Why the Hybrid Workforce of the Future Depends on the ‘Geriatric Millennial’
Millennials born between 1980–85 know how to work across generational divides
Editor’s note: Read Erica’s follow-up piece in which she responds to the varied reactions to “geriatric millennial” here.
The first time I heard “geriatric millennial” I thought it was an oxymoron. Sarcastic, even. But as I thought more deeply about it, I realized how perfectly it describes so many of us. Geriatric millennials are a special micro-generation born in the early 1980s that are comfortable with both analog and digital forms of communication. They were the first generation to grow up with technology like a PC in their homes.
If they were slightly older, they would have left college to work for a large corporate company and their career path would have been set in stone. On the other hand, if they were born a couple of years later, the window to create their company would have already passed them by. They make up some of the world’s leading CEOs including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (born in 1984), Canva’s Melanie Perkins (1987), Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian (1983), Rent the Runway’s Jennifer Fleiss (1985), and Airbnb’s Brian Chesky (1981).
I consider myself a geriatric millennial. And let me tell you, we’ve seen things. We’re weathered internet veterans. We survived DailyBooth, Friendster, and Myspace friendship rankings, and yet here we are, feeling incredibly competent at the thought of creating a TikTok or a Clubhouse panel discussion.
I remember the year AOL Instant Messenger was created, and signing up for Facebook when it expanded to a handful of college campuses beyond Harvard; I also remember punch cards, bulky answering machines, and calling collect to have my mom pick me up. By the time social networking rocked the internet, I’d already spent years mastering the physical body language cues and signals I’d learned from face-to-face interactions.
It’s this hands-on experience with pre-digital communication that distinguishes geriatric millennials from the younger set — even though many of us are still under 40 and makes them the linchpins of our changing workplaces. Geriatric millennials can read the subtext of an SMS just as…