Photo by Fuse, via Getty Images.
Groucho Marx once said that he wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would accept him as a member. I feel a similar skepticism about being part of a club I never asked to join. But my 1983 birth makes me a reluctant member of what demographers and marketers now call “millennials.” Like every generation, our predecessors say we’re spoiled and self-absorbed—Time magazine called us the “Me Me Me Generation.” History may one day overlook our supposed heroic self-regard and need for safe spaces, but for now the cliché of being over-parented, over-schooled, and over-protected isn’t completely off base.
The millennial mindset
We never had a summer of ’67, where we tuned in and dropped out, nor a May of ’68 or a March of ’89, where we seriously challenged societal order. Instead, we were weaned on self-esteem culture and entered adulthood amidst the collapsing scenery of the Great Recession. As economic late bloomers, wedelayed home-ownership, marriage, and children. We moved to cities, and spent our first decade’s harvest on experiences: travel, careerist-festivals (SXSW, Art Basel, TEDx), second-wave artisanal coffee, but not stuff (and notgolf either, for some reason). We traded boomer materialism for a new kind of lifestyle consumerism. On the art scene, we socialized, gossiped, and Instagrammed, but never actually bought many pictures. Until now. Anew survey of high-net-worth collectors by U.S. Trust reveals that our latency period is finally ending. Millennials are settling down, finding our financial footing, and beginning to collect.