What Did The Millennials Ever Do To You?

Over the last 2 weeks or so, twentysomthings, Millennials and all those Gen-Y have found themselves on the other side of some harsh rhetoric. As often as it is with younger generations, there is a constant need for talking down to youth. And whether that be for the best of intentions or for the fear of kids going wrong, our older counterparts have some serious beefs with us.

After all we’ve never fought a great war. We’re taking to long to grow-up. Our parents have treated as too well. We’re too dreamy, extremely connected, spent years as students, and so on. The dialogue has been a one-way conversation. A conversation that has targeted the Millennials and everything they do.

The last 2 weeks or so…

What’s even more disconcerting is the anti-Millennial language has come from major media publications. From Fox’s article “Can Generation Y Keep America Great?” to the New York Times’ article “What Is It About 20-Somethings?” and Harvard Business Review’s “Two Common Mistakes of Millennials at Work”, there is a strong sense of negative sentiment towards us.

Though not all is lost. There are more than a few individuals that have a great understanding of who the Millennials are. From Rosetta Thurman’s “Is It Time for Generation Y to ‘Grow Up?’”, the Huffington Post’s “How to Manage Me: Millennials and Communication”, and Millennial Expert, Carol Phillips’ “Why Many Find Millennials Puzzling” and her most recent article “The Generational Culture Gap”, the picture of Millennials is not only clearer but vividly different, positive and encouraging.

How did all the Millennial bashing even start?

A generation that approximately begins around 1980 and spans to about 2000, puts it’s oldest members at 30 years old. Few hardly remember the Cold War, dial-up internet and wood-paneled tv’s. Most have spent time in school until past their early 20’s. And many have had significant encouragement from their parents. Don’t we all want the best for our children?

So, alright, we’ve grown up as one of the most privileged set of youths. Possibly the most privileged ever in human history. But is this really our fault?

As children, teenagers and graduates, should we have hoped for a darker, dimmer and hopeless future? Are we too optimistic for everyone else’s sake?

Or is it all a sense of jealously? From those that had a more difficult time growing up, let me rephrase that, a different time growing up?

The questions are endless. And we’re still left wondering. How could things possibly be the same for Millennials when times are so obviously different? Different has always been a problem. And different has always been challenging.

Understandably, keeping everything the same would be the best possible solution for all our current societal structures. After all, they’ve been taking shape and moulded over the last half century. And now the Millennials have come in with their social media and smart phones and are ready to take-over one update, tweet and text at a time.

So we must be a societal threat? There is no doubt in my mind we’ll change the world everyone currently sees. And Facebook is the simplest, most obvious and perfect example since a set of Millennials founded it. Not only are we products of an existing environment, we’re continually redefining it.

Maybe, at a time when so much is going wrong – something of which Millennial’s are in no way responsible for – it’s easiest to blame the “new guy”. The oldest of us is only 30. We’ve hardly had the time to make real problems. If productivity is down, it must be because we’ve been Facebooking and texting all day, since the internet, other distractions or phones were non-existent before us.

The Millennials are the perfect societal scapegoat. At 19.5% unemployment, it must be because about 15 million of us refuse to work. Not because there actually is 15 million jobs waiting for us. Our longer stays in education are not only costing more but student debt is growing exponentially. So forgive us if we choose to live at home longer, get married later and wait to have children.

The recap

By the standards of the New York Times article, Boomers themselves would’ve have been in our position if you compared them to previous generations before. As times change, people change. It’s been an ongoing cycle throughout time. The Boomer standard will ultimately change too.

Fox’s article would suggest we need another great war, because that’s what makes a great generation. Trust me, I thank all those before us and what they’ve done to get us here. But wars are so passé. Should another “Great War” arise, it won’t be pretty. So let’s just avoid that standard. Greatness is not set or encompassed by a single group of people. Give the Millennials a chance first. Then we’ll make the comparisons.

And lastly, the Harvard Business Review article. Millennials acting like Millennials is hardly a mistake in any scenario. That would suggest no one should act like themselves. And it makes me wonder what kind of world everyone has grown up in before us. Even with all our technology and web-savvyness, our human element is strongest of any generation. I’m not suggesting we simply do what we like. But we’ll figure out a way to do it all. Whether you agree with our processes or not.

Where’s the toleration, human understanding and ability to work together? We are all part of the same society aren’t we? Why all the dictating, blaming and finger pointing? Though I must admit that the current culture of the Millennials was highly the result of Boomers and Gen-Xers, I’d hardly play the blame game with them. If I wanted to do that I’d bring up the economic crisis, the environmental crisis and all other crises we, the Millennials, will have to take care of in the future.

Even with all this, I’ve hardly answered my question. But wasn’t that obvious. I’m a Millennial. What do I know about anything.

(Photo credit)

You might also like:

Share
8 comments
Josip
Josip

I definitely agree with you Vince. There is many catalysts set in place, which can be used for any purpose. Equally, it's a two way street. The good will come with the bad. But what I find most interesting is not the actual fact that "prominent" and "successful" people only have the ability to publish any more, any one can do it. And that's the rub. 20 years ago we'd be twentysomethings not even knowing about each others existence, yet people still would of wrote about us. But now, not only do we see the words they write and have access to it, more importantly, we have access to write our own words. Gives our generation considerable power at such a young age.

Vince @ Partee Insurance
Vince @ Partee Insurance

It seems to me that the easy access media is actually a catalyst to the excessive malicious conversation against Millennials. Much like everything on the internet, once something has been posted on say Fox, CNN, or wherever, everyone is able to repost, retweet, buzz, share, stumble, ect. that information. On top of that, some may be inclined to elaborate and share their own discontent. Hell, anyone can post anything on the internet, just look at us, a couple 20-somethings running willy-nilly all over the internet blogging about whatever strikes us. The very same mediums that initially brought us all together appears is being used against us like some kind of cyber-war of independence between generations. Too bad nobody warned us the British were coming...

Josip
Josip

I appreciate the comment Vince! Maybe there is a legitimate and fascinating connection somewhere with in the framework of all the easy access media we have and it's ability to get the word out. But even then you wouldn't expect excessive words towards Millennials. And though it will all pass, it won't be easily forgotten. Remember, the internet doesn't forget anything.

Vince @ Partee Insurance
Vince @ Partee Insurance

Extremely well done. As a middle-of-the-pack Millenial, I can completely relate to everything you're talking about. I do find it interesting that the same excessive-socialization they love to criticize us for, e.g. Facebook, Twitter and smart-phones, is the very media they use to "spread the word." I'm sure that Howie is right, and this will all pass. Maybe it just SEEMS like we're being excessively bashed because of all the interconnectivity between these sources? Just an observation. Keep up the great work!

Josip
Josip

When it comes to "defining" a generation, it's always easier to give a definition because than that gives a basis to speak towards a particular audience. But what fascinates me is how we come about these definitions. Right now, it's interesting to see how many different definitions exist of the time frame of Millennials and Gen-Y. I'm an early-mid 80s kid, so I do relate to those a few years forward and backward. But can I relate to people born 10 years after me? Who can really say. All our experiences are ultimately compared to on another. And all that can mean a hundred different things.

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
Howie at Sky Pulse Media

Jealousy is the driver on the issue. Embarrassment, Regret. You are 100% correct on what they are doing. You have your whole life in front of you and most haven't messed it up with bad choices, career decisions, or poor choice of future mates for their own lives, while completely messing up countries and the planet for future generations. It is natural for bitter people to not be accountable.

I don't like the word Generation attached to large groups. Because 20+ years is not a cohort. It's really like 10 or sometimes smaller. Who are your peers? I don't know your age but do you group yourself in with people 10 years older or 10 years younger if asked to state who your peer age group is?

Josip
Josip

Great comment Howie! And great to have you back :) We definitely share similar sentiments on the issue. The vast extensions of media have made voices bigger. So like you say, we hear more than anyone previously heard. Like many new aspects, they've been used as an excuse to characterize a vast group of individuals. But what I find most interesting is much of what is used to characterize Gen-Y is the result of what has come before them. It's ultimately easier to blame those that are young and not in positions of power as opposed to saying, "hey, we made their environment this way. Let's work with them to get the best possible outcome." Avoid responsibility is always easier than taking responsibility.

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
Howie at Sky Pulse Media

Great post Josip. Always stick to your guns. I was always a dissident who required someone older to prove (just by my observing them not a specific challenge) they deserve my respect vs just because they were older. Not sure if you were ever in a Fraternity. It's just your turn to pay your dues and be hazed. Its bullshit btw. But it's more intense with your generation due to all the media connectivity. But the same news outlets were writing about Gen-X when I was your age. But when I was your age I had to buy the paper or watch that TV show or would never of known there was smacking talking on on.

There is a cycle that each 'labeled Generation goes through' from when it first coalesces and is named to when it passes on. And your the first truly screwed Generation (at least in the US). Gen-X is being hurt but we rode the fake economy boom built on the Baby Boomer borrowing spree and earth destroying gluttonous rampage. And us, like you and your kids have to pay it off and clean it up. Anyone older than you who says they know better or Gen-Y doesn't measure up, needs to look in the mirror. Because they screwed you. Even the 'good' people.

BTW NY Times has bordered on bankruptcy, takeovers, huge layoffs, big revenue declines. So they are an authority on giving your Gen advice?