Millennial Masons

In an (archived) Reddit thread on r/freemasonry the hundred dollar question was posed:

‘What do Millennials want from Freemasonry?’

The first comment questioned the question with ‘what is a Millennial ?’

He then signposted us to comedian Adam Conover’s YouTube video

Mind the (generational) Gap

 

As a fully paid up member of Generation X, I really wanted to know more about this because, deserved or not, Millennials have definitely got a bad rap.

They are described as ‘narcissistic’, ‘lazy’, ‘entitled’ ‘snowflakes’ who never look up from their phones and are obsessed with selfies.

They are the ‘me, me, me’ generation who are offended by almost everything.

To add insult to injury, they definitely will never be as cool as Baby Boomers (Mods/Hippies) or Gen X (Punks / Goths / Rude Boys).

But seriously, ‘what is a Millennial’ ? – because most millennials don’t identify as one

Generation defined
IMAGE CREDIT: pewresearch.org

In 2015, the Pew Research Center conducted research regarding generational identity that said a majority of millennials surveyed did not like the ‘millennial’ label [1].

It was discovered that millennials are less likely to strongly identify with the generational term when compared to Generation X or the baby boomers, with only 40% of those born between 1981 and 1997 identifying as millennials.

Among older millennials, those born 1981–1988, Pew Research found that 43% personally identified as members of the older demographic cohort, Generation X, while only 35% identified as millennials.

Among younger millennials (born 1989–1997), generational identity was not much stronger, with only 45% personally identifying as millennials.

It was also found that millennials chose most often to define themselves with more negative terms such as self-absorbed, wasteful, or greedy.’

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennials

According to Jenna Goudreau, writing in Forbes, ‘Millennials are the most highly educated and culturally diverse group of all generations, and have been regarded as hard to please when it comes to employers’. [2]

Aside from cultural diversity, Millennials seem to be more tolerant of unconventional lifestyles than previous generations – they accept far more racial, sexual and gender diversity in society. 

But are they interested in the Craft, and its future?

Which leads us back to the original question –

‘What do Millennials want from Freemasonry ?’

The answers on Reddit were as follows: 

  • ‘The same thing that bros in the 18th and 19th centuries wanted’.

  • ‘Exactly. What does anyone want from Freemasonry?’

  • Quality.

I want to be a part of something special. A tight Brotherhood.

 

  • The same exact thing all brothers came “knocking” for, more light! The same wisdom and guidance that was earned by my grandfather, and his father. 3 generations of 32.

Then we get to the ‘cool esoteric stuff’:

 

  • Every millennial mason I’ve asked has said:
  1. Cool esoteric knowledge and teachings,
  2. Mentorship by quality men, and or
  3. Learn some sween [sic] history and be part of an organization that includes [insert famous 18th century freemason]
  • There is another thread on here which asks a similar question.

    I’m 27 and a brother in Ireland, I joined for a variety of reasons the first being the history attached in the Order globally and in Ireland specifically, Charles Stewart Parnell and Daniel O’Connell (the liberator) were Freemasons.

    Secondly the chance of having an outlet for my spiritual interests, most of my generation, and I say mine meaning specifically in Ireland grew up Catholic and after the scandals here grew disillusioned with organized religion.

    I think millennials are searching for something larger than themselves to be a part of and Freemasonry is a good ethical and moral structure to work within.

    I also joined to meet new people and make new friends as a lot of mine old school and college friends have emigrated, at the time I was hoping there would be more men my own age but I’ve gotten used to being the youngest in my lodge.

    The traditions and esoteric stuff is also a factor and I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on relating to those topics.

 

  • I think it may be one of the few remaining places in the industrialized world where one can find masculine mentorship.

 

  • In this age of single-parent homes, broken families, and bad role models, I think Freemasonry has something to offer in the area of mentorship and (gasp) brotherhood.

The subject turned to age:

 

  • I joined at 23 – so I tend to disagree. Assuming that anyone who’s 19 to their early 20’s can’t be expected to take things seriously or absorb lessons means we shouldn’t let anyone into college until they are 40.

    I think you can argue that there are fewer men that age that have the right temperament, at the time – sure. But to just say they all can’t? It robs us.

 

  • It’s funny. I joined at the exact same age and I guarantee I would have enjoyed it more joining now than at that age.

    It’s not merely the lessons being absorbed or taking things seriously. It’s how valuable your time is where you are in life.

    Your time in college is invaluable. If done well, you experience a lot of success.

    Not the same with Freemasonry.

    And outside of college, men should be career focused for a number of years.

    Adding Freemasonry is adding a stumbling block at a time when you need none.

    We should be accepting men when they are best for us and we are best for them.

 

  • And outside of college, men should be career focused for a number of years.

    Adding Freemasonry is adding a stumbling block at a time when you need none.

    We should be accepting men when they are best for us and we are best for them.

    Let me just toss this out there:

    What one gets out of it will vary according to where you are in life, anyhow.

    At 20 – 30, you want to be focused on building a career, at 30 – 40 you’re more stable and may be focused on your family. Masonry could easily be a distraction at any of those periods.

    For some young guys who don’t have (or are seeking) direction, working through the chairs could actually be a path to self actualization – at least, in a good lodge.

 

  • Masonry could easily be a distraction at any of those periods.

    Here here! [sic] Being distracted from unintentional self sabotage is definitely well placed distraction!

 

  • I joined at 22, and Freemasonry was a great help to my early career.

    I learned a lot of lessons on teamwork, time management, public speaking, etc. through the Lodge that I could apply directly in my job.

    I had a lot of rough edges at that age – I still do – but my interactions at the Lodge helped grind them down in a constructive, supportive environment.

    Blanket statements about the mindset, motivations and abilities of groups of people typically do them a disservice.

    Everyone is different and, while for some the Fraternity isn’t the right fit for their current season of life, for others the Lodge is the right place at the right time.

 

  • I joined at the exact same age and I guarantee I would have enjoyed it more joining now than at that age.

    I think the word to focus on here is “I”. Everyone’s life really boils down to different paths taken and people arrive at things at different stages.

    So for you, that might be true, but to blanket others with the same observation seems out of place.

    Am I a worse Mason because I joined when I did?

    I would argue that it’s given be a very stabilizing force in my life other people lack.

    It’s given me an opportunity to mature in some areas far quicker than I would have otherwise.

    Underestimating young people is a trap that we shouldn’t be falling into.

Wise words indeed.

 

Perhaps we shouldn’t be asking ‘what do Millennials want from Freemasonry?’ but ‘what can Millennials bring to Freemasonry?

What are your thoughts?

Join the debate – leave a comment below or email: editor@thesquaremagazine.com

Footnotes
References

[1]  “Most Millennials Resist the ‘Millennial’ Label”Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. 3 September 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2015

[2]  Goudreau, Jenna. “7 Surprising Ways To Motivate Millennial Workers”

A response to this article was published in September 2021 Issue

Millennial Masons – Response

What is a ‘Millennial’ and what do they want from Freemasonry? You’ll be surprised at the answers.

more….

Millennial Apprentices:
The Next Revolution In Freemasonry

by Samuel Friedman

 

A new generation of American men has begun to enter the fraternity of Freemasonry.

This group of young men belong to the second largest generation in America history.

Known as the millennials, they possess unique motivations and aspirations for the Craft that are quite different from the several generations before them.

This book looks at the current state of Freemasonry, how the Fraternity has arrived at this point and proposes restorations within the Craft that point the way forward into the twenty-first century.

Written by a young and enthusiastic millennial Mason, this book is meant to inspire thought provoking discussion on what this new breed of Mason desires, and what it truly means to be a Mason in the twenty-first century.

 

 

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