In times of crisis, young people often appear disillusioned and somewhat resigned. And the way in which they are perceived by their elders does nothing to improve this quite negative image. Somewhat surprisingly, this edition of the Cetelem Observatory shows that this is not the case. Millennials are an upbeat generation who display a clear-minded enthusiasm, at a time when optimism is blooming once again.
“The youth of today love luxury, they have bad manners, little regard for authority and no respect for their elders… They don’t even stand up when an elderly person enters the room. They answer back to their parents and chat instead of working”.
This harsh critique could almost have been voiced today by one of the over 35s surveyed for the 2018 L’Observatoire Cetelem de la Consommation. And yet, this statement was made several centuries ago. In fact, it was uttered by a pre-eminent sage, the father of moral philosophy: Socrates.
A highly negative perception
What this survey shows is that over 35s hold a very unfavourable opinion of Millennials, highlighting the traditional and often-mentioned generational gap. Materialistic (40%), egocentric (31%), lazy (28%), impatient (29%), immature (31%)… negative epithets abound, painting a picture of a generation who care little about society, are self-centred and narcissistic, and are most accurately summed up by their fondness for selfies.
In Europe, the Hungarians, Slovaks, Romanians and Bulgarians are the most critical, while the French, Belgians, Germans and Brits are the most sympathetic. It is almost as though a country’s level of economic development had a direct impact on perceptions. As though the new generation of Eastern Europeans were unreasonably susceptible, in the eyes of their elders, to the sirens of consumerism.
In total, 88% of the terms used by over 35s to describe Millennials are negative and only 57% are positive. A tiny proportion feel that they are creative (15%), ambitious (15%) and enterprising (13%). The highest praise comes from Norway, while the Hungarians are the most reluctant to see Millennials in a positive light.