Before we begin, let’s just get this out of the way: everyone hates the term “Millennials”, alright? ESPECIALLY Millennials. It’s abhorrent, it’s grating—I don’t even know why, it just is. HOWEVER, it is the easiest way to refer to the group of people I will be discussing today, those of us born roughly between 1980 and 2000. Perhaps there is an easier way to group us all together but I’m too lazy to find it, so for all intents AND purposes (see what I did there? Learn something) we will be using the word “Millennial”. Brace yourselves accordingly.
I have seen a LOT of discourse about the Millennial generation and all of “our” problems. How we’re entitled and self-obsessed, how technology has ruined our social skills, how we’re fixated on what our friends think of us, how we’re jeopardizing the economy because we’re spending money on experiences rather than letting it rot in a savings account (I believe that’s a direct quote from Forbes magazine), blah blah blah. Honestly sometimes I’m like why is everyone so OBSESSED with us *cue Mariah track* but like seriously wtf? Nevertheless, it feels like everyone’s trying to “figure us out”. As if we’re some new brand of species that baby boomers didn’t birth and raise themselves. *eye roll emoji*
The biggest problem I have with all of this talk about What’s Wrong with Millennials is the idea that these issues are relegated to Millennials. ESPECIALLY when we start talking about the influence of technology. Sure, we grew up with the fastest acceleration in technological advancement ever or something, but the idea that technology itself ruins the ability to forge relationship is poppycock. In fact, I wrote an entire blog about it with regards to dating that you can check out here! #shamelessplug. I don’t think technology causes relational issues, I think it reveals incapacities for healthy relationship that are already there. I’ll get more into that in a second, but my point for right now is: all these problems we’re labeling “Millennial-specific” might actually just be “Human-specific”. And saddling us with the onus of it is horseshit.
For example: Millennials are entitled. This is probably the one I hear the most. It also serves as the springboard for a whole host of other accusations levied against us, such as our inherent inability to take criticism, or defiant refusal to start at the bottom of the totem pole because we think we know better than everyone. Legend has it that when we were little, too many adults told us we were special, so now we’ve grown up thinking that because we’re special, we deserve everything without working for anything. And like, OKAY, I will say I remember everyone getting an award for anything in elementary school. “You guys lost your soccer game? Don’t worry, you get a trophy too! Oh, you guys lost the whole TOURNAMENT? Well, here’s a blue ribbon for showing up!”
Valid, fine, we told kids they were special in the 90s, whatever. But if a kid grows up entitled, it’s not just because they were told they were special. It’s because they were told they were special and also not taught basic human empathy. That’s not a Millennial problem— anyone remember the housing crisis of 2008? Remember how a bunch of bankers sold houses to people they knew couldn’t afford them so they could make exorbitant profits? How old were the assholes that started that shit storm of greed and deceit? Not 18, as they would have had to have been to be Millennials. Also, DONALD TRUMP? Like I feel like that’s all I even need to say. If we’re talking about THE PICTURE of entitlement, it is that old-ass, “small-loan-of-a-million-dollars” man right there. WELL out of Millennial range— did I mention he’s old as fuck? Okay you guys get it. ALSO, Manifest Destiny? #LOL. Generations before Millennials were even the twinkle of an eye at the discotech, Americans decided that our country, already on stolen land mind you, deserved to stretch from coast to coast. Why? No real reason, we just wanted it so we felt like we deserved it. As I write this I’m wondering if entitlement is actually just an American problem…? Probably. Point is Millennials aren’t the only one’s working through that shit so stop trying to call us out.
Next topic: Millennials don’t have social skills because of the advancement of technology. Oh man, okay. This one really gets me because I think if there is anything that has really marked our generation, it’s the rapidity at which technology developed during our childhood/adolescence. I’m 27 years old and I've had almost every iteration of the telephone in its history. It’s true that the proliferation of emailing and texting has changed the way we communicate with each other, but it hasn’t changed the fact that we communicate with each other. If anything it’s just revealed our preferences in communication. Like for example, at this point in my life, I am almost convinced that no one has ever truly enjoyed a phone call. Right? I think we enjoy connecting with people from far away. I think we love hearing the voices of loved ones we wouldn’t otherwise get to speak to. But the rise in the use of texting and applications like FaceTime or Skype to contact one another tells me that as soon as we got other options, we chose them. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s something evolutionarily unsettling about hearing a bodiless voice, but I digress, that’s neither here nor there. Unless that’s been proven somewhere, then it’s very much here. It’s not that Millennials are particularly awkward, it’s that with all of these new modes for communication, it’s easier to tell.
The last two I mentioned, I will address together because I’m tired. Millennials are obsessed with the opinions of their peers, also have ruined the economy by choosing experiences over savings. First of all, I’m just gonna say the fact that the phrase “Keeping up with the Jones’” was coined longgggg before us will tell you right there that first one is bullshit. Comparing ourselves to each other has been an AGGRESSIVELY human trait, since l i t e r a l l y forever. Everyone’s like, “*shakes fist* Ahhhh Instagram! Ahhhh Facebook! Everyone’s obsessed with getting likes, we’re headed for hell in a hand basket!” Pause. Yes it’s true that being “liked” on social media can become addictive, but the obsessive need for validation was not caused by social media, it was highlighted by it. Again, VERY basic human trait. And just because earlier generations scratched their validation itch in other ways doesn’t mean they didn’t suffer from it. WE SEE YOU. Anyway, as for spending money on trips instead of saving for a house or some shit— look, it’s not our fault generations before us (read: baby boomers, also read: shade) somehow made it so paying off student loans is impossible until you’re 80. It’s also not our fault we realized experiences enrich our lives more than material things do before we hit retirement age. Sorry, not sorry.
These are obviously not the only allegations that have been lobbed against Millennials, I’m sure Google could give you a comprehensive list if you asked. But what I’m saying is that it feels like most, if not all, of the shit we’re blaming Millennials for is a severe case of the Pot being a judgmental asshole. Listen, fellow Millennials: you’re doing fucking fine. Whether you have a house or not, whether you got married after college or had to move back in with your parents—or both, whether you'd rather text than call or not—you’re doing just fine. You’re working through your shit the same way everyone else is. In the wise words of 3LW (remember when I said I was tired?), “Haters are gonna hate, and players are gonna play.” Play on, Millennials. Play on.