This years award for the Best Name of the Century So Far for a Business, Service, Product or Group of People goes to bright lights Neil Howe and William Strauss who are credited with naming the generation born between 1982 and 2004, “The Millennials.” Now, they did that awhile back, but names need time to ripen, and develop a patina of respect and relevance, so this award can only be given at least two years after the name is launched. My rules.
The Tea Party was pretty good for about four months. It conjured up a simpler time when all you had to do to achieve freedom from monopolies and powdered wigs was throw tea into a harbor. But that group got over taken over by illiterate open carry Bubba’s, so that name stopped representing our fond memories of the Founders and our noble, over mythologized revolt.
Twitter is OK, except it feels awfully trite. Facebook is OK. Except it would be better named Catbook or WhatI’mEatingbook. ISIS is terrible as it’s also called IS, ISIL, SIC, and Da’ish. That’s like being named Richard and everybody calls you Rich, Richie, Ricky or Dick. And Da’ish sounds like something you dunk in coffee.
Nope, this year’s award is for “Millennial.” Never has the name of one group of people without a ton of money in their pockets caused so much study and consternation. Just Google the term and see that there are over 6.5 million results. Articles and essays about who they are, what they think, buy, wear, travel, party, live, drink, smoke, work, talk, have sex, with whom, how and where.
And it’s all in the name. The “Millennials.” Visionary. Utopian. Brilliant! Here’s how well it works:
Let’s say Frodo Baggins, needing answers to the mystery of the Ring, asks Gandolf, “What does the Ring mean to our future?’ And Gandalf answers in his deep stentorian tone as the orchestra music swells… “You must seek the wisdom of The Milllennnials.”
Damn! Impressive. The Millennials! A group named after the passage of one thousand years! Holy shit! They must know a ton! I’ll go see those guys! That’s how important a good name is.
It wouldn’t be nearly as impressive if Gandalf said instead…“You must seek the wisdom of the Baby Boomers.”
Who the hell are they? A bunch of midgets little people with slingshots? And how would it sound if he said, “You must seek the wisdom of Generation X.” What the hell happened there? A whole generation got stuck with the store brand! It’s like in the naming meeting, the CEO , exhausted after a day of naming things, said, “Ah, hell there aren’t that many of them anyway. Call them Generation X. We’ll figure it all out closer to the launch.” And then no one scheduled that meeting.
Everybody born before 1982 is trying to figure out how a group who are essentially just “Younger People” could take up so much space in the babble-sphere. But what if Gandalf had said, “You must seek the wisdom of the Younger People.” Frodo would’ve never left the Shire. “Screw them. They don’t know shit!”
But call them Millennials? Why it positively puts you on your heels. You have to be careful how you talk to them. You are desperate for their approval, their acceptance, as they have the wisdom of one thousand years! You can make good money just studying them.
Brilliant! Winner! Millennial! The 2015 Best Name of the Century So Far Award! And it’s going to hold for a while, as the ones behind them just got named Generation Z. It’s like the namers blew it out with Millennials, only took ten minutes to name the ones born after 2004, and gave them the letter at very end of the damned alphabet! The letter that owns the fewest pages in the dictionary! A letter that spells things you don’t want much of: Zits, zucchini, and zombies. Generation Z! The End of the Road! Fini! What are the namers trying to tell us?
I’m going to have to seek the wisdom of The Millennials.