It seems like everywhere we turn, millennials are being attacked for something. We spend too much on X or too little on Y. We’ve created Avocado toast and are killing the diamond industry. If a company’s bottom line is bad, or their ratings are tanking you can bet your ass it’s the millennials fault. Our generation is described as self-absorbed, lazy, entitled, in need of participation trophies and nothing short of the worst thing that has happened to the American economy.
But one question that has stuck in my mind is this, “Aren’t many, if not most of the plights laid at the feet of Millennials the cause of other generations?” I don’t mean this as in “this is all your fault Boomers and X’ers!” (though much ink has been spilt in that vein), but more in terms of, aren’t the things most complained about symptomatic of the decisions made by others?
One of the things my older family like to hang over mine and collective Millennials’ heads when arguing is the need for participation trophies. (This usually comes up when I point out some objective truth or ask them an uncomfortable question about racism or white privilege or the President, but I digress). I will freely admit that I believe that I was the recipient of the much-dreaded participation trophy. I stress here believe because I am actually not sure. And that is kinda the point. I remember getting trophies for playing soccer in Kindergarten and First grade, though if I’m honest, I wasn’t much of an athlete then (and now is dicey). But the point being, I didn’t beg and cry and scream for the trophy. They were handed to me. That means that it was parents and coaches that decided that the trophies were necessary. Not us. Many parents could have said no, let them learn and stay hungry for a trophy as encouragement, but alas we all got trophies.
Always on our phones
Many millennials are glued to our phones, and I can be one of them. But in all honesty, you all designed a minicomputer that will keep me in touch with friends and loved ones at a moments notice and store all our pictures and music. That wasn’t something we designed. It would be a bit like older generations complaining that we just don’t read the paper anymore when we installed a new television in the living room. Of course! You made a really cool invention and we aren’t supposed to adapt to using it?
Certainly, there can be some pitfalls in terms of over-usage and the social skills, but again, where were older figures to set appropriate boundaries? Especially as the age of millennials getting phones increasingly got younger.
We take too many selfies/ Are absorbed in Social Media
Though I am not one of the Millennials that takes a million selfies, let me posit one reason we take selfies. WE NEED SOME SELF LOVE BECAUSE EVERYONE IS SHITTING ON US. We have to affirm that we look good because the outside world doesn’t seem all that hospitable to us.
Furthermore, we look to our network of friends and family on Social Media because quite frankly, they are nice and supportive while many aren’t. We crave positive attention because we are constantly told we are to blame.
The list goes on and on.
But how about we take a deep breathe and have a conversation about why things are the way they are. Millennials can give you their lived experience on things.
We are more likely to rent because we already have too many student loan debts.
We have student loan debts because we are told we need an education to succeed and most jobs require college (and a million years of experience and a sacrificial goat)
We like crazy food (read avocado bread) because we so often have so little money that its small luxuries like this that give us pleasure.
We don’t take vacations because we have no money (see above), have jobs with limited time off and also have multiple jobs.
So please, before shitting on Millennials, be prepared to have a conversation with them about why things are the way they are. There are real issues, like the lack of good trade schools, lack of good jobs, the housing market and climate change and social justice. It isn’t that millennials don’t care, but that we see things differently.