This post may contain affiliate links that earn me a small commission, at no cost to you. As always, I only recommend links I personally use and love!
Millennials are often viewed as pioneers of modern trends, from the sharing economy to work-life balance advocacy. However, a closer look reveals they popularized many concepts that existed long before them. While adaptable and influential, much of what millennials tout as new thinking has foundations rooted in history.
Spirituality Without Religion
Seeking spiritual meaning outside of organized religion may seem millennial-led. But disillusionment with institutional doctrines and desire for inclusive spirituality date back centuries.
Binge-watching the latest streaming series is a favorite millennial pastime. However, on-demand entertainment services have evolved from 80s video rental stores and 90s DVRs.
Millennials are known for valuing experiences over possessions, leading to the rise of the “experience economy.” However, the idea of seeking life experiences, such as travel or cultural immersion, has been a human pursuit for centuries. The difference is that millennials have the platforms to share and commercialize these experiences more widely.
The sharing economy, with platforms like Airbnb and Uber, is often seen as a millennial innovation. But the concept of shared resources and community-based consumption, like carpooling or community gardens, has been practiced for decades. Millennials have just leveraged technology to scale and monetize these ideas on a global platform.
The gig economy expanded with millennials, but people have always had side hustles to earn extra income.
Millennials advocate for gender equality in new ways, but efforts like women’s suffrage began generations before them.
Plant-based diets align with millennial values, but vegetarianism and veganism have long histories in many cultures.
The Digital Revolution
Millennials grew up during the rise of the internet, smartphones, and social media. While they were early adopters and influencers in these realms, they didn’t invent them. The foundational work for the internet, for instance, began way before they were born.
While many millennials are passionate about sustainability and eco-friendly practices, the environmental movement has roots in the 1960s and 1970s, long before they came onto the scene.
Millennials often get credit for prioritizing work-life balance. However, the desire for a balanced life has been a human pursuit for ages; millennials just have new platforms to voice it.
The Gig Economy
Platforms like Uber, Airbnb, and Fiverr might seem like millennial inventions, but the concept of freelancing and side hustles has been around for decades.
The minimalist trend, especially in fashion and home decor, is often associated with millennials. Yet, minimalism as a concept and design principle has been around since the mid-20th century.
Craft Beer and Artisanal Food
While millennials have certainly contributed to the boom in craft beer and artisanal foods, these industries have historical roots going back centuries.
Activism and Social Justice
Millennials are vocal about social issues, but they stand on the shoulders of previous generations who fought for civil rights, gender equality, and more.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a surge in remote work, often associated with millennial preferences. However, telecommuting has been around since the 1970s.
From Netflix to Blue Apron, subscription services are booming. But the model itself? Magazines and newspapers have used it for ages.
Brands like H&M and Zara are staples for many millennials, but the concept of rapidly produced affordable fashion has its origins in the post-WWII era.
Platforms like Kickstarter have popularized crowdfunding, but the idea of pooling resources for a common goal is an age-old practice.
Open Office Spaces
Millennials are often blamed (or credited) for open office designs. In reality, the concept was introduced in the 1950s in Germany.
Mental Health Awareness
Millennials are more open about discussing mental health, but the movement to de-stigmatize mental illnesses began in earnest in the 20th century.
Why Gen X Is Secretly Laughing at Both Boomers and Millennials
Why Gen X Thinks They’re the Last ‘Real’ Generation
Is Gen X the Only Generation That Knows How to Take a Joke?
Michelle Harler is the founder of Guide2Free, a website dedicated to finding and sharing freebies, product testing opportunities, and other ways to save money. With over a decade of experience in the industry, her expertise in finding quality offers makes Guide2Free an invaluable resource for anyone looking to try new products and save money.