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)

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