Generation X and Millennials: What Are the Cultural Differences?

For decades, people have looked for ways to compare the different generations. You might recall how your grandparents would say things like “Well, OUR generation never had fancy school buses to take us to school — we had to walk 10 miles uphill both ways in the snow!”

Whether you were amused or confused by your grandparent’s declarations about their generation’s superiority, as you have gotten older you have to admit that there are some definite differences between the various age groups.

For example, the Generation X group, which refers to people born between approximately 1965 and 1984 and Millennials, who were born from the mid 1980s to around 1996, have several key cultural differences.


A great place to start looking at the cultural differences between these two generations is in the realm of technology. As Bridge Span notes, the Gen X group acknowledges and accepts the proliferation of technology and uses it every day, and they may have a love/hate relationship with their iPhone or other devices. In essence, they “see” technology and are highly aware of it. On the flip side, Millennials don’t really view technology as something to “see” — it is ubiquitous and omnipresent and, like the very air we breathe, it is vital to their lives. This cultural divide in regards to technology is apparent in the way the generations embrace options to different lifestyle choices; for example, Generation Xers who want to quit smoking traditional cigarettes may realize that using an e-cig or a vape is a decent option, but they may need a bit of time to wrap their heads around the idea of this type of device. Millennials, however, have grown up with so much technology, they don’t think twice about buying a vape and giving themselves a tech-based option for cigarettes.

Attitudes at and About Work

The workplace is another opportunity to really see the differences between these two generations in action. As King University Online notes, Millennial workers thrive in a team setting, they need feedback about their work and they tend to see their supervisors as equals. On the other hand, Generation X workers value their independence and would rather work alone than in a group; they prefer task-based projects and they view promotions as rewards for their hard work and dedication.


In general, Millennials are better educated than the Generation X’ers before them. Approximately four in 10 Millennials have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to about three in 10 Gen Xers when they were the same age, according to Pew Research Center. As an interesting side note, Gen X women were the first to do better than men in terms of education; in 2001, 3 percent more women than men had earned a college degree.

Thoughts on Diversity

For Millennials, diversity is a subject that goes well beyond peoples’ different genders, ages, faiths, physical differences and more. While Generation Xers may feel that the aforementioned definitions sum up diversity quite nicely, Millennials take it a step further and feel that diversity also extends to one’s experiences, opinions and identities.

At the End of the Day, We Are All People

It is always interesting to compare and contrast the various generations, including the cultural differences. While there are noticeable distinctions between the way someone in their mid-40s may approach technology, their workplace attitude and diversity as compared to someone in their mid-20s, when the chips are down, we are all interesting members of the human race who bring our own strengths and weaknesses to the proverbial table.