their smart phones.
Researchers gawk at the millennial’s newly invented language of emojis and acronyms, which we’re too lazy or stupid to bother capitalizing: lmao, bae, lol, yolo, fomo, wtf, brb.
If you try to speak to us, we won’t even look up from our phone long enough to make eye contact. “Just text it to me,” we murmur, while simultaneously Snap Chatting, scrolling our Instagram feed, and leaving an angry Trip Advisor review for that vegan gastronomy restaurant we tried last night (OMG my gluten free pasta was NOT al dente, SO disappointing!!)
The Introverted Hermit
And if you believe the introvert stereotypes, the interaction wouldn’t even get that far. We’re all at home hiding from other humanoids beneath a tower of books. We refuse to talk to anyone except our beloved pets: Artemis the cat, and Lord Serpentis the iguana.
The only other relationships we’ve had are with electronic devices. We’re great at turning on our iPhone and MacBook. Humans, not so much.
Being either a millennial or an introvert is cause enough for the baby boomers and Gen Xers to get out their pitchforks. Being both is like committing social suicide when you’re already dead (yeah, that’s my dark millennial humour coming out #sorrynotsorry).
Like any stereotype, the idea that introverts and millennials lack social skills is based in some truth, misguided as it may be. It’s true that introverts may socialize less than extroverts. But that doesn’t mean we’re clueless about how to engage with others.
Introverts tend to be thoughtful and conscientious. We actually do care a lot about people’s feelings. We try our best to be polite in conversation, listening carefully to what the other person has to say, without interrupting.
Although, we may find socializing draining, we know that it is a skill that can be honed like any other. Plenty of introverts develop such dazzling social skills that people automatically assume we’re extroverts, again, perpetuating the stereotype that introverts can’t be social.
Phone Addictions at Every Age
As for the infamous smart phone—sure, there are some introverts who look at their phones a smidge too often while socializing. Just like there are some extroverts, millennials, Gen Xers, and baby boomers who have an unhealthy phone addiction.
I once shared an Uber with a couple of Gen Xers who spent the entire ride engrossed in an HQ quiz. They exited the car and entered a restaurant without even once looking up from their phones. It’s not just millennials, y’all! Just sayin.
I personally make a point of not using my phone when I’m with other people. I also know and respect the difference between real life relationships and social media interactions…
I use social media to get followers and credibility. I use real life relationships to get validation and potential pet sitters for Artemis and Lord Serpentis.
Younger Millennials vs. Older Millennials
One thing I don’t get about millennial stereotypes is that the label covers a massive age range. It’s ridiculous to think that everyone in a generation spanning two decades is equally socially awkward.
There is a definite divide between the younger and older millennials. I should know because I’m right on the cusp of that divide. I was born in 1984, so I don’t identify with comedian Bill Maher’s description of “a generation who has lived their entire lives through a screen.”
I grew up with dial-up internet that was slow AF and didn’t have a cell phone until college. Back then we were so analog that we didn’t type acronyms, we spelled them out with our fingers:
Even I find myself rolling my eyes at younger millennials. But the moment I start to underestimate the little sh*ts, they do something cool, like invent a dating app for shy types or make neat pictures in my latte foam. Just kidding…I don’t drink coffee, because I’m an introverted millennial and I have a sensitive nervous system.
But you get the idea: Older millennials are capable of great social skills. Younger millennials are capable of great social apps. We all add value to the world!
Seriously, though, I’ve met some pretty fly younger millennials who are socially adept. Contrary to popular belief, they do know how to make eye contact and have interesting conversations.
In fact, one thing I truly appreciate about younger millennials is their ability to cut through the B.S. and talk about stuff that we’re both into, like the arts, our dreams and aspirations, our gluten sensitivities, and how our un-woke parents screwed up our lives.
Maybe we’re not so great at connecting with older generations, but we’ve already taken all their jobs or invented technology to make them redundant. So, who cares about those old farts, anyway? Socializing is about connecting, and introverted millennials do know how to connect with our tribe.
Get Woke to The Social Evolution
Sure, some people might still think we’re socially inept. I like to think we’re socially evolved. We’re the new generation of small talk-averse, internet savvy introverted millennials who refuse to settle for mediocre interactions.
We know that the best friendships begin with an app and gain strength with every shared pot of sustainably grown, fair trade, non-GMO organic coffee (decaf for me, of course 🙂 ).
BTW, while you’re here, be sure to check out my new book The Year of the Introvert: A Journal of Daily Inspiration for the Inwardly Inclined.
Over to you
Are you an introverted millennial? Share your thoughts on this article in the comments below! 🙂
Lots of love,