Time, the millennial generation, and youth haters

g9510.20_Millennials.CoverI’m not a member of the millennial generation, but I feel the need to cry bullshit on their behalf.

You may have heard about the Time story trashing millennials, as narcissistic, lazy smartphone-obsessed kids who still live with their parents. I’ve also seen this sentiment in casual Facebook posts and viral video clips like the one from The Newsroom. (It’s mainly over-dramatic America-bashing, some of it legit, but the generation-hating slips in at about 3:00.)

I really hate this stuff. See, I’m a Gen Xer. And I remember when we were called lazy, tech-crazy kids who didn’t know the meaning of hard work. Oh, and our label? They said there was nothing to define us by, that’s why we got an X. And you know what? That hurt a little. It was also extremely unfair.

I was 20 something at the time: wide-eyed to the world; sure I was overconfident in my own brilliance and only starting to get the hint that life wouldn’t be so easy. So what if I didn’t have a clue? Who does at that age? And what if I and my generation were a little spoiled or coddled? Who’s fault was that?

That’s right our parents. The Baby Boomers: the very same generation who would do well to remember that they were called spoiled, disrespectful, and self-centered. Don’t forget Boomers were the original “Me” generation.

And their parents, the so-called Greatest Generation could be at blame for that too. And please, the greatest? You have to gloss over a lot of racist, sexist, homophobic, and political BS to think their legacy is flawless. Not to mention they apparently begat three generations of good-for-nothings.

The whole thing is silly really. It’s not a generation change, we’re just hating youth. I like how The Atlantic put it:

Basically, it’s not that people born after 1980 are narcissists, it’s that young people are narcissists, and they get over themselves as they get older. It’s like doing a study of toddlers and declaring those born since 2010 are Generation Sociopath: Kids These Days Will Pull Your Hair, Pee On Walls, Throw Full Bowls of Cereal Without Even Thinking of the Consequences.

Why do we hate our young people? I think it’s the whole “Get off my lawn” reflex: We’re afraid of them messing up our stuff: not just our lawn, but our country, our economy, the world. And they will. How do I know? Because we did.

Frankly, the world has never been better than it is right now, not really. Take off the golden glasses of nostalgia, and look at the problems of your era: be it civil rights, Vietnam, the Cold War, the Iraq War Parts 1 and 2, and so many economic crises they’re hard to count.

Each generation started and ended some of those things, no? And there are plenty of huge, unfixed problems we’ll all pass on to the millennials.

Youth means change. Hopefully for the better. We should embrace the next generation and for goodness sake, stop hating them and help them! They’re going to need it.

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4 Responses to Time, the millennial generation, and youth haters

  1. THANK YOU for this. Over on my blog I’ve begun writing about what its like being a recent graduate/millennial from the perspective of someone (me) who lives it. Many of us have this feeling that we have hit a brick wall. As for me, I worked incredibly hard in college to become a teacher, graduated top of my class, and I love my chosen profession. But I often find myself wondering what it was all for. To put it into perspective, in my state their are roughly 20 positions available for grade 7-12 English teachers, so nothing is more painful then running full speed into that brick wall and then being called “lazy” by older generations.


    • sarazaske says:

      You are so welcome! There were no real jobs for me when I graduated either. Maybe try other angles while you wait for the job you really want: other states? Teach for America? The Peacecorps even? (I wish I’d been more adventurous when I was in my 20s.) Whatever you do, don’t give up! The world needs more great teachers. I love your blog by the way–everyone who likes this post should go visit it right now!: http://elephantinmymind.wordpress.com

      • Thank you for your reply! All of the options you mentioned are fantastic choices for some people, but I’ve never felt compelled to any of them, mostly because I’ve always been a very stable and predictable person. While some people are more adventurous, I enjoy the stability I have created for myself. I’ve always been an old soul. More to come on that shortly on my blog.

      • sarazaske says:

        Well maybe not those things specifically then. All I meant is that maybe you should look at other options. Waiting on the government to hire more teachers might take a loooong time. And old schmold! You have plenty of time for that when you’re, well, old. 🙂 Anyway, I’ll be interested to read your thoughts on your blog!

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