“Mil-lin-nia-l. Gotta love Millennials”
It’s hard not to take notice of the many ‘why-millennials-suck’ videos that have been circulating the internet. (The quote above is from one of them if you have not seen it.) As a millennial I have consistently found myself wanting to speak up on this and even fight back with many “that’s not true” sentiments. Perhaps the salty taste in my mouth is actually a blood stream from biting my tongue so hard.
And some millennials reading this might already be applauding me. But I encourage you to hold on for a second and wait for this, because I have a feeling that no one is about to like what I’m about to say:
Millennials can suck. Boomers can suck. Gen X can suck.
But the last time I checked this was a factor of our human nature. People suck. A lot. We get selfish, greedy, entitled, and lazy. We are often times self-seeking, we are rude, we say things without thinking. We don’t have it together and we never have.
I’d like to preface all of this by saying, I understand each side of the coin. I understand why Boomers/other generations become so frustrated with the upcoming generation of Millennials and I understand the pushback to these frustrations. We are all trying to navigate a space that is really foreign to all of us. Millennials are the first generation to (almost) entirely interact with technology for most of their conscious lives. And with these innovations, came a slew of new ideas and behaviors that none of us were prepared for: even Millennials. But most importantly this technological boom generated a spike in neoliberal ideologies, which really boils down to: Am I good enough? Are WE good enough? Is society deteriorating?
And the answer is no, no, and yes. But this has always been the case.
If we look solely at American history, we can see this trend. We can note the mistreatment of human beings throughout our entire history (i.e. Native Americans, people of Color, Women). We can recognize consistent economic disparities and homelessness rates. We can remember our lack of involvement in international genocides. And even though we’re just looking through the lens of American history, these problems are pervasive even world-wide, and always have been. What’s happening today isn’t new. It is a battle that has been ongoing since the dawn of time. People suck.
And while the above is true, it is still important to recognize that there are worsening aspects of our world. It seems as though so much of what we hear on the news wreaks of violence and hatred. The world has become so much more frightening and insecure than ever before. And I truly believe that that is where our discomfort lies– not in one specific generation.
But while we are on the topic of Millennials, perhaps I’ll add my two-cents on my own generation:
I have had the privilege of knowing some of the most kind-hearted, spiritual, selfless, caring, and loving Millennials. Lots of them. Many of whom have aspirations of sacrificing many parts of their own lives to provide for and support others. I’ve had the honor of knowing so many individuals that go above and beyond to ensure that their families are taken care of; that their children will be loving and respectful. I’ve known so many that do not wish to seek public recognition for their acts of kindness but rather take away the satisfaction of knowing that their efforts meant something.
So many of my peers seem to be rejecting problematic aspects of media and technology. They are consistently skeptical of mainstream trends and whether or not they serve as a benefit to us all. They critique and dream and plan because their dream of a greater and better world is just as alive as the dreams of Boomers and Gen X.
And it’s not easy.
This newly born space has brought with it a series of great consequences. Technology is expensive. An education is expensive. Living is expensive. The job market is dismal. A college degree is required for almost every position (despite the fact that a degree is not necessarily obtainable or desired by the individual). Millennials have a great series of hurdles that we’re all jumping whether we’d like to admit it or not. And we’re not looking for a participation ribbon, I promise. We just want to make it to the finish line.
So while there may be many Millennials that fit every single one of the proposed stereotypes, remember that this has always been true. Remember that this generalization is just that: a generalization. And we’ll try to remember not to generalize you too.
We’re all in this together. We all want a great world. And while we will always fall short, together we can at least aim for it every single day.