Give Millennials a break

Photo: kpgolfpro, via

Enough already. Let’s leave these guys alone.

Okay, maybe I’m depressed. In the past few months, I have sadly discovered that due to my birth date being in 1963, I am now considered a “Baby Boomer”. The very thought makes my skin crawl. I am of the same generation as my… mother(s). The same generation that made divorce acceptable. Oh sure, for a few years as the data settled, I thought I was an early “Gen-X’er”. That transitional generation between the “boomers” and the “millennials” that gave us slacker culture, Grunge bands and the coffee shops that Millennial’s are constantly being accused of hanging out in. No, I am part of another whiney generation. A generation that was the focus of their parent’s live’s — living in an entitled world that our parents were working to create to make sure our lives were better than theirs. Sound familiar?

Graphic: PEW Research Center

It’s also the generation that invented t-ball, promoted non-competitive sports and brought “free love” into the mainstream. Everything was fair game, everyone was equal and every bed was there for the taking. Now we are vilifying a generation that is the very model of the life we, our glorious baby boomer generation created, nurtured and cultivated.

Iconic photo of a female demonstrator offering a flower to a Military Police officer during an anti-war protest on October 21, 1967. Department of Defense — This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the ARC Identifier (National Archives Identifier) 594360

My father was part of the tail end of “The Silent Generation”. Before them was “The Greatest Generation”. You know the same people who gave us World War II, the Korean war, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the A-Bomb and Tupperware. Perhaps their greatest skill was propagating when they returned from battle. They hung their heads in shame and disbelief as we, their children, stood up to segregation, the status-quo and conformity in general. They descended on Woodstock, Haight-Ashbury, and Washington, DC. All in an effort to turn the tide set in place by the generations that preceded them.

I was sad to discover that my generation is vilifying a generation to whom we have left a mess. If you don’t believe me, head over and read Ryan McCready’s article “Millennials Don’t Suck, You’re Just Old and Hate Change”. It walks through each of the prevailing myths: Millennials have it easier; Millennials are lazy; Millennials are job hoppers, and more.

My point to all of this is this: take some time to educate yourself. Dig deeper than a quick soundbite, or some biased headline. There is data out there to show that there is a deeper root to the problems that the Millennial generation faces than what the media and your Uncle Bob will tell you. Ultimately it is about generational change in values and importance.

Millennials will sacrifice on smaller things to experience larger things. WiFi streaming video on their schedule instead of 300 useless channels of cable on viewing schedule set by networks. They can splurge (extravagantly) on a trip to somewhere exotic for the high value experience. They will choose a collaborative work culture over a competitive, salary driven one. They dine communally — opting for tapas that is shared rather than a bloated 7 course meal for one. They shop with a smartphone in hand armed with recommendations from their friends, family and social network. The value of time, money and friends are based on standards of rewards that are, for a lack of a better description, more deeply spiritual in nature.

When I look at the Millennial generation, I see a group that is more in touch with finding the richness of life exactly where they are living. From community involvement, voter registration, and workplace enrichment — it looks very much like there is a lesson we can all learn about what is valuable, and what is truly of value. -mh

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