I normally like to start these things with some random thought that transitions well into whatever my topic is, but I’m going to skip that this time. If you’re one of those people who’s ever complained that “young people today are so lazy” or “they just want everything handed to them”, or maybe even, “they have no manners or respect”, this post is for you. I’m 32. I was born in 1984, right at the tail end of Generation X. Because of that, I feel like I’ve lived most of my life in a sort of neutral middle ground between X and Y. I have friends that fall distinctly into each group also. I’m not saying that makes me any kind of authority on the matter, just that it colors my viewpoint on this whole thing.
See, some Gen X people and a lot of the Baby Boomers like to complain about the upcoming generation now in college or new to the job market. They whine that they have no manners, spend too much time on their phones, want to make everything politically correct, and are just basically causing the downfall of the once great United States Of America. If that’s you; if that’s the way you think; then here’s the tl;dr summary of the rest of this post:
You’re wrong. Now shut the fuck up.
If you’d like me to elaborate on that, keep reading.
Millennials are just fine the way they are. They don’t need to be more respectful or disconnect from technology. They simply grew up in circumstances that you can’t even comprehend and thus have a drastically different world view than you did as a youngster. We honestly need to look at each point made against them one at a time in order to explain all that, so let’s dive in.
Assumption 1) Millennials spend too much time online.
I’m hitting this one first because the points I make here will kinda tie in to everything else. The notion here is that Millennials are constantly on their phones or computers checking Facebook and Snapchat instead of interacting with actual people or focusing on stuff that’s actually important. First off, let’s address the elephant in the room; if iPhone and Facebook had existed when we were kids, we’d have been just as glued to them and don’t you fucking deny it. 15-year-old me used to dream of having technology even half as cool as that. I was a kid back in the dark ages before the internet and my family wasn’t exactly a bunch of chatter boxes back then either. We read newspapers, magazines, and watched TV.
Oh yea, did you all forget that before the internet we were all “watching too much TV”? Remember how TV was destroying families? Guess what; before then it was the radio. Human beings have always found ways of distracting ourselves from interaction. With the internet there is at least still interaction going on. You couldn’t communicate with TV back in the 80’s and 90’s. You couldn’t type a rebuttal to what you read in a magazine. If anything, Millennials are more social than any generation before them. With texting and social media, we communicate with other people now more than ever. Sure, it’s not face to face, but if being social and interacting with people is the whole point of the argument, can you really say they’re doing worse than we were staring at the TV for hours on end?
The internet is actually going to be a big focus of basically every point from here on out so keep that in mind.
Assumption 2) Millennials Don’t Care About Anything Important
Nothing is more ironically absurd than a Generation X’er complaining that Millennials are slackers. Gen X practically invented slacking. Think about movies like Clerks where slacking off was championed. The 80’s and 90’s were the time when everything was “lame”. School was “lame”, getting a job was “lame”. It was a time of supposedly embracing the counter-culture, but our counter culture didn’t stand for anything. And we figured out really fast that you can’t make a living off thinking stuff is “lame”.
You definitely can’t say the same for Millennials. Their counter-culture means something. LGBT rights, #BlackLivesMatter, feminism; these are the things they’re pushing. We wanted to fight the establishment, but had no idea what to replace it with. Not only do the Millennials have a vision for the future, they’re fighting hard for it! Think about movements like Occupy Wall Street, the explosive rise of the Bernie Sanders campaign, and of course the protests in response to the killings of black men and women by police. I see stories all the time about girls in high school staging demonstrations to protest the sexist dress code. We had the same dress code when I was their age and we didn’t do shit about it!
Millennials actually fight for something, they get off their asses and try to make a difference. Through the power of the internet, they shine a continuous light on all the crap we either didn’t know about or did know about but said nothing because we thought we were the only ones who saw it. Fuck, remember when we used to think race relations were getting better? How would we have used such a powerful tool at their age? Would we have honed the internet into such a powerful weapon against injustice, or just used it to amplify our echo chamber of decrying how “lame” everything is?
Assumption 3) Millennials Are Lazy and Want Everything Handed to Them
As a tail-end Generation X’er, I can say confidently that my generation was the last to experience something that will likely never happen again: we were the last kids able to grow up ignorant. In the modern world of constant connectivity and unfiltered information (depending on source), the only type of ignorance left in the world is willful ignorance. We grew up with teachers and other adult leaders enthusiastically telling us that we could be anything when we grew up. We were told the sky was the limit as long as we believed in our dreams and worked hard to achieve them. It wasn’t until we spent a few years in the real world that we found out that was a load of shit.
Millennials don’t get the luxury of that bubble to live in. Sure, adults still feed them the same crap about the American dream and the importance of a college education, but then they can go online and get the real story. They can find out that finding a starting salary that can afford you a living is pretty much impossible. They already know most college degrees are ultimately worthless and will only saddle them with an inescapable amount of debt. They know that the generations before them reaped the benefits of an America shaped by labor unions and tight restrictions on businesses, only to then become Reagan-voting idiots who allowed all of that to fall apart once they ‘got theirs’.
And they learned all of this as early as grade school
Work hard and you can achieve your dreams? We know that’s a load of crap now that we’re adults, but they know it before even joining the work force. Meanwhile, they also know that in countries across the ocean, people of all ages are reaping the benefits of socialist societies where they would have the opportunity to achieve their dreams. You can’t save money for retirement if you can’t afford insurance. You can’t buy a house if minimum wage keeps you in poverty. Fighting for socialized medicine and free college isn’t asking for a hand-out; it’s demanding a real chance to succeed the way the old-guard keeps telling them to succeed.
The way they know is bullshit.
But you know who is making a decent living now? The guys playing video games and unboxing stuff on Youtube. It sounds crazy, but advertisers are paying big money to get their ads placed in front of viral videos and the creators of said videos are making a very comfortable living as a result. To Millennials, that has become the new image of success. It’s not about getting a job that you’re going to hate and never make enough doing anyway. They don’t want to be the next PewDiePie because they just want to play video games all day, they want to be the next PewDiePie because it’s a viable path to a successful life.
Assumption 4) Millennials Don’t Have Any Real-World Skills
Millennials don’t know how to change a tire. Millennials can’t balance a checkbook. Millennials can’t drive stick. Millennials can’t read a map. Any of these sound familiar? Even I’ve been guilty of spouting one or two of these off before. We like to think of Millennials as unprepared to face life because they don’t possess the “real-world” skills they need.
I was stupid for thinking this and so are you.
You want to know what kind of stuff our generations largely don’t know how to do: shoe a horse, churn butter, and make clothing. We don’t know how to do these things because technological and societal advancements have made such knowledge largely obsolete. Milennials know plenty, but they didn’t bother to learn the stuff we had to do that simply isn’t needed anymore. Balance a checkbook? My banking app does all that for me. Change a tire? A few taps on my smart phone and a wrecker will be out in a few minutes (hell, my phone carrier even offers that as a service). Read a map? Who even has a map in their car now thanks to GPS? Why do we demand Millennials take the time to learn dying social skills? I certainly don’t plan to learn how to use a printing press to produce this blog.
On the flip side, how often do you ask some young person a question about how to use your smart phone? How about when you need to fix your computer? They might not know how to change the oil in a car, but they can write code to make an app. Millennials aren’t stupid. They just know what skills they need to learn and what archaeal practices we’re holding onto for nostalgia’s sake. Maybe instead of whining that your teenager won’t bother learning to do their own taxes you could take a class in HTML and get with the times.
Assumption 5) Millennials are the “Pussy” Generation
I saved this one till the end because this where I’m going to stop being nice. If you’ve made it this far and still aren’t with me then you likely agree with this assumption and need a sterner talking to than most. Do you complain that Millennials worry too much about being politically correct or that they’re always offended by everything? Well, you might want to check the back of your pickup truck because I’m willing to bet your Donald Trump bumper sticker is a little crooked.
Where do you people get the fucking nerve to treat the push for equality as a bad thing? Politically correct is a term that needs to die in a fire because it means nothing. It’s just a short-handed way for bigoted fuck-sticks to shrug off the people calling them out for being bigoted fuck-sticks. Not only is this assumption about them wrong, the reason it’s wrong perfectly shows why Mellinnials aren’t just okay, they’re better than many of the generations that came before them including mine. Millennials have managed to finally understand what most of the rest of us still don’t get…
You shouldn’t stay silent on injustices that don’t affect you.
The reason this generation has brought about such an onslaught of “political correction” is because they’re giving a much louder voice to movements that have existed for decades but were largely ignored. You think #BlackLivesMatter is something new? The term may be, but police brutality against the black community has always been there! It’s just that now it’s getting broadcast on Youtube and white Millennials are adding their voices to those of black men and women seeking justice. You think transgender people just suddenly showed up out of the blue? We’ve always existed, but now the internet is giving us a voice and Millennials are helping us to carry that voice to more ears.
We no longer live in an America where it’s everyone for themselves. Thanks to the movements that Millennials have started, social justice is now a collective fight. I fight for the black man’s right to walk down the street without getting harassed by the police because he is fighting for my right to live authentically and use my correct bathroom. And what’s more, straight, white, male Millennials were the first to actually realize they have a lot of privileges they take for granted. Political correctness is something you whine about when someone calls you out on not being responsible with how good you have it. You’re too big of a coward to face it, but they’re not. Millennials know that their social status can be used as a tool to help others less fortunate. And all this is to say nothing about their fight to save the environment. Remember when we were growing up and your car was a status symbol? Now you’re cool if you don’t use one because you’re trying to save the planet.
Pussy generation? Bitch please. They’ve got bigger balls than you could even dream.
So yea, stop bitching about Millennials. They’re doing just fine. They’re going to be just fine.
Fuck, they might just save the world.