8 Ways Younger Millennials Communicate That Older Millennials Don’t Get

by Kaitlyn Wylde

When comparing the ways our parents grew up communicating and the way we all grew up communicating, it seems like their generation and ours grew up in a different world. The technology our parents grew up with was so basic, it's ancient in comparison to the plethora of communication resources us millennials have now. But even within our millennial generation, there's a vast divide: Innovation has picked up speed over the last few decades, and while it's a very exciting time to be alive, it means that we have less in common with people who may have been born later in the millennial generation — for instance, in the later '90s as opposed to the mid-'80s. There are so many ways older millennials and younger millennials communicate differently. For instance: Some of us grew up with AIM while some of us grew up with iPhones! And while the difference might sound nominal, it actually changes the way we develop communication skills and interact with each other.

Those few years that separate the two millennial groups — one half were already teens of the world by the early '00s while the other half were only young children then — push them farther apart than you'd think. The older millennials were born between 1981 and 1992 and the younger millennials were born in the between 1993 and 1996. And while the difference is less than a handful of years, there are generations of social media updates and technological models between them.

At the rate technology is moving, by the time the younger millennials are the same age as their parents, their direct message conversations will be as ancient as letter writing. Here are a few ways in which the older millennials and younger millennials differ in terms of the way they communicate from each other.

Public Conversations Vs. DMs

The older millennials grew up when the Facebook wall was still a thing. When we wanted to talk to our friends via social media, we'd make a public post for all to see. We were happy to share our interactions and details of our lives with the public. But the younger millennials grew up with a different version of Facebook that was much more discrete. They're much more aware of their personal brand and would be less likely to make casual public declarations on their pages. When the older millennials joined Facebook, they had probably never considered the concept of social media as a personal brand before.

Instant Message Vs. Messenger

Older millennials grew up with AOL Instant Messenger, a chat platform that we'd sign onto for hours a night to do nothing but talk to each other. Younger millennials will have a messenger window opened on one tab while they do work and a million other tasks in the other, meaning they're rarely paying full attention to the conversation they're having, because they're also online shopping, reading an article, drafting an email, and looking through a gallery.

Email Vs. Text

Older millennials grew up seeing emails as romantic and adult ways to have meaningful digital communication. We'd sit down at our computers and spend a long time writing a well-thought out message in a special font and with various paragraphs. Writing emails back and forth was like having a pen pal. Because an immediate response wasn't expected, it gave us time to savor them. But new millennials have less time for email. They're less patient when it comes to communication and like to get correspondences dealt with ASAP — they'd rather text, it just makes more sense to them.

Phone Calls Vs. FaceTime

Once upon a time. I used to spend hours talking on the phone a day. Now, I have phone anxiety and literally freak out when someone calls me. Whether you're an old millennial or a new millennial, you've probably caught yourself feeling incredulous when a friend decided to call in stead of text. The new millennials have changed phone etiquette, calling is for emergencies, FaceTime is for keeping up with friends and texting is always ideal.

Photo Albums Vs. Disappearing Snaps

Older millennials used to carry around cameras and take up to 50 pictures of a single social outing and post them all online, happy to share every moment, whether the pictures or flattering or in focus or not. Younger millennials are curators. They'll pick one picture from an important event, and only if it's on brand, well-lit, and flattering. Casual, improperly lit photos are for disappearing Snaps or Instagram stories for the younger crew, they have no interest in being haunted by their less than remarkable captures.

Note-Writing Vs. Gchat

Older millennials grew up passing notes to their friends when they wanted to gossip during the day. Getting a note passed to you was an exciting thing, and the extra bit of social interaction in your otherwise stressful day was bliss. Younger millennials are used to being socially connected 24/7. Instead of passing notes, they use messengers like Gchat, Slack, or Facebook Messenger to chat all day, sending each other links and gossip tidbits throughout the workday.

LiveJournal Vs. Blogs

Older millennials grew up blogging, but back then blogs weren't these public platforms for beautiful fonts and ad revenue. They were these low-key little digital journals that we'd write in without much discretion. We were open and honest and emotional because we weren't trying to sell ourselves or curate our image. Newer millennials still blog, but they're a bit more professional about it and many of them even monetize their blogs. The biggest difference is that the older crew was writing for their friends, while the younger crew is writing for their followers.

Friend Vs. Follow

Older millennials connected with people they knew on social media, but there was still a fair element of stranger danger, even in chat rooms. You'd only "friend" people you knew. But younger millennials are much more open to interacting with their online communities due to the fact you can now "follow" someone on different platforms that don't reveal as much personal information.