Its Time For Millennials To Stop Hating On Millennials
Reacting to Overgeneralized Accusations.
Each day it was the same video shared by a different Facebook friend. As you scroll over it the video automatically begins playing. It has text covering a top portion that reads something along the lines of “guy explains everything wrong with millennials”.
Full Disclosure: I am a millennial.
I watch the video. Not entirely because I want to but mostly because everyone else is doing it. The scene is set, some comfy looking chairs, an interviewer and guest, and a small audience. The Facebook version of the video is clearly edited around this very specific piece of information. The guest starts talking. Immediately I get the impression that he feels he’s the smartest person in the room, and maybe he is. He begins with his theories on why millennials are difficult to manage. He maps out his reasoning into four parts. Parenting, Technology, Impatience, and Environment.
Much of what he says I agree with, but there’s a lot I don’t. The guest begins with explaining that it’s not millennials fault and makes statements which he starts with “not my words” before overgeneralizing an entire generation.
Parenting— He argues that parents told millennials they could have anything they ever wanted, that they’re special and that they deserve trophies for just participating. Makes sense right? But he continues with, these individuals then move on to the workforce they find out they’re not special and that their parents cant get them that big promotion they want. Again, sounds fine right? Remember, he’s making these claims for an entire generation of individuals without any evidence. Apparently millennials can’t cope in the workforce without their loving parents giving them everything they want.
Technology — He moves on to technology. Big scary technology that millennials abuse. Another claim comes out of nowhere, our use of technology makes our entire generation have lower rates of self-esteem than any other generation in history. Again, no evidence. Then he shifts gears, equating the use of social media to smoking, drinking and gambling through a chemical reaction of dopamine in the brain. Text pops up on the screen pointing to a study that found the release of dopamine when using social media, which is understandable. Yet again a generalization comes forward which throws all millennials into a barrel of addicts who always need their phones and essentially ‘self-medicate’ with social media just like alcoholics. I have no problem understanding that some individuals can become addicted to social media, but that’s not what the guest says. He clearly claims an entire generation becomes addicted because of the use of technology at a young age.
Impatience — This is the part of the video that frustrates me the most. Up until this point, I can tolerate some of the larger accusations. He starts with our need for instant gratification, observed from Amazon, Netflix, and tinder which gets a great laugh from the crowd. This is fine with me, I’m not going to apologize for inventions and innovations that I enjoy. After talking about our generational impatience he lofts another generalization, millennials quit their jobs really quickly because they aren’t moving up fast enough. This is a touchy subject for me because I have seen many published articles argue the same thing, older generations don’t change jobs as fast as millennials. Crazy information right? Millennials must be impulsive and lazy. Except, when you compare millennial rates of ‘job hopping’ to that of generation X when they were just starting in the workforce they were switching jobs at the same rates (Pew Research Center). This should be easy to understand, young people aren’t settled into their life and are very ambitious to make their mark, so they try to find the best place to work. I would not describe this as a millennial problem, more a young people problem, if you call it a problem at all.
But that’s not how the guest sees it. He believes that millennials are on a journey to make an “impact”. I put quotes around that because he air quotes it a few times in a mocking manner. He says that because millennials search for this impact and won’t ever find it they won’t ever find happiness, they will just go through life being ‘fine’. Yes, another wild generalization.
Environment — This is perhaps the most interesting. The guest talks about the corporate environment being an issue, that because of the technology, the bad parenting, and the impatience millennials never learned proper social skills, and it’s on the employers to teach them. He claims that organizations should ban cell phones from conference rooms because millennials will stare at their phone until the meeting starts and not converse with others, practicing their social skills. He says this as if older generations don’t also have cell phones, and don’t also use them at the wrong times. As if millennials only talk to others when they have to and the older generations are just sitting there staring at the millennials waiting to talk to them. Again, no evidence to suggest it’s a millennial problem.
I don’t want to blame this guest. I’m not mad at him and I don’t question why he said these things. He is a very respected and successful speaker and I believe there are many he things he gets right, it’s mostly the generalizations he makes with a lack of evidence that bothers me.
I am frustrated with other millennials. The millennials that shared this video over and over again. Every day for at least a month this video would show up on my Facebook feed with someone my age praising what he was saying.
Millennials — Its time to stop hating on yourselves. We are a great generation, different sure, but also innovative, caring and hard working.
Older generations will almost always have negative opinions of younger generations. That’s why I’m not frustrated with the speaker but with my generation. Do some people abuse technology? Of course. But we are also the first generation to actually grow up with this technology and some millennials, much smarter than me, are using it to create absolute wonders.
I often make a joke to friends about millennials being the biggest mass-murderers in history, sarcastically of course. I make this joke because it seems like every time we do something different than older generations we are ‘killing’ an industry. News articles are constantly titled something along the lines of “millennials are killing the taxi industry” or “Millennials are killing the hotel industry.” As if we shouldn’t have an opinion on something and feel the need to do it differently.
Millennials are obviously different than older generations and will be different than the next generation and that generation will be different from the next. It’s a cycle of change, one that is great for our society. Millennials, embrace that difference and understand it’s not a bad thing. When someone makes a claim about how terrible we are, ask why. The answer will usually be, “because that’s not how we did it.”