Two-thirds of millennials don't actually use that word to identify themselves, according to a new poll.
The Public Religion Research Institute poll, released Friday, shows only 34 percent of 18-to-35 year olds self-identify using the term. But those who do are more likely to be college graduates (47 percent), liberal (43 percent), active on social social media (48 percent for Twitter users and 51 percent for Tumblr) and Asian-Pacific Islanders (45 percent).
According to Google Trends, the term took off in 2013 (the maligned Time magazine cover about the "me me me generation" came out that May), and it's now used more than ever.
There has been a lot of hand-wringing over the word, stemming from its use as shorthand for everything that's wrong with society today (selfies, social media, underemployment, fear of commitment, blah, blah, blah) and the fact that speaking broadly about a diverse group of millions of people isn't always effective. It can easily come across as a descriptor used only by outsiders -- "olds" who don't "get" what "the kids" are "up to" these days. For two-thirds of 18-to-35 year olds who don't call themselves "millennials," that might be the case.
Of course, like the selfie itself, it also could evolve and become accepted. Selfies, once widely decried as evidence that our rising generation was self-obsessed and awful, are now an everyday part of life. Even the White House opted against its proposed selfie ban. Today, the continued rise in the use of "millennial," along with the fact that college graduates, many who work or will work in media, advertising and other fields that play a big role in driving culture, are the group that uses the phrase more than any other. So things can change!
Whether or not that becomes the case, the argument against the word just got some compelling evidence that works in its favor. If most #millennials don't call themselves #millennials, are they really #millennials?
Editor's note: For the record, this post was written and edited by millennials who embrace the term -- and your scorn.