I loom over you on a mountain of discarded participation trophies.
I was born in 1995, so the lines are a little rough but essentially I am (by and large) on the tail end of the millennial generation. But given my voracious and insatiable need for validation, my living at home with my parents, and my eternal neck pain from craning downwards to look at my phone, I’d say that I am.
We’ve all heard that, right? Young people are being bombarded by articles. This blog was inspired by a Twitter Moment: “A Thinkpiece Generator for Attacking Millennials” that encouraged people to go to Google and type in “Millennials are killing…” and see what autofills. When I did it, I received the following results.
And because I’m so dedicated to eradicating my narcissicism, I’m going to crop out how many favorites that tweet got…
From diamonds to Applebee’s to cereal, millennials have more blood on their hands than a butcher, and it’s not even because we won’t stop getting vampire facials! We are actively destroying everything that baby boomers love, leaving nothing but avocado toast crumbs in our wake.
But when you actually look at all the things we’ve supposedly “killed”, the reasoning behind it is insane. Millennials are buying diamonds because A) we can’t afford them, B) diamonds are artificially inflated in their value anyway, and C) the whole “diamond engagement ring” was literally a scheme by the diamond cartel De Beers to get people to buy diamonds in the 1940s. If you’re going to spends thousands of dollars on something, at least get a Chanel. Those appreciate over time.
Millennials are going to chain restaurants less because, according to Business Insider, they’re cooking at home more.
But why does everyone seem to hate us? Why are we the object of derision, of articles that paint us as narcissistic, as whiny, as attention-grabbing and babied? Because if those are the qualities that everyone is focusing on, I can think of at least a few people that fit those descriptors perfectly, and they’re not millennials.
We are a generation of participation trophy-demanding whiners. This is so dumb that I’m only going to say this: children were not giving each other participation trophies. What eight-year-old, when handed a trophy by his or her coach or parent or teacher, is going to refuse it on the basis of wanting simply the validating glow of a job well-done?
Millennials are the product of our environment and, more than anything, our social environment is one that is and has been rapidly changing.
Social media is something that millennials are slammed for in particular. I agree that social media can be dangerous. But is that really the fault of millennials?
We were born into a world of technology, one that is relatively lawless and untamed. Are we to blame if we might misuse it or be overwhelmed by it? Maybe in fifty years, we’ll all agree that social media sucked and was a totally awful experiment, but no one, not baby boomers, not Generation X, not the Silent Generation, can handle it, so why do you expect any different from us? And, by the way, as much as we’re documenting our lives on Snapchat, older generations are broadcasting movement-by-movement their lives on Facebook.
I don’t need to know about your grandson’s First Communion, or your knee surgery.
In comparison to older generations, millennials are more likely to achieve higher degrees, face higher amounts of student debt (Forbes reports that there is $1.3 trillion in student debt in the U.S. alone, and the average 2016 graduate has $37,172 in loan debt) have a more diverse pool, are more open to sexuality and gender politics.
We are an incredibly diverse group of people in multiple ways. In the digital age, traditional clumps of “generations” are becoming smaller and smaller. Someone born in the early side of the millennial markers (~1980) has, largely, nothing in common with someone born in 1994. We are more racially diverse, because of the large waves of immigration in the last half century. According to Pew Social Trends, some 43 percent of millennials identify as non-white. We skew more liberal than previous generations as a result of this.
We are less likely to seek out traditional institutions like religion or marriage, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have the same values as previous generations. We have global mindsets and with the Internet, we have access to infinite knowledge.
Have I met people who fit millennial stereotypes? Of course; that’s what a stereotype is. But almost everyone I know is politically-minded, open to debate, and committed to hard work. We know what kind of world we walking into and we shoulder previously-unheard of amounts of student debt in order to gain access to that world. We came of age after the recession, in a world where jobs were not promised to us, where the traditional ladder of employment has been pulverized. We are more likely to job-hop because getting in at a company and working there for forty years is no longer available. Things are rapidly changing.
I love being a millennial; I love being a part of a group of people that are willing to have conversations about race, gender, sexual orientation. I’m proud to be part of a group that knows what hardships we’re walking into and aren’t shying away. I like how much we use the Internet to stay involved with each other. I like that we’re a little narcissistic (because who isn’t?). I like that we’re optimistic, hard-working, independent and strong.
I like that we’re complex. Have I fallen down a flight of stairs because I was spell-checking a Tweet? Yes. Do I also read the Wall Street Journal? Yes. Am I good at math? No. Does anyone really need to be when we all have calculators on our phones? No.