I once heard a popular national nightly news anchor announcing and defining the Me Generation monicker. That narcissistic group of young people received the honor because they believed that everything had to be about them. They had to have it all right away and didn’t see why they had to postpone experiencing the best in life like their foolish parents and grandparents had. Gimme, gimme, gimme and get out of my way gramps!
If you think I’m talking about Millennials, then surprise! That news anchor was Walter Cronkite and in the 1970s he was referring to the generation of baby boomers who eventually morphed into Yuppies in the 80s and finally into the Millennial-smearing old people you groan about today.
For the record, I don’t really fall into any of the major generational groups so I am not flying the flag for anyone. Born in 1968, my cohort of some BS generational segmentation (that I don’t care enough about to nail down) had the opposite experience of the generations around it. We are the middle generation that witnessed the end of so much.
We are the middle generation that witnessed the end of so much.
We entered the scene at the tail end of the transitional 60s. We only experienced disco as a dying fad (sad by true). The space race fizzled before we could see a human play golf on the moon live on prime time TV. Real punk came and went before we were old enough to understand what it was (but we still loved us some anarchy symbols and original New Wave, Hip Hop and Rap will never be topped). We experienced the end of the Cold War, the collapse of Communism, the collapse of massive military spending (and the high-paying jobs that went with it), and the end of rational government (if such a thing ever existed). The 80s boomtime collapsed just as we were finishing our professional degrees. And then, just as we were ascending the escalator of the new millenium, 9/11 destroyed so much hope and promise.
We didn’t have the luxury of effortlessly riding tides of economic surges and the option of travelling the world as a remote SEO consultant while our envious friends gave us thumbs-ups on Facetagramitter®. We just lived on the bits and pieces left over as each downturn hit us just as we were ready to join in the fun of our older neighbors.
So from my virtual abandoned firewatch tower, I can see to the horizon in all directions and am entitled to impart wisdom to Boomers, Millennials and Zs.
Dear Old People (of all ages),
Stop bashing the group you collectively call “Millennials”. Their view of life and priorities are just as screwed up as you were at the same age. Instead of blowing their money on a 100% financed, quickly-depreciating BMW you couldn’t really afford, they are choosing to blow their money on immediately-depreciating gadgets they can’t really afford. They lie, cheat and steal to get ahead at the same frequency as you did/do.
The difference is that your generational statement of “If you aren’t at least making the same amount of money as your age (30 yrs old = $30k — a nice chunk back in 1980) then you are a failure” has been replaced with “If you haven’t remote worked from as many countries as the number of iPhones you have owned, you are a failure”.
Dear Young People (of all ages),
Stop saying that old people screwed up the world and put the burden on you to fix it unless you really are going to step up and fix it. “Fixing it” does not mean buying as many gadgets and apps as you can, posting every moment of your life on social media and wasting limited fossil fuel-based energy on virtual currency mining. “Fixing it” means changing minds, attitudes, voting and engaging people in meaningful dialogue. You are just as selfishly-competitive, devious and fake as previous generations. Thanks to the Internet, you have even more opportunities to turn those less-laudable characteristics into short-term gains.
And lastly, young people of all generations think they are owed more and, as a group, are more valuable than everyone else.
That’s called youth and it happens to everyone.
One day you will truly understand that when you don’t get a critical promotion at work or can’t complete some 100 mile ultra, it’s only because you didn’t work hard enough to achieve it.
It definitely isn’t because you don’t have a strong enough social media presence or the right iPhone.
Disagree? Tell me below in the comments.
AND let’s talk more (PSST, enter your email address below. You’ll love the stuff you get)…