Don’t kid yourself — cut millennials some slack

These days everyone seems to be talking about politics and the state of our world. Even conservatives and liberals concur that national politics are surreal to a certain extent. Similarly everyone in Illinois agrees that our lawmakers are a bunch of doofuses that can’t even get a budget worked out. And, look at the problems Chicago has; gun violence is epidemic. #SMH is a universal hashtag.

Amid all this bleakness people my age often like to cite the inadequacies of the upcoming generations, millennials especially, saying things like “They have no work ethic” and ‘They’re self-obsessed.”

In an editorial titled “These Kids Today in the Chicago Tribune (or should I say tronc?), it’s reported that “millennials have surpassed baby boomers to become the country’s largest generation, according to the Pew Research Center.” The paper then goes on to mention emojis and selfies.

Well, I have great hope that millennials are more than emojis and selfies and that they shouldn’t get the bad rap they do. And those labels are reductive.

If you want to scold this generation, please look to yourself first for who is it that reared these kids? Who set the examples and led the way? Yes, we have to take responsibility for Generation X and the Millennials (also known as Generation Y). Additionally, look what damage we Baby Boomers have done to the country. Have we left these kids a safe and stable world? Far from it. As the Trib op-ed mentions, Boomers “created a hellacious pension debt crisis” to fund our retirements. Plus, think of the debt these kids incur in order to attend college.

These are just economic factors; think what other Baby Boomer problems these kids will inherit. Climate change. Gun violence. War, terrorism and new enemies. A drug culture. Even if you don’t want to take responsibility for your part in creating the problems we face, you’ll have to admit they are not caused by millennials. So let’s back off and admit our problems have nothing to do with ‘kids these days.’

Also, if you want to shake your heads at how they conduct themselves, consider how our generation came off to our elders. The “me” generation was us. I hate to tell you this, but some of what you don’t like about the younger generations is because you are getting old and set in your ways. (Such a difficult thing to admit and we all want to believe we are the exceptions.) A lot of why we shake our heads at millennials is a generational thing.

When I think about the state of our world I can get down in the dumps. But if anyone is prepared to deal with it, it is this next generation. As the Trib concludes, “. . . they are our most educated generation in history and our most diverse, too. They’re open-minded. They’re demanding (they want to work from home or Starbucks) and yes, coddled (everyone gets a medal for competing!). Yet they’re also flexible, caring and savvy.”

For once I agree with the Trib. Stop calling them slackers and cut milllennials some slack.

Sometimes as we get older it is more difficult for us to keep current, to remain relevant. We have to change and adapt to the times. We must tailor our approach to modern times but we want to keep true to our essence and character. So what do you think of Colonel McCormick’s Chicago Tribune now going by tronc? Is it a misstep or a sign of the times?

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