Guess Who's Most Civil? Millennials!

We're used to thinking of them as selfish, and coming back home to roost.

But Millennials are more hopeful than we are about civility in society.

According to, "Although Americans are unanimous about the bleak state of civility, the Millennial generation seems less convinced of a more uncivil future. Nearly one in four Millennials (23 percent) – two to four times the percentage of other generations – believe civility will improve in the next few years. In their relatively short lifetimes, Millennials have experienced more uncivil behavior than any other generation, yet they are America’s most hopeful adults when it comes to tomorrow’s civility"

Who knew?

“The Millennial generation – 83 million people strong – is an economic and game-changing powerhouse that outnumbers the generations that came before it,” the Web site quotes Jack Leslie, chairman of Weber Shandwick. “The only adult generation to have grown up with cyber-bullying is also the only generation to have a native understanding of the power of a digitally connected world to change things for the better. Observing how Millennials overcome the challenges of eroding civility may suggest how our society can lay the groundwork for a more civil future.”

 More than half of Millennials (56 percent) and Gen Xers (55 percent) say the Internet and social media are making civility worse, ranking them as the top sources of blame. Politicians, in contrast, top the list of incivility drivers for Boomers and the Silent Generation. Millennials and Gen Xers likely point fingers at the Internet because these are the cohorts that came of age during the formative years of the Internet and social media and by default, have been more exposed to both.

Seven in 10 Americans agree that the Internet encourages uncivil behavior. This view is held by all generations though Millennials are somewhat more likely to agree (74 percent). Millennials, the heaviest users of social media, are also significantly more likely than other generations to consider the medium uncivil. This is likely because they encounter more online incivility in an average week than Americans overall (5.1 times per week vs. 3.5) and are the biggest victims of cyber-bullying (43% vs. 24%).

Believe it or not, one-third of Millennials (33 percent) report taking a proactive measure the last time they experienced incivility, a rate significantly higher than those of Gen Xers (22 percent), Boomers (18 percent) and the Silent Generation (7 percent). Millennials were most likely to have defended the victim of incivility (16 percent), a possible trend that could grow in time.

 Millennials also deal with incivility online. Approximately half have flagged or reported a comment or post as inappropriate (53 percent) and defriended, blocked or hidden someone because of uncivil behavior or comments (52 percent). Says Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse. “If all Americans were to behave as proactively, we would be one step towards turning our nation back to a more civil environment.”


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