Dear Millennial Bashers, We Need to Talk…

I appreciate your candor. I do. And I appreciate your desire for a better world. Who wouldn’t?
But here’s the thing: can we please take a chill pill with all the Millennial bashing? You are insulting me, every single one of my friends, and millions of people who, every day, are inspiring new innovations, medical advancements, broadened perspectives, sociological progression, and vehicles for charitable giving.
We live in a time when the potential to be blasted by media propaganda has multiplied exponentially in our lifetime, but just because a message is loud, it doesn’t mean it’s correct. There is much more to this generation than disrespect and laziness, which by the way, has existed in every generation since the beginning of time, thanks to human nature. If baby boomers had had the same technological prevalence of social sharing and reality TV, it would have been just as easy to think that they were as terrible a generation as you think we are (and many people still do). They did, after all, usher in the highest-ever national prevalence rates of divorce, debt, and sexually transmitted diseases in our nation’s history (perhaps our elders should be apologizing to us for that)… It’s just that no one had YouTube, Facebook, or WordPress to exploitatively parade their massive missteps. They had to rely on the circulation rates of (what were those things called again? Oh right…) newspapers.
Let’s take a moment to talk facts instead of suppositions, shall we? According to White House Economic Advisors (I strongly recommend a full reading of this report), Millennials “are the most diverse and educated generation to date.” We “value family, community, and creativity in [our] work” (we care about what we do and how we do it)… “are not just virtually connected via social networks” (yes, we know how to build real relationships)… “invest in human capital more than previous generations” (thereby increasing our contribution to national prosperity)… “are more likely to study social sciences and applied fields” (because we care about others and want to help fix problems)… “made important decisions about [our] educational and career paths during a time of great economic uncertainty” (with the unemployment rate double what it was for our parents, prompting us to respond with vast innovations in the workforce)… and “have more labor market equality than previous generations” (a torch proudly passed to us by our mothers and grandmothers, which we refuse to drop).
A Clark University study showed that Millennials rate “contributing to society,” “correcting inequalities,” and “being a leader in the community” as higher priorities than baby boomers did when they were our age. 84% of us think we should be financially responsible for our elderly parents (keep insulting us and see if that number doesn’t change). On average, Millennials’ IQs are six points higher than people 20 years our senior. 84% of us make a charitable donation every year, in order of 1) children’s charities, 2) places of worship, and 3) health-related causes. 70% spend time volunteering in a given year. According to Angela White, CEO of philanthropic consulting firm JGA Associates, “[Millennials] view donating as time and money, and they like to know how their gifts make a difference.”
Yes, we believe in following our dreams, being happy, and living meaningful, adventurous, well-rounded lives. No, many of us won’t bite our tongues and put our heads down for the rest of our lives, just for a 9-to-5 job that makes us cranky, miserable, burnt out humans, simply because it sounds good on paper. It’s not because we’re lazy. It’s not that we don’t care about jobs or aren’t driven to be successful — it’s that we changed the entire economic infrastructure for how to make a living (you’re welcome), so that we don’t HAVE to depend on someone else’s dreams to EARN one (yes, we Millennials know the word “earn”).
And look, honestly… I get it. I grew up in the South. I believe in saying “please” and “thank you” and “ma’am” and “sir.” I think it’s rude to start eating before everyone has their meal. I’ve never seen an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians or Real Housewives in my life. I donate 10% of my income to a cause I believe in. I believe in equality for women (and everyone, for that matter), but I also believe that opening a door for a woman or helping her with her coat is a sign of respect and deference for the gender that you rely on for the continuation of our species.
But the truth is, I can’t think of a single Millennial I actually know who even remotely fits the broad, hyberbolic description in Alexis Bloomer’s speech, well-intentioned though it may be. Not to mention that insulting an entire generation could not be a more ironic example of the divisiveness of which we have all been so accused of causing. Paul Begala wrote, “it is as unfair to demonize an entire generation as it is to characterize an entire gender or race or religion.” In all fairness, he said this in an article where he was actually demonizing an entire generation, but the point is that messages like this create unnecessary categorization that really just serves as a vehicle to deliver blame. Blaming other people, after all, is much easier than recognizing that we all have to take personal and collective responsibility for the state of our country and our world.
We are a progressive and innovative generation, so yes, we do some things differently and we value some things differently. But the world is always changing, so on behalf of Millennials everywhere, may I suggest you all try to keep up. Maybe Alexis Bloomer looks around and finds herself surrounded by people who don’t donate, don’t volunteer, don’t have jobs, and don’t have manners, but basing this evaluation on the Bravo channel, or the scope of Kim Kardashian’s Twitter following, and then choosing to spew off a slew of one-dimensional, generation-bashing accusations, doesn’t make her evaluation accurate.
In fact, it makes her part of the issue, not the solution; insulting, not inspiring. If she wants to make a video with helpful suggestions on how we can budget to increase charitable giving? Fine. A video on finding ways to get more involved with developing our local communities? Great. A refresher course on basic manners and their value in society? ALL FOR IT (I actually may do that myself)… But her words felt like they were meant to tear down, not build up, and I don’t see how they contribute to the betterment of anyone, regardless their birth year.
She has her right to free speech (what a wonderful thing), as well as the opportunity to post it all over the Internet (for which she has Millennials to thank), but perhaps her time would have been more productively spent volunteering in the local soup kitchen she’s so convinced is Millennially-understaffed than recording a selfie video telling all of us that we don’t know how to productively spend OUR time.
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