The good, the bad and the Millenials

September 12th, 2013

If you’re between the ages of 18 and 28, I’m surprised you put down your new-fangled, expensive smart phone that your parents bought you and stopped watching cat videos online for five minutes to read this, you lazy, bottom-feeding Millenial.


Haven’t you heard? Millenials are “Generation Text,”  “The Me, Me, Me Generation” and “The Trophy Kids” who mope around in a zombie-like stupor, emanating entitlement, laziness and total lack of respect.


A recent trend of Millenial bashing has spread across newspapers, blogs and magazines in which Baby Boomers and Generation X – if we’re going to do this whole labeling thing – essentially blame anyone born between the late 1980s and the early 2000s for various economic, social and cultural problems that have cropped up since their birth, and subject the entire generation to sweeping generalizations of its apathetic, egocentric, materialistic narcissism.


A stereotypical Millenial is a hipster type who mooches off his or her parents, takes approximately three to five “selfies” per hour and expects jobs, money and success to fall right out of their iCloud.


In an article published in Forbes Magazine in May 2012, titled “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme: Millenials in the Workplace” (need I say more?), Ty Kiisel identified some of the following as characteristics that make Millenials failures on the professional level: their expectations for instant gratification, obsession with technology and need for constant feedback. He also bemoaned Millenials for the obscene desire to dress casually in the work place. He referenced a study that found that 79 percent of Millenials think they should be allowed to wear jeans while they are at work. Maybe it’s the Millenial in me, but I can’t help but question the priorities of someone who is actually offended by something like a preference for denim pants.


Millenials are entering the workforce in the wake of a recession for which they cannot be held responsible. And while I’m not pointing fingers at Boomers or Gen X (though I could), I’m asking them to be sympathetic to this factor that they may or may not be held accountable for.


Additionally, when jobs become scarce and employers can only offer a limited number of positions, they’re more likely to hire someone older with more experience than a less qualified Millenial (who will probably end up working a full-time, unpaid internship – but that’s for another column).


This is the same generation that sparked the highest increase in college enrollment than ever before. If Millenials are not experiencing career success, it’s not for lack of education or effort. And never mind that, nationally, student loan debt has recently surpassed both credit card and auto debt – we’re talking close to $1 trillion and rising.


The worst part is that Millenial bashers act as though Millenials are the first generation of young people to be, well, young. By definition, young people are less mature, less experienced and less accomplished than older people – that’s just common sense. Every generation has been young and will be old.


Believe it or not, it’s not every Millenial’s dream to live in their parents’ basement after college – for most, it’s more of a last resort and/or nightmare.


I’m going to make my own unfounded claims for a minute and just say that about 9.9 out of 10 of my generation’s parents and grandparents have either racist, sexist or homophobic characteristics – if not all three. But I’m not going to make this a battle of whose generation is worse – I’m just pointing out that every generation has its flaws.


When I’m a 80-year-old geezer writing a letter-to-the-editor to my local newspaper (wait, those won’t exist anymore), I’m sure I’ll be tapping away on my ancient iPad, griping about those whippersnappers floating around in their hovercars or reminiscing about the days when I had to actually walk 10 miles to school, up hill both ways, instead of teleporting. But, until then, give Millenials a break. My generation is the most accepting, compassionate generation yet when it comes to important social issues like homophobia, sexism and racism. While these problems still plague Millenials to a degree, it seems like we might be the beginning of the end of ignorant prejudice, at least in the U.S.


So maybe we are accustomed to information being at the tip of our fingers at all times, and maybe we have generally high self esteem because our parents raised us to believe that we’re all special and we’re all winners, but in some ways, these things aren’t all that bad – when equipped with some good old-fashioned common sense.


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a latte I need to Instagram.