Millennials. It is a word that rolls off the tongue, but stings the ear. It is a word that classifies a generation of people with a variety of negative traits.
A Millennial is anyone born between 1980-2000, the culture successors to Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and Gen X (1965-1979).
They are the last group to experience, or even remember, a time without the web and handheld devices. The biggest differentiator with Millennials is that they are more technologically connected than the previous generations because they ushered in technology previously only found in science fiction novels.
Search ‘Millennials have killed’ into Google for a long and ridiculous list of blame drummed up by Baby Boomers. Golf, malls, vacations, relations, you name it, Millennials allegedly ‘killed it’. There’s no recognition in that of the point that change is integral to human advancement. Moreover, the nametag of Millennial suggests young people are entitled, lazy, opinionated, sensitive and naïve. The list of things that Millennials should be praised for however, isn’t near as long.
For example, Millennials are living with – and leading – an unprecedented increase in communication. Unfortunately, these are things they are not given credit for.
Humans have never been able to communicate with each other as they do routinely now. In our over 150,000 year history as a species, neighbouring cities were like neighbouring countries just 100 years ago. The electric typewriter and the radio were invented around the 1900s, and the first automobile shortly after. Fast forward to today when anybody can tweet with the Dalai Lama, FaceTime with a friend from across the world, or get to Montreal from Toronto in barely an hour by plane.
Instead of being credited for aspects of this development, Millennials are told that their bosses, the older and wiser Baby Boomers, facilitated the Millennials with expert oversight. Baby Boomers are often in positions of power over Millennials because they lived in a time when the only way to succeed was to climb step by step up the greasy corporate ladder. With this new age in this open world, greasy corporate ladders are almost a thing of the past, but continue to keep Millennials on the ground floor.
The job market in general has turned into a loophole-full contract-based environment in which salaried jobs are given time and cost limits. Those who are not lucky enough to sign contracts for work are forced to work part-time with full-time responsibilities. Part-time jobs are usually minimum wage, so two and even sometimes three of those are necessary to scrape together a decent living.
In order to get out of the part time-pendulum, education is needed. The up-front cost of education aside, there is not enough time for people to be successful academically for employable grades yet be stable enough financially to eat and live. This is the life for many ‘lazy’ Millennials in the wake of the ‘hardworking’ Baby Boomer (with some help from the Gen Xers). When education is ‘over,’ Millennials find themselves paying Baby Boomers back in the form of student loans through the glorious contract work they earned during those grueling years in school.
Being Green is a big market these days, something that Baby Boomers created for Millennials unintentionally. After decades of dumping sewage into the ocean, chopping down massive amounts of forestry and burning a hole in the atmosphere, there is a newfound concern that it probably is not a good idea to slowly corrode the planet we live on. This, however, circles back to Baby Boomers leading projects supported and advertised by the younger generation that in most cases has to volunteer to participate.
Volunteering may seem like a good thing, but Baby Boomers choose to look down on Millennials for doing this as well. Boomers and Gen Xers will say it takes up time that could be used for working to get paid or investing in an education, instead of running around trying to save the world. They might also say that the world is in perfect shape. They might say the world doesn’t need saving. It wouldn’t be the first array of warning signs they have disregarded.
The same can be said of the many social problems plaguing the world of today. Phobias of LGBT+, race relations and gender inequality are all issues that were also largely ignored by Boomers and Gen Xers until Millennials started to bring attention to them. These are only some of the problems that have boiled over and cannot be ignored any more, and for some such as race relations, they may even be getting worse. For being social renegades, Millennials attained the reputation of being opinionated and hypersensitive. Which apparently is a very bad thing.
The premise that Millennials are killing everything is nothing but a fallacy. Not only have Millennials thrived and succeeded in a way previous generations have not, but they have swum upstream in a pitched battle for money, security, and comfort. When Boomers sneer at Millennials for being lazy, naive, entitled young’uns, they are assuming superiority based on the damage they themselves have partly done.
What do golf, malls, vacations and relations all have in common? These are all things that require time and money. Both time and money are things the average Millennial is having to work twice as hard to attain. To say a generation killed these things is simply wrong. To blame a generation for the circumstances they find themselves existing in is also wrong. A crumbling world has fallen into the hands of Millennials, and if any generation has the ability to put it all back together, it’s them.