Ah, the sadsack life of a Millennial. If you believe every study about this age group, they drink triple-espresso lattes all day and complain about not having enough money to buy a house. Some are so obsessed with avocado toast that they count it as a major food group.

Last month, I wrote about playtesting the Monopoly for Millennials game with people in that generation who mostly felt the pang of familiarity or scoffed at the generational profiling.

Now, a new study by Goodyear and a company called Just Tires found that anyone aged 22 to 37 has a hard time identifying the tire pressure warning light in a car dashboard. About half didn't know what the light means, and most could identify an emoji easier.

What will they discover next, that Millennials hate McDonald's?

I'm sure these studies are commissioned by well-meaning baby boomers. Not every study is intended to enlighten us with a vast array of insights; some, in fact, are trying to get us to think about tires. However, once we're finally ready to stop the Millennial bashing and move on to more important research (say, Gen X phone obsession), there's something to consider.

For starters, why do we care so much?

I asked a few Millenials about the tire pressure light and they said it didn't seem that important in the grand scheme of things. In fact, many don't think about the warning lights that much, mostly because they rarely appear. When they do pop up in the cars I own, I usually don't drive immediately to a service shop. I jump out and look at the tires and check the pressure, sure--then go back to normal life. Most of the time, it's not an emergency. And, most people have a hard time identifying the icon.

It's also not on the top of the list of generational red flags, either. Maybe they are entitled, maybe they don't quite understand the meaning of hard work--I'm not sure, because it really depends on the person you are profiling. What's more alarming is that we seem to be obsessed with what Millennials in general. Another report I've seen tried to explain why Millennials don't know how to do home repairs--it was by a company that does home repairs, of course.

From what I've been hearing, the Millennials bashing has run its course. A while ago. The youngest in this age group have now graduated from college. The oldest have kids, own houses, and are saving for retirement. They are not thinking about tire pressure lights. They are thinking about turning 40. And, the differences between a 22-year-old college grad and a 37-year-old working at a marketing company for 15 years are quite stark.

You can profile them, but the actual takeaways are getting pretty slim. There's not much more to learn from studies like this one. What we really need is some research about the things that matter--how are they going to fit within the workplace long-term? How will they lead others? What will happen when Gen X and Baby Boomers finally cede control?

I'm going to do my part. I want to do a deeper dive into the topics that matter most this year, the challenges this age group faces and how to solve them.

Tire pressure warning lights? It's not exactly a crucial topic.

Published on: Jan 16, 2019
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