Update, 2019: Wow, I developed this post into a book! You can order it here!
I was in graduate school when I first heard the term “millennial.” It was at a conference. The session was about how to serve millennial students, because they have different characteristics than the Generation X students that went before them. It was here that I first started hearing things like “millennials need to be recognized for participation,” “millennials feel they are special,” “millennials are sheltered,” “millennials are likely to have helicopter parents,” and more. Society as a whole loves to hate on the millennial generation (those born between 1980-1999), calling us “special snowflakes” and sarcastically referring to us as “social justice warriors,” calling us out for “being offended by everything” and, everybody’s favorite, pointing out how very entitled we are.
Here’s the secret: We’re not.
The negative opinions directed at millennials are a perfect example, on an enormous societal scale, of cultural gaslighting.
Glad you asked. I learned about gaslighting within the last couple years as I explored topics surrounding emotional abuse and narcissism. Gaslighting is the psychological manipulation of making someone question their own sanity. It’s an emotional abuse tactic. It can also be described as “the attempt of one person to overwrite another person’s reality” (as defined in this article from Everyday Feminism).
Have you ever gotten into an argument with a parent, boss, or romantic partner about something they’ve done that upset you, but by the end of the argument, YOU’RE the one apologizing for hurting their feelings? This is often a result of gaslighting. They flip it around and become the victim, and your original feelings never get resolved because the conversation always descends into the other person’s victimization.
As one example from my life, when I first faced up to the fact that my first marriage was in real trouble and I was considering divorce, I (very calmly) asked my ex-husband if he’d consider marriage counseling. His response? “I cannot believe you can even ask that of me.” He was so offended by the suggestion that something was wrong that I questioned the validity of my feelings. “Oh my god,” I thought, “I must be terrible. Is anything even wrong or are my expectations just crazy?” This is an example of gaslighting.
Now imagine a similar scenario where you are applying for a job, but the job requires a college degree, but you can’t pay for a college degree without a job so you end up taking out massive loans. Then when you graduate, you still can’t get a job without experience. So you end up in a minimum wage job (or three), making ends meet and barely making your loan payments. You say something like, “the minimum wage needs to be raised, people can’t live like this,” only to receive a barrage of old, crotchety white people yelling at you about how gosh-darn ENTITLED you are, and how THEY got a college education working part time and how it’s your fault for taking out the loans in the first place.
This is what I’m talking about. Generations before us completely drove the bus into a lake and it’s somehow our fault everybody’s drowning.
What are Millennials really like?
So if millennials aren’t a bunch of spoiled brats with an entitlement mentality who need a trophy just for putting on pants in the morning, what are they?
I am in a Facebook group of geeky women (mostly moms) from around the world, and our group is capped at 500 members. When it was discovered that two of our members were actively fighting to get out of physically and emotionally abusive marriages and needed money for legal help and deposits for moving, the group arranged a massive auction and hundreds of members donated their belongings and purchased in the auction to raise thousands of dollars.
When another member of that same group was faced with an unimaginable loss and an enormous bill, we had more auctions and helped her get through the worst moment of her life as best we could.
I have shipped pet supplies, groceries, books, clothing, and more to broke friends whose kids and cats were hungry, who have experienced loss and just couldn’t get up to “adult,” and to people who needed to receive a message to pull themselves out of a bad place.
I see us raising money for funeral expenses, medical bills, emergency surgeries for beloved pets, and more. I see us trading services or goods for other services or goods. I see us sending money via PayPal to make somebody’s day a little easier. I see us buying things from work-at-home-moms on Etsy or Facebook rather than support large corporate stores.
Once, I could feel a cold coming on but I was out of grocery budget, and a friend shipped me a box of tea from Amazon. I’ve sent her groceries and pet supplies when her budget was tapped. This is our generation.
We barter and trade, we lift each other up when we need it, and we empower each other. We have each other’s back.
But what are they reeeeally like?
Anecdotal evidence aside, here’s some science.
First of all, it’s important to note that there are some 80 million people in the millennial generation, making us the largest cohort in history. This makes us very fun and easy to study. I pulled some data from a 2012 report from the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
Millennials are tech-savvy, having been raised in the most technologically advancing decades of recent human history. We are optimistic (41% report satisfaction with the way the country is performing, compared to 26% of people over 30). Please note that this data was from 2012 and if I were a betting woman, I’d bet that fewer millennials are pleased with how the country is doing at this particular moment in time. 2016 has been rough.
“Young people are more tolerant of races and groups than older generations (47% vs. 19%) with 45% agreeing with preferential treatment to improve the position of minorities.” Not only are millennials the largest demographic, we’re also the most diverse. We are 60% non-Hispanic white (compared to 70% for older generations), 19% Hispanic, 14% black, 4% Asian, and 3% mixed race. Eleven percent of us are born to an immigrant parent. So the generation that hears “Why are you kids so offended by everything these days,” is offended because we’re sick and tired of seeing minorities vilified and punished by systemic racism within the system.
Millennials are multi-taskers. Multi-tasking is actually harmful to the brain and leads to a huge decrease in productivity. But, you know, we gotta work all these jobs and get everything done, lest we die penniless in the gutter.
Millennials are engaged and expressive: 75% have a social networking profile, 20% have posted a video of themselves online, 38% have 1-6 tattoos, 23% have non-earlobe piercings. The research indicates a trend toward “self-promoting,” which some skew to mean that millennials are self-confident (OH NO, THE HORROR) and self-absorbed. Others take this data to conclude that millennials are identifying their passions and making their own path instead of following others’ paths for them.
Millennials get their news from TV (65%) and online sources (59%).
Millennials may be the first generation in over 100 years to have a decrease of their average lifespan.
Millennials have a high graduation rate from high school (72% in 2012) and college enrollment rate (68% in 2012). Over half (58%) of millennials that enroll in a four-year college graduate within six years.
Millennials have an average of $25,000 in student loans. There is more student loan debt than credit card debt in the United States. Tuition rates are rising faster than inflation. However, enrollment continues to increase and there is a trend that jobs are paying more for more educated applicants.
On and on and on and on. Read the full report linked above for more statistics and research.
Millennials struggle with mental health
Most millennials I know struggle with mental illness to some degree. Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and more. I wonder how much of that anxiety comes from being told that wanting a living wage, affordable college, or adequate healthcare means that you’re being a spoiled entitled brat. It really doesn’t. The generations before us HAD a living wage, affordable college, and adequate healthcare. But now, inflation has far surpassed the minimum wage, college tuition and loan interest rates are through the proverbial roof, and medical bills are the top cause of bankruptcy in America.
These things were not caused by millennials, but after being raised on a steady diet of “you’re entitled,” we don’t even need to hear it from other people. We believe it about ourselves. As a society, we now romanticize struggle, busy-ness, and “the hustle.” If you’re not losing sleep and working two or three jobs, you must not want it enough.
What if we’re actually not crazy? What if wanting to work one full-time job and have the ends not only meet but actually overlap a little is NOT an entitled pipe dream?
The sheer stress of existing in today’s world is enough to give anybody an anxiety disorder. Add the fact that we’re told over and over again how we need to just bootstrap it, because generations before us handled life just fine, and you have a recipe for disaster. The generations before us could afford college tuition on minimum wage and didn’t have bosses who expect us to be tied to our devices at all hours.
I often feel this way about our financial goals. I have a full-time job and bring in extra income from freelance marketing work and resume writing. I make “good money” by most standards. And I catch myself thinking I should be working a part time job in the evenings or on the weekends to make our financial goals happen faster. But at what cost? I know for a fact that my mental health would suffer if I did that. I can’t even imagine the psychological stress of people who have to work multiple jobs just to meet their basic needs. We’ve got people working two or three jobs to feed their families that they barely see. That’s not even getting into the cost of child care.
More reading on millennials and mental health:
- Mental Health Issues and College-Age Millennials, Psychology Today
- A generation on edge: A look at millennials and mental health, Vox Magazine
- Are Millennials Really the Most Mentally Ill Generation?, Moods Magazine
Conclusions (for now)
The millennial generation has been tasked with fixing the broken system we inherited and chastised for not doing it right or for daring to suggest improvements.
If you think we’re doing a bad job, ask yourself how it got this way in the first place.
521 thoughts on “The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation”
Reblogged this on The Sound and commented:
Millennials give me hope. I think if we let them, they will actually make a better world.
Every generation thinks the one following is less-than. I’m a college professor and a parent, and what I see is very different than the critics. I see a generation that is more involved in solving the problems of our planet and our political system than buying a house and acquiring “things.” The students that come through my classroom are highly intelligent and opinionated. Yay! I don’t want a student to regurgitate the textbook. I want them to think! What I see is hope, because this generation is more willing to fight for social, economic, and political justice than ever before.
THANK YOU for this!!!
Yes, just like the baby boomers addressed the Vietnam War, materialism, and feminism.
I so agree! I see such promise in this age group. They are far more driven to save the planet than anybody else and certainly don’t know what all the fuss is about when it comes to race. I don’t see entitlement at all. I love that they are much more confident in themselves than what I was taught to believe (children should be seen and not heard). Thanks. I am a “baby boomer” in awe of the millennials. They are gonna change this godforsaken place!
Well said!! I too teach college students, and I see much the same. I also see the gaslighting they endure from older generations, who often seem blind to the very different circumstances under which young people today must struggle to find their way. If I had a dime for every clueless elder arguing that THEY worked their way through college, so why can’t…etc.
And, for all the Haters On Millenials – yes, I do see genuine entitlement in some students’ mindsets. SOME. AND, I saw that in students of my own generation as well (and continue to see it). Some things never do change.
YES! from a 64 year old.
Seems this person has millennials confused with gen X.
Millenials were born ~1980-1999, so they are the current young adults. Gen X is 1965-1979, so they are late 30s to 50s now.
Gen X gets pretty much overlooked in these discussions, I’ve found. BUT, as an older Xer, I can say my college-through-young-adulthood life was a helluva lot easier than that of my millenial students, economically speaking.
You’re on some shit.
Came here to say this.
Generation X 1965-1979
Generation Y/Millennials 1980-1999
Generation Z 2000-present
Gen X goes from 1060-1979, Millennials (Gen Y) are 1980-1999.
Yes, I was quite confused by this too. I was born in 1981, which was called Gen X when I was growing up. But this article seems to peg me as Millennial. I will say that I had an affordable college education at a state school, and it was even more affordable for me due to a full ride honors scholarship. I also have a decent-paying job and do not freelance or work a second job (though I have, briefly, in the past). I can’t imagine working in a job with minimum wage. So in sum I don’t feel terribly millennial, if that’s really what they’re all doing.
Nope. I’m in gen x and I was still able to pay for college on my own with what I earned at my summer jobs. (undergrad at a state university 90-94) That is unheard of today.
You said everything I have ever wanted to say in a nutshell! great article! It’s like we live in a world full of sadists and sociopaths. Kinda like the big brother teasing the little brother by locking him out the car and driving off, then stopping to pretend to let him in, and then driving off again. Shampoo, rinse and repeat. I’m not saying our generation is perfect, lord knows we got some doozys, but by and large most of us are trying. I think those of us born between 1980-84 should be considered cusps.
P.s. Anyone that grew up in my household knows we didn’t grow up entitled at all. There were no “full house” hugs/”let’s talk about it”. It was ” shut up and dry your eyes before I give you something real to cry about” lol. I’m 32 btw.
” It’s like we live in a world full of sadists and sociopaths. ”
You nailed it! We DO live in a nation of sociopaths – and narcissists. Somehow, they have managed to get to the top and those of us in the older generations who tried to warn our peers that this was happening have been labeled kooks and weirdos.
I am sorry that the world you are inheriting from us is so totally sporked. I’m not giving up. I have to believe that it can be fixed and I feel I owe it to myself and to millennials and all those yet to be born to be part of the solution to the problem previous generations created.
Yeah, I heard that from my friends born from even back to 1979 to 1984. It must have been rough.
Great article, as a parent of 4 kids, 3 millenials, I can vouch for the awful economic and environmental circumstances they have been born into and are now apparently being lamed for much of. I was quite able to work part time while going to school full time and save enough money during school that I could spend my summer hitch-hiking around North America. When I returned in the Fall I put my saved money down for the first semester, started working and partying my way through school and repeated till I graduated. The relative costs of everything compared to wages makes that lifestyle impossible today, but sure, blame it on the kids for us letting corporations slowly squeeze the notion of a living wage, defined benefit pensions, etc out of existence.
It’s totally crazy. I graduated with my BS in Industrial Design (so projects, not essays I could blow out in a few hours) 2 years ago and went to school year round to graduate in 3 years. I spent 20 hours a week in school and another 20-30 in the shop building. While in school I worked 2 jobs bringing in about 60 hours a week. I somehow maintained Deans List through this and still face $130,000 loans that continue to build as I defer them because I can’t afford the payments if I live within a 2 hour commute of my workplace.
The whole “you’re entitled” thing doesn’t arise much in the contexts referenced in this article as far as my observations go. Expressing the wish of wanting a living wage, affordable education and healthcare aren’t really answered with, “Ah, you’re so entitled, you Millennial!” Are they? I thought the entitled badge was awarded for the more mundane, everyday examples of unrealistically high expectations expressed by some members of this demographic. You know, complaining about normal stuff that older generations just accepted, like bosses who want us to work hard, SHOW UP consistently and on time, work without consulting phones every minute, pay attention to details and follow instructions and not simper and yowl when we’re busted for not doing so.
Anyone who accuses you of being “entitled” for wanting basic life necessities is a jerk and you can put those people in their place if they make such absurd claims. Denying and/or avoiding the much more common and likely causes of this unwanted title is also something one should call out. Copping to a few obvious, if painful, home truths is not much to ask, is it? Can this author be a tad more truthful about what’s really going on, instead of veering rather wildly away from that herd of elephants in the room?
“I thought the entitled badge was awarded for the more mundane, everyday examples of unrealistically high expectations expressed by some members of this demographic. You know, complaining about normal stuff that older generations just accepted, like bosses who want us to work hard, SHOW UP consistently and on time, work without consulting phones every minute, pay attention to details and follow instructions and not simper and yowl when we’re busted for not doing so.”
If you think only millennials do that, you’ve got another think coming, my dear. I’ve seen people from every generation who display this behavior.
I am just barely apart of the millennial generarion, born in the early 80’s, and I would 100% agree with you. I have managed many millennials and I have experienced exactly what you have decribed, they want to be paid for doing nothing.
“expressed by some members of this demographic”
While it’s true that I have experienced members of my (born cira 1991) generation that act this way, I would feel very confident concluding that I have heard much more of this attitude expressed by the generational baby boomers or even possibly gen X.
I am a very successful, and admittedly lucky, engineer who works a nice stable job with a very comfortable paycheck in an office where the average age is 15 years older than I am and the only person within 5 years of myself is the receptionist, and I hear WEEKLY (not an exaggeration, this is an accurate amount) “look at [Chris]! He is doing so well, why can’t all the kids in his generation be like him and less entitled!” Meanwhile, my friends are consistently struggling to pay rent or buy food, so I take them out whenever their pride looses out to legitimate starvation.
My point is that literally everyone, young or old, complains about showing up, annoying bosses, and day-to-day life, but we are the only generation at the present that gets slammed with the “entitled” label, told that we complain about nonsense, such as your post, even while we struggle with some of the harshest conditions that the more well-off generations seem to downplay, or even completely ignore.
Please stop trying to invalidate some of her factually based conclusions with speculation of selected examples of “boohoo my boss sucks.”
As a millennial I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard justification for why we’re entitled besides some hubbub about social media and how self absorbed we are because of it. Of course there are always going to be the slackers and outliers who expect to do nothing and get something from it, but I don’t know anyone in my age group who blatantly doesn’t show up to work/complains about having to work/complains about having to put their phone away/etc. All of my peers are extremely hardworking when they are expected to be (and furthermore when they’re not expected to be, they go the extra mile).
How it got this way is an easy question: Humans. Boomers, X’ers and Millenials alike, as well as ”the Greatest Generation” (self-titled, obviously, no one of this era would call people who eagerly and deliberately killed millions over race or religion ”Great” nowadays, they would be prosecuted!).
Each of us has their positive and negative aspects, and it’s up to each of us to respect the positive points individuals bring to the world and endeavour to diffuse the negative aspects that we each bring to society.
Incidentally, EVERY generation has huge mental health issues, it’s just becoming more recognizable in everyday life and acceptable to admit to (and thank heavens for THAT). EVERY generation complains about the one that came before and the one that comes after it (It’ll happen to you!). And EVERY generation belives that it is the most aware and helpful generation when it comes to those in need. Having a friend FedEx some medicines etc. from Amazon doesn’t rate more than Grannie walking a pot of homemade chicken soup over to a sick neighbour’s.
P.S.: That was a pretty vague defnition of gaslighting. The reality is far, far scarier.
I agree with this comment.
Eagerly and deliberately killed millions over race or religion ? That’s the fucking Nazi’s you moron. Tom Brokaw coined the term greatest generation as a tribute to American men and woman who fought against a insane tyrant hell bent on taking over the world. This was real, not some movie. 250,000 men gave up their lives so you could be free (literally). That is real. I will agree every other war since WW2 has been bullshit, but will not let you slander my Father and his fellow soldiers who fought for you just so you could slander them. Read some history books and get off your high horse.
The Greatest Generation was given that name by Tom Brokaw from his book of the same name. I believe he was trying to honor a generation of people who made it through the Great Depression, willingly fought in WWII, and then came home to build the country through its greatest economic period.
I am in the so-called Generation X. I am amazed at the utter nonsense that older generations spew about younger generations, as if they’ve completely forgotten their own childhoods — when their elders said the same things about them.
Here’s a great quote: “We are now in the Me Decade… They begin with ‘Let’s talk about Me.’ They begin with the most delicious look inward, with considerable narcissism… Whatever [this] amounts to, for better or for worse, will have to do with this unprecedented development: the luxury, enjoyed by so many millions… of dwelling upon the self.” This is from a 1976 article about Baby Boomers.
Or this dire warning: “Never has youth been exposed to such dangers of both perversion and arrest as in our own land and day. Increasing urban life with its temptations, prematurities, sedentary occupations, and passive stimuli just when an active life is most needed, early emancipation and a lessening sense for both duty and discipline, the haste to know and do all befitting man’s estate before its time, the mad rush for sudden wealth and the reckless fashions….” This is from a psychologist in 1904, more than a century ago.
Psychologists concluded in 2010 that “finding young people to be narcissistic is an aging phenomenon, not a historical phenomenon.”
My generation, and all the others, needs to stop dumping on the younger generations. There’s just as much narcissism and laziness in every generation.
More quotes and the sources for the above quotes can be found here:
Thank you for the additional reading!
That goes both ways. I think Millenials are smart and huge-hearted. It would be nice if they quit blaming everything on Boomers, though. Boomers’ parents were very hands-off and let the public school system raise them. I am not a parent but observe that Boomer parents are overly engaged with their kids to ensure what happened to us didn’t happen to you.
What is the author degree in. Did she make sure she had a skill? It took me 10 years to graduate going part time. What college did you go to, a state or private? Suck it up and drive on. You created your own situation.
B.A. in Psychology and Spanish, M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration, making an excellent living and still able to be pissed off about the larger state of affairs than my own personal household budget.
Get it, girl.
If that is the case (your education and current excellent income/budget issues), this causes me to wonder what do you and other millennials classify as “basic life’s necessities”. Might I suggest that this generation, having so much handed to them growing up (the blame lies FULLY with the parents, here), perhaps may need to tweak their definition of those “necessities” and re-set expectations in these early years of your careers and suck it up. An entire generation came through the depression and its aftermath, with an even more dire economic outlook than what you face. They were your grandparents and great grandparents and they made it work. I have seen too many really dedicated and hardworking millennials to believe that your generation will not also find ways to make life work, as well.
Wow, Kathy. Did you read her observations at all? If so, then you know that our situation wasn’t created by ourselves.
This is a ridiculous line of questioning that supports the author’s point. Do you understand that tuition is so expensive these days that students don’t have the luxury of choice between state or private schools – a state school might put you 30,000 dollars in debt while a private school, depending on the school and your field of study, could easily run that tab up to 100k.
And then, to add insult to injury, older generations like to complain about the fact that we expect to get paid well right out of the gate. Of course we do! That’s not entitlement – if you had tens or hundreds of thousands in student loan debt, which you took on because society told you the only way to make a good living was to go to college and that the effort would be rewarded, you would expect a good paycheck as well!
Then there’s the assertion that if you’re unemployed and not physically going from business to business (because you’ve tried that and been told to apply online), then you just don’t want it bad enough. Do you know how many times I was called lazy and entitled for not being able to find a job the second I turned eighteen – literally in the middle of the recession?
The “stuck on min wage OR LESS” is bad if you took a degree that didn’t have an obvious career path – History springs to mind
If on the other hand you took a necessary subject like EDUCATION or NURSING and are now unable to do the second job because the first one takes all your time and then some – it’s bloody stupid.
the stupid extends beyond the US to us here in the UK.
This article is nothing more than whiney crying looking to blame everyone else and no responsibility of their own. Perfect example smh
Reblogged this on voronochka262.
Historically speaking, every generation has to take the reins from the previous generation along with taking crap from said previous generation. That’s life. The Millenials are the only generation I see actually complaining about it, though. You know what 20th century generation had it worse than you? The “Greatest Generation” that had to clean up after the Great Depression AND fight in a war that was basically a continuation of the war that started in their parents’ and grandparents’ generation. Did they waste time complaining about the mess left to them by their parents’ generation? Or did they just pull up their pants and do it?
I might sound a bit harsh, I’m sorry, I’m not trying to insult you. I’m a Gen Xer but I honestly see what you’re saying, and I respect and understand that it’s a bummer, and I’m not saying you don’t have any right to voice your disappointment over it, but the thing that irks me personally is that your generation is acting like you’re the first ones to deal with crap brought on by the generation before yours. No one is saying it’s your fault that ‘everybody’s drowning.’ They are saying it’s your fault for complaining about everybody drowning as if complaining will solve it. THAT is what’s making this generation seem entitled; it comes off as you guys think you’re somehow entitled not to take on the baggage of the previous generation, which we had to take on for our parents, and they had to take on for their parents, and they had to take on from their parents and so on, and they didn’t complain about having to it, not even when what they inherited was a total mess, until now. If this generation does less complaining and more problem solving, then you’ll see more positive responses toward you.
You can’t solve a problem unless you identify it.
I don’t understand this attitude that because generations before us suffered in silence, so should we. Our complaints aren’t happening in a vacuum. They’re often 1. a response to these kinds of accusations or 2. attached to a suggestion that we feel would improve the situation.
This! Exactly what you said!
This, right here, is exactly the problem discussed in this article. “Do less complaining and more problem solving.” The thing is, when we offer solutions to these problems (like raising the minimum wage to at least pretend like it’s taking inflation into account) we get scoffed at. We complain because nobody listens to the reasoning and suggesting. We complain because we’re told to duck our heads and get back in line while our friends’ lives fall apart around them. We complain because when we do stand up and try to make a positive difference for those around us we’re called entitled. We complain because today ISN’T “back in my day” and because things ARE different now, yet nobody seems to care or want to do anything about it. We were dumped into a destroyed housing market and told to suck it up. We were dumped into an overpacked, overworked job market and told to deal with it. If the generation before us happily took up the mantle from their parents and the mantle was on fire, maybe they should have spoken up too instead of tossing it around until they could throw it at the next wave.
How can you possibly know they didn’t complain about it? Now we have more platforms to talk about issues, so yeah, we’re gonna talk about them. And thanks to the magic of the internet, everybody gets to hear it. I sincerely doubt everybody in the Greatest Generation did what they had to do without complaint.
While I understand the point(s) you’re trying to make I think you’ve overlooked two very important things. First, since you’re a Gen X’er, unless you perfected time travel you weren’t alive when the Greatest Generation was on the cusp of receiving that mess so you really have no way to know how they reacted or what they said. You can only assume based on limited anecdotes from those Greatest Generationers who are still alive. To caveat off of that, I would argue the culture was slightly different in how and what we expressed about our feelings in the 1930s vs the 2010s. We are certainly far more aware of what it means to not just suppress emotions but to discuss them. The GG didn’t come home from war and discuss their obvious PTSD but that’s not an example of showing more mental toughness; we have learned through years of study that this is far more damaging. That is just one example. Second, and this is a HUGE difference, we now have the internet/social media/blogs/etc. In other words, everyone’s opinions are out there for all to see and read about. That has never been the case in any other generation. Yes, every generation complains about the generation before it and after it; I hope my generation is the first to break that trend. Despite your closing remarks about problem solving I like to think the Millennial generation is extremely focused on social issues and innovative ideas. If they weren’t, then experience (Baby Boomers) wouldn’t be getting pushed out the proverbial door of the job market for the innovation of the Millennialist. Sure, some of this has to do with pay but make no mistake-some of it has to do with thought processes and creativity. To be clear, I am not necessarily a millennial. It shifts based on which source you’re reading at the time. I wish I belonged to a specific generation hahaha 🙂 Cheers!
So we should just keep dragging on and on. How bout we stop passing the bullshit to next generations and take care of it before then. Millennials maybe complaining but they’re doing something about it as well. We are connected. And we have ideas that we are bringing to fruition. Sorry Gen X didn’t have our resources. But I don’t plan on passing the buck.
Maybe that’s because millenials are the first generation to use social media in their coming of age. Had any of the previous generations had social media it would be the no different. And I agree, man do complain, however a “complaint” does serve a purpose. A police report is considered a complaint. Restaurants use complaints to change their standards for better service. In the civil rights era, “complaints” by minorities for how they were treated is led to activisim and achieved nominal equality. To be honest, what does complaining about complaining achieve? I think if Gen-Xer’s learned how to connect and empathize with millenials maybe more progress would be achieved instead of constantly criticizing one another.
Oh right. All that loud complaining in the ’60’s by the Boomers over the mess left by the Greatest Generation never happened then. No shortage of older generations telling the younger generations to shut up and fall in line, either.
Actually, those prior generations did plenty of complaining. Beatniks and hippies are particularly well known for it, but there was plenty of complaining during and between the world wars.
And this gaslighting you’re doing is exactly what the article is talking about. 😉
We aren’t complaining about having to take on the previous generation’s baggage, we’re complaining that the previous generation is acting like it’s our fault. We’re also complaining about the fact that the previous generation is making it so difficult to fix what they broke, due to them making up a majority of our world’s leaders and having a fear of change
That’s the thing, just because every generation before took the mess they were left and just dealt with it, doesn’t mean we have to. Holding the previous generation accountable for THEIR mess is how we break the cycle, and hopefully the generation after us won’t have to take our mess. That’s the way it should be, and just because it’s not the way it was done beforehand does not mean it’s wrong, nor does it make us entitled. If it’s YOUR mess, you should clean it. Especially if you’re still around to do it.
Just because you sucked it up and took it from your parents’ generation doesn’t mean we have to sit back and take it from our parents’ generation, or from you. We are a massive generation of change-makers, and our complaints include actual action toward making improvements in our living situations, like increasing minimum wage and reducing college tuition so that, as in generations before, we aren’t stuck between choosing whether to rack up mortgage-sized debt for a 4-year degree or be stuck working minimum wage for the foreseeable future – neither of which allows for any kind of economic survival. The problem is that past generations DIDN’T complain, DIDN’T fight for change, and now we’ve been saddled with an economy and a society and an approach to sustainability/the environment that is untenable for the survival of future generations. We’re fighting for change NOW so that OUR kids don’t have to struggle through this pile of BS. Why didn’t YOU step up and do that?
So instead of really reading my response and thinking about what I said, you just jump right in thinking I’m attacking you and “gaslighting” you
Please don’t tell me what gaslighting is, as I grew up in a gaslighting situation with an abusive mom and step dad who did that to me all the time. I’m not, and would not ever, “gaslight” anyone.
Here is the bottom line.
If you complain about something, people will tell you to stop complaining about it. They don’t care about your reason for complaining. They won’t care that you have more avenues you can use to complain. They are just going to tell you to stop complaining and do something about whatever it is you’re complaining about. Complaining just drives people away and doesn’t make them hear you.
And that 60s generation, to the person who said that, yes, that happened, however, I didn’t count that because I didn’t think it was fair to compare Millenials with the crazy 60s domestic terrorists. I didn’t think you would want to be compared with them, because complaining is not the same as actually blowing things up to get your way, and I have the confidence that Millenials won’t resort to that.
Cheers to all of you as well 🙂
Reblogged this on Fencing With Ink and commented:
Some excellent thoughts on the millennial generation.
“The generations before us HAD a living wage, affordable college, and adequate healthcare.” Hmm. I guess you’ve never heard of The Great Depression. THAT generation didn’t even HAVE a minimum wage, let alone a living wage. Less than a hundred years ago. Just saying
Okay, you found the one generation in the last 100 years that experienced an extended hardship…and by the way the Great Depression lasted a decade, less time than it takes for Millennials to pay off college loans. Second, it’s not the survivors of the Great Depression that are bashing Millennials-it’s honestly the Baby Boomers and to some degree, the Gen X’ers.
Baby Boomers don’t have ANY room to talk, what with the explosion of the middle class and the comfortable lives the majority of the generation has had access to. Look, the Great Depression was the most extreme and horrible economic crash in our country’s history. It was devastating and I’m not attempting to downplay it. However, when your first argument is to use evidence from a pre WWII America that’s pretty sad. I would hope in 100 years we could have come a lot further.
If you don’t think the longterm issues facing Millennials are worse than the ones the Gen X’ers, Baby Boomers, and Greatest Generation had to face then you are either blind or disengaged. Before you talk about WWII, as terrible as a war is (and I would know, I’ve deployed twice for this country), it led to a massive economic boom at home and the middle class was born. Millennials aren’t asking for handouts. They’re asking for the generations who SHOULD be mentoring them to stop bashing them about problems they didn’t create but are forced to figure out. It’s called empathy.
We don’t mean every generation before us, we’re mostly referring to baby-boomers.
It’s really painful when people like Wes Hicks fail to comprehend the moral of the story. Lemme break it down.
Worrying, stressful, overworked lives are bad. Only stupid people work as slaves. That is what your life has been. I’m dating a guy just like you and he is FULL OF REGRET for his waste of an existance. People like me have children who still love and respect them for actually being around when they’re young. People like him do not.
SEE the DIFFERENCE????
Millenials don’t want to live your life because it sucks!!!
**** that noise!
Great article. I grew up poor and I don’t think millenials are entitled. I have no desire to jump on a gravy train for supposed happiness at the end of a long, dark tunnel of lifetime slavery to capitalism.
You are a bigot.
That’s not gaslighting, or name-calling or an ad hominem attack. It is succinctly empirical.
When you said,”old, crotchety white people”, you made a millennially acceptable statement, but every bit as bigoted and racist as when my grandparents talked about the “colored people who just want welfare.”
You even threw in some ageism for contemptible flavoring.
Own your bigotry. Change for the better. Understand that this statement ALONE condemns you of the very thesis your post addresses.
It’s not bigotry when it’s true.
I think it is about time that parents of Millenials stand up for their kids! Yeah, we’ve all had struggles but you know I HAVE NEVER seen a time as bad as this. I am sad for my children, I worry for my children. But, my kids are busting their butt to get by and they still have pride and happiness as well they should have.
You know what Kids? I say that YOU ARE THE TRUE SPIRIT OF AMERICA. All of these old white folks don’t realize that they are being carried on your backs. If I EVER hear someone disparaging a Millenials I will stand up and tell that person just how wrong they are. You are better than all of us put together and don’t let anyone tell you any different.
Mom of Millenials
You made me feel better haha I find my parents say the same thing, that they never grew up in a time that we are growing up in now – they understand that the pressures today are very different and a lot more difficult. Thanks for the your support 😀
I really cannot believe some people’s misconceptions. Weren’t these people from the generation that was all about civil rights and social change?
Very late Gen X, here. I totally understand the issues. You try and you try and when you fail, people are like “but I did it 20 years ago…”
I remember once my mother asked me why I couldn’t save money and pay for doctor’s appointments while working full time in an office (~$9/hr). I went through all of it, including numbers regarding my paychecks, bills, and even the income for the poverty line. She literally sat there a moment then said, “maybe that’s why all the cops in town are on welfare.”
It’s a complete and utter disconnect from the real world of wages and costs for a lot of people who got themselves settled before wages started falling (in relation to cost of living).
Wolfcat, you are right. That disconnect, until someone has to live it, is how it is for them. No one really can live on $9-$12/hour, at least, not in the big city. They need to do the math and then live it. But, until then, they will never get it. I grew up in the 60s. It was hard for my parents financially, raising a big family. But, at least, college was affordable and most of my siblings went and were able to pay back loans without too much difficulty. Now, getting ready to send my own kids to college, I’m not sure what’s very realistic. We’ll see. Relying on scholarships. So, all this to say, I getcha. It’s comparing apples to oranges.
— A Baby Boomer
Not 100% in agreement with you. I do think since I am a business owner who employs both Millennials and Generation X’ers (like myself) i do see a huge difference in work ethic and yes, entitlement. As you stated the Millennials are stumped as to how they would possibly go to school and be able to also work. Multi-tasking is not one of their strengths. They are overwhelmed easily and I can see how they have mental health issues for they have not had to earn their way like the Boomers and Gen X’ers have. They have not been in a war or have parents who have. As I am first generation american and have parents who were in WWII and a father who was in a concentration camp for many years, I think indeed the millennials will have a tough road ahead since many of the executives and CEO’s are all GenX. Anything more than a 40 hour work week to a millennial is torture.
And when you talk about bailing people out during hard times, those of us who are GenX went to school, paid for it ourselves while working one or two jobs, have had bad marriages and bailed ourselves out, and how does one learn if they are bailed out time after time? They don’t. The enabling that you encourage is something that we as Americans have to look forward to in an entire new workforce that is crippled with laziness and entitlement. No one makes this up. There is a reason why many of us say this. It is because we employ the millennials and struggle with trying to give them the values that we have, the stringent work ethic, the strength of standing on their own without running to their parents. To no avail.
You may say whatever you like, yet being in the trenches in the workforce with this generation is not only frustrating, yet it is like babysitting.
We haven’t experienced war – are you kidding?! Many of us had parents serving in Afghanistan and Iraq and some even served themselves. We haven’t seen wages increase since we were kids, but the cost of living has increased exponentially.
And the implication that women in abusive relationships need to learn a lesson and won’t learn it unless they get themselves out is just sick.
If that’s the attitude of your generation than I am proud I am not a part of it.
That’s not specifically a Millennial issue though. I’m a Millennial. At my last job, I literally help up my department and half of another department. Instead of anyone noticing, though, I was passed over for promotions and wage increases because, and I’m quoting the department head here, “Well we didn’t realize how much you were doing until we had already put in the raises for this year. Just do more and maybe you’ll get a raise next year.” I don’t enjoy tooting my own horn. I don’t like to shine a light on my personal accomplishments. (Yes, I realize posting this comment seems to directly contradict that, the irony is not lost on me. Ha.) I did muster the courage to speak to my boss and the department head about how I felt that was somewhat unfair and was pretty much shrugged off. So I left. The entire department collapsed, to my dark satisfaction. I was making thousands less than my coworkers and doing roughly 3 times the work. The upper management was hiring close friends and family to sit around all day and get paid for it. So the entitled lazy are not always Millennials, it just seems easier to pin everything on them.
And yes, I do accept that there are lazy stupid Millennials who just want a cushy paycheck with no work, but I also know my former boss, former CEO, and former CFO, all who are most certainly not Millennials.
I just want to correct one inaccurate statement. Millennials make up a very large percentage of veterans who fought in the longest conflicts this country has ever had-Iraq and Afghanistan-so please don’t claim they “haven’t been in a war.”
Sounds like a hiring issue. Anything more than a 40 hour work week and some people will be beat up by the hours and some people will charge forward.
If you think that’s genuinely a generational thing I lend nothing but my empathy for your employees.
Perhaps you are hiring the wrong sorts of millenials then. Different people of every generation have different work ethics. I don’5 have a single friend who works only 40 hours per week – I myself have a full-time goverent job, as well as a part-time job on weekends, yet I still need to find a third job in order to pay my rent, pay back my student loans, and attempt to scrape together some savings for my Masters program without falling further into debt.
Just the other week, at my part-time job, I had an older woman comment on a sweater I was wearing, which read “I’d rather be sleeping”, saying, “what, is that some new slogan that millenials have?”. I almost cried, because I’d worked until one am the prvious night, and the two nights before, only to get out of bed at five am to make it in to work on time the next day.
Yes, some millenials are lazy and conceited in the same way that some gen x’s are. But the fact is that other generations hear us say “could we not make things better?” And hear it as “waaaah, things aren’t fair and I’m better than other people”. No. Things have been rough for everyone, just try to understand where we’re coming from.
Perhaps the values you have are not the important values. Personally I value spending time with friends and family, and earning experiences that I am proud of. For these I need time, not money.
Listen to yourself toot your own horn. I worked so hard. I have great values. My life was so rough. You sound exactly like everyone says millennials sound like, and there are wars all over the world right now. We are NOT growing up in a world without war, and we see the images of it, and many Millennials are in the armed forces.
P.S. “They are overwhelmed easily and I can see how they have mental health issues for they have not had to earn their way like the Boomers and Gen X’ers have.” – Earning your own way does not stave off mental health issues. Stop shaming mental health issues.
going to school 20 years ago while working is nowhere near going to school like it is now. Go fuck yourself. You try working for minimum wage while paying 20K+ (and that is the low end) per year for school. If you had to live like that you’d go running for help too. Work ethic won’t fix that. Your ranting about ‘pull up the bootstraps and bail yourself out.’ won’t fix that. That’s a goddamn systemic problem that wages are so poor while everything around us costs so goddamn much.
Your statements are the exact line of rhetoric that the original article tried to address. Gen X lacks the experience with crushing Student Loan debt. Your statement referencing working two jobs during school, while true for you, wouldn’t work for those of us that had to attend college after the Clinton’s decided to capitalize the market. I worked FULL time, 50-70 hours a week at a job while attending school full time, oh and by the way, I was only paid for 40 of those hours (More on this later). I signed up for 20-26 credit hours a semester, so that I could finish rapidly and use my skills in the job that promised me promotion and more money for finishing. I even managed a 3.6 GPA. They assured me that this degree would get me ahead in the world. When I finished the degree and approached the minimum wage job with my degree, rather than promoting me, giving me a pay bump over minimum wage or even acknowledging the effort I put in for them, I was laid off for my “entitlement”. I lost my wife because I was never home during my school and then was left with $60,000 in debt, no job, and homeless. But sure, this was my fault, I didn’t “boot strap” hard enough.
Let’s face it as well, YOU complain just as hard about baby-boomers. I heard it my entire life, “they ruined Social Security because they wouldn’t stop having kids”, blah blah. You told us that we shouldn’t expect our Social Security checks because the baby boomers ‘stole’ it. So now I’m paying 5.5% of my pay check into an ‘insurance’ that I’ll never get back. That’s what we faced when we STARTED working, you telling us that we’d never get Social Security.
It was those that came before us telling us that we had to work like slaves, ‘boot-strap’ through jobs that were thankless for benefits that DON’T exist anymore. It doesn’t matter how hard I work at my job, I’ll NEVER earn a pension. Now that we rail against the slave labor, we’re ‘entitled’. It is NOT and NEVER will be acceptable that I am only paid for a 40 hour work week but am expected to be available 24/7/365. I work, on average, 60 hours a week, and I get a whopping 15 days of leave, including sick time. Do you know how much leave my parents got? Three weeks of vacation and 2 weeks of sick time, WHEN THEY STARTED THE JOB. This was the norm, but instead of ensuring that later generations were taken care of this well, you called us entitled for asking for the same things you got. “Put in your time,” that’s what I heard from the day I started working. As if this was some mandated sentence placed on me by a judge, and when I replied with ‘work shouldn’t be prison’, I’m entitled. The “you haven’t paid your dues” mentality is ridiculous. Did you know that it is IMPOSSIBLE for us to ‘catch’ you in time on a job? I have heard the line that “I haven’t put in the time” from the day I started working. It was an excuse to not pay me what you paid everyone else for the same work.
Ageism? Yeah, we’re more likely to be ageist. Do you know why? Because we’ve been told since we entered the work force that “we’re not old enough to know”. It doesn’t matter our level of experience, or our skill in the job, we’re not as old as you so there is “no way we could know” more than you about what we do. Because of this, we’re never paid the same as you. Even when we reach the same level in experience you are at when you tell us that “we haven’t put in the time”, we’re still paid less than you were. I could work four projects simultaneously and support the ‘more experienced’ staff when I entered the field I’m in now. I solved problems they were stumped on in days instead of months, but I hadn’t put in my time so I was paid 40% of what they made. Do you think that this may be a reason I skew ageist? (This is verifiable, not merely perceptual, I have documented evidence of my work)
Oh and checking my phone constantly? Do you know why I do that? WORK REQUIRES IT. I wouldn’t even get it out of my pocket if I hadn’t been conditioned to ALWAYS be available for work. I have nightmares of the thing going off, so frequently that I rarely sleep.
Running to my parents? Do you know why most of us do this? It’s because our parents make far more than we will for the same jobs and they do not have CRUSHING student loan debt. For the first fifteen years of our working lives, we work to pay for school. We can’t afford to get a house, or apartment. We can’t afford to get married or have kids. Our wages are so low that we work to just pay for school. So we live with our parents or if our parents also happen to be poor, we have room mates until we’re forty. But if we fight against this, insist on equal pay for equal work, we’re ‘entitled’.
YOU allowed corporations to slash wages, you didn’t fight for it because it only affected those that came after you and why shouldn’t they have to work hard? Never mind that we have to work ten times harder than you did, you “put in your time”. You didn’t fight to keep tuition at the same percentage of wages as you enjoyed because you were done with school, what did you care?
Babysitting? Do you know why your workers lack motivation? It’s because they are likely working a job they were forced into to pay for their Student Loans. They were promised that if they went to school they’d ‘live the good life’. Promised by people like you. “Go to college if you want to get ahead, it’s the only way.” We were told this from diapers. Now most of us have a degree but you failed to tell us that those ‘good life’ jobs were finite. Most of them are simply gone now. So we make coffee at Starbucks for a pittance, deferring our loan payments another month while we try to find work that will allow us to pay them back. “Why don’t they work hard?” Would you? If I told you that you had to pay $500-1500 a month for the next twenty years while you worked thankless jobs, would you really work hard? Or would you succumb to the same realization that Millennials did, no matter how hard we work, we’re never getting ahead.
An interesting article, although not entirely accurate.
I was born in 1963, I am considered the tail-end of the Boomer generation. I worked three jobs in my twenties, just to make ends meet. You seem to represent that as an affliction that only your generation has to deal with.
Another incorrect assumption that you have made is regarding post-secondary education. I could not afford formal post-secondary, with or without loans. I did take a trade course in my mid-twenties. It took me years in a logging camp to save enough money for the course. Even then I had to work full time, at nights, while going to school during the day to pay my rent and bills. So, forgive me when I say that you are way off base.
I think that you are making far too many assumptions when you pin these concerns to a single generation. I believe that most people, regardless of their generation, struggle through their twenties. That is certainly the time in life that I was broke and struggling, as I tried to establish myself. Is it possible that what you consider a ‘Millennial’ affliction is actually an affliction that we all go through ‘at that age’?
The reality is that many millennials will be productive, and will get what they hope from this world. Many millennials will not. Everyone has a choice. As much as things have changed, much remains the same. It takes focus and hard work to succeed.
Thank you for your comment, John, I appreciate the insights!
I call us BoXers, John. I’m born in ’62 and have some of the same struggles. Every attempt at “launching” was impaired by the economic circumstances of the time. In the late 70’s there was a recession so getting a decent paying job was tough. Due to folks like “Saint” Ronnie (Reagan), there were cuts in funds for education GRANTS in the 80’s, so when the “go go” 90’s arrived the only folks who had the higher degress that made you all that money and DIDN’T have massive student debt were Boomers. BoXers and Gen X got screwed and didn’t catch up again until the early oughts, where we promptly had the financial crisis and most of the people I know and love lost their homes and any savings they had. Retirement? Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!! I went back to school and got into hella debt (6 figures at a CalState, cuz we needed the loan money to buy food and pay rent during the recession), so I can WORK THE REST OF MY LIFE at a job that can supplement my social security (IF it exists in 15 years).
I feel a great deal of sympathy and alignment with millennials. We have some similar problems and yes, we were idealistic and want to save the world too. Just trying to survive now. So, please, when you’re running the HR departments, can you do us old, experienced BROKE people a favor and HIRE us at a living wage? Please. It’s not going well. First time in my life I’ve ever experienced age discrimination and first time in my life I’ve struggled to get a job (because I’ve always been willing to work at darn near anything if I had to).
Interesting insight, and I appreciate it! I, myself, have been wondering how much of this is generational vs an “age” thing. Thanks so much for your willingness to present a different idea and not act completely combative about it 🙂
Thanks for sharing! Lots of us Millennials in it together! And I agree, most of us are optimistic about reform – together, we can make a lot happen to improve the world.
Great post, and I’ve nominated you for a blogger recognition award
We couldn’t agree more. My co-blogger and I have also written about this topic here https://growingeverupwards.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/making-laughter-out-of-life-or-how-much-do-millennials-not-give-a-ht
Thanks for your article. I was wondering why younger people seem so uptight and conservative. You didn’t really answer my question but did give me another perspective.
My college tuition tripled by my 3rd year, and that was 25 years ago. I struggled to get by, too, but admittedly it was a lot more affordable than it is now, and housing was much cheaper. Still, we had fun. We had roommates, we lived on the cheap and had fun.
Millenials seem determined not to have fun despite their problems. My friends and I- we were not careerists, we dumpster dived food and cooked soup and served it for free in a nearby park-seriously, and 27 years later it is still happening. We started freeboxes to share free clothes and items. Many of us started squats, here in the U.S. and in Europe. Yes, I am saying that for a spell in my early 20’s my food, clothing and housing were all free and I lived in Europe. Was I stylish? You betcha, Did I eat organic vegan fusion cuisine, of course but I grew my own vegetables and supplemented it with dumpster dive. I also lived in some very cool areas.
Baby boomers hated Gen X because we seemed directionless and didn’t have “leaders”. Yes, LOL, old people were really into their leaders. I’m glad we weren’t. We were all our own leaders.
I’m sad that things have gotten harder for young people. I hope you guys find it better and easier as time goes on.
I really love your comment. Thank you!
By virtue of my birthdate (1961), I am considered to be a millennial. My father was a disabled war veteran who was denied veterans benefits. My family was on welfare because of his medical bills. I find I have a lot more in common with millennials than boomers. But when I listen to my “fellow boomers”, I completely understand what you are talking about now.
I spend a lot of time holding up a mirror to my generation when they complain about millennials. They do not like it. You have each others backs and I admire that. Please know that some of us older folks get it too and we also have your backs.
My three oldest grandchildren are millennials and they are more like my generation (60’s) than my own children …. it is exactly how it is supposed to be…. all will be welll … we have only to be patient and, for those of my generation, know that we will NOT see the fulfillment of our aspirations but our grandchildren just might.
Reblogged this on Musings On My Life.
Reblogged this on AmandaPandaDUH.
Do you realize that as a millennial, writing this long ass article verifies everyrhing you just denied?
Depression is the ultimate victim blaming. It’s internalised victim blaming.
Great article, and mostly great conversation in the comments. Here’s a point that never seems to get made in these conversations though, especially when comparing millennials to Gen-Xers:
Most millennials did not enter the workforce until the George Bush era. We missed out on the irrational exuberance of the late ’90s economy, and especially the tech bubble that gave high incomes and impressive job titles to people just a few years older than us, however briefly. We hit the market in the new age of the mandatory unpaid internship. Through our first years in the workforce, we watched as people with more experience than us lost forward mobility, received stagnant salaries, and worked ever-longer hours. All of these pressures affected us as well, except we experienced them during the formative years of our professional lives, not at some midpoint after we had already attained some stable class status.
Then, when the housing bubble burst and things got really bad, many of us millennials watched our parents lose their jobs, or pensions, or homes, or health care, after years of doing exactly what they were supposed to do. The entire premise of the post-WWII American economy, that if you work hard and follow the rules you will steadily progress through a career until you are able to retire comfortably, was shown to be, essentially, a scam for anyone who didn’t manage to retire before the mid-2000s. You would have to be an idiot to buy into the notion that working hard and not complaining is enough to insure some basic level of success any more- we’ve watched too many of our role models and other regular folks get screwed over for most of us to really believe that.
Yet, generally speaking, the response from the older generations has been to tell us young’uns to keep on keepin’ on as if livable wages and corporate loyalty and generous retirement programs were still a reality. And, while we do factually live in an extremely safe and prosperous time relative to any previous era- which is something we millennials absolutely should appreciate- we also constantly receive messages from our elders, from the media, from our religious leaders, from politicians, telling us that we are living in particularly violent, fallen, degenerate times, possibly even apocalyptic times. Perhaps we don’t have a WWII or Vietnam Nam to kill some large portion of us off outright, but we do have the crushing existential anxiety of endless skirmishes in the Middle East and elsewhere (fought by millennials, of course), constant talk of terrorism at home, the rise of the surveillance state, the focused breakdown of anything resembling a social safety net, and the introduction of dozens of hugely disruptive technologies that impact our work and personal lives.
Millennials may be whiny and entitled, maybe even delicate, compared to everyone who came before us. But, like every previous generation, we are a product of our environment. Compared to previous generations, millennials were born into an environment that, paradoxically, is both much safer, and much less predictable than previous environments. We probably won’t die of typhus or in the trenches, like our grandparents and great-grandparents, but we also might never achieve the standard of living that our parents had (and constantly bitched about).
So, basically, the problem with millennials isn’t really that we are lazy and entitled. It’s that we are rational. Why should we keep going through the same motions our predecessors did, in the face of apparently diminishing returns? Has working 60 hour weeks and hoping they won’t dissolve the pension fund worked out particularly well for our parents?
I was born in 1983 but I often feel like my ideals are outdated because my peers view the world differently than me. My parents raised me in a Christian household, I do not attend church but I do still believe in the core values and general concept of treating people how I would like to be treated. Perfect example, the presidential election. I tried to imply we needed to stand together and make our society better and I was instantly crucified on social media as a racist Trump supporter. Did I vote for Trump or agree with him? No I don’t. All I said was instead of everyone fighting, throwing insults, and refusing to acknowledge reality we should come together to do what we can to make our own communities better. Immediately I was accused of not understanding because of white privilege and being a racist because I said it we should face reality, come up with ways to prevent any negative actions/activities in our community, and stop denying Trump is President because he is and its not changing. Instead of stopping to consider an outside perspective or acknowledge that there were better ways to deal with the situation, they got offended that I disagreed with them and began acting like the same people they claimed to oppose so much. This wasn’t just strangers either, these were people I had known for many years and knew I was nothing like what they were saying. Yes they are entitled, they think their opinion is the only right one, and will get aggressive if your opinion differs. It is easier for them to think you are a terrible person than admit they are wrong or there might be another way. Instead of trying to find more ways to justify this behavior we need to call it what it is, rude and small minded, and deal with the reality of the situation. Not sugar coat it so they can feel justified in their behavior, because insulting someone or attacking their character over a difference of opinion is never justified. You don’t get to say, think, or do what you want and not expect other people to have the same freedom. If more millenials would try to understand the other persons point of view instead of trying to convince everyone theirs is the only correct one how much easier would it be to create real change in society? Stop justifying and deal with the reality.
SO wonderful of a post! Thanks for saying what needs to be said!
The author sounds like a very typical ‘snowflake’. People in previous generations had those minimum wage jobs in high school AND during college–my senior year in high school in the 80s I worked two 20 hour per week jobs and still graduated with a 3.8 gpa. It took me over 15 years to get a college degree because I worked, raised a child as a single parent, and still had to take out loans which I finally paid off in 2012. I didn’t own my first home until 2012. I have NEVER had a $100 or higher cable bill, a new iPhone, a cell phone bill over $50/month or a new car, $150 jeans, eyelash extensions, etc.etc.. My 25 year old millennial has had all of those things, much of it at someone else’s expense. And she is no different than her peers in those expected privileges although she has actually worked real jobs, unlike many of her peers. The reason previous generations see millennials as entitled snowflakes is because they make ridiculous demands on a society in which they have paid no dues and contributed little, if anything, of value. Most don’t volunteer, don’t take care of younger siblings or older relatives or contribute to their own parents much less their community. And many still don’t pay federal income tax. Representation without taxation is just as wrong as vice versa–you should some skin in the game before your start dictating the rules.
While I want to give your generation legitimate validation for the struggles you face, because they do exist – the article seems to imply that all previous generations were spoiled and just coasted through life – the very same accusation you resent about yours.
One thing to consider is that there has also been a drastic increase in standard of living, and while that is a good thing, it isn’t without its costs. There are things many millennials have that could not even be dreamed of in previous generations – their own computers, cell phones, televisions, cars and luxuries afforded to them by their parents. Huge homes where every child had their own room, vacations and designer clothes.
Please remember that the battles you now call “more progressive and accepting” were fought through our generations, so that one day this very thing would exist – youths and adults who embraced all differences of gender, sexuality, race, religion and so forth. We obviously succeeded because your generation can now take the torch to new heights. We well remember the struggles and fights for equality in a time when the cost of doing so was far greater than you imagine. We did this for you, because we wanted a better world for everyone.
Maybe the reason there is the misconception that there is more stress, depression and anxiety than previous generation is our hard fought struggle to let people talk openly about it. We paved the path of acceptance for such issues so that people could talk about it and acknowledge that they needed help. Veterans never knew what PTSD was, for example. Depression and anxiety were unspeakables. We fought hard to remove the shame attached to these things, and we are glad you can address them openly. This is why millennials think there is more of it when in fact there is just more recognition of it.
I hope many will consider that an awful lot of people suffered and did without in previous generations. I have yet to see this generation work a single shift without checking their phones for messages or making status updates on FB. What I see is that many millennials conflate classism with generational issues. You are addressing issues of class warfare, which has always existed, and a war that has yet to be won. I too, want that to end. Gen Xers believe in equity.
I hope that considering these points will enable a better understanding of generations that went without shoes, sugar, metal, teeth, bathroom tissue and education as having sacrificed much more so that you never had to know the realities of not having those things. We are not laying the world’s problems at your doorstep; part of being an adult is accepting the passing of the torches.
We have all carried them, and we can all appreciate each other.
Hmm. I think most generations think they are special, the generation before are old/not with it/non-technical crotchety sticks-in-the-mud… The old see the young as having no experience in life and their longer experience in life are taken for granted. The young see the world is not supporting their needs and life is coming to slowly.
Those of us who worked a full time job so we could go to college think the kids today should do the same, yet the cost of school 30 years ago was so so much less (who should you blame for that??).
I grew up with the computer, before anyone had one to computers are everywhere. I am not tech illiterate (I work in the tech field) yet younger people see me as technologically backward (I don’t live on snap-chat or twitter).
I really think everyone has it about the same in each’s time.. I thought Boomers were treating me unfair, now Mil’s are feeling Xers are not treating them fair…
Who will say the same thing about the Millennials??
Millenials are younger than that. I’m on the cusp of both Gen X and Gen Y and was born in 1980.
I’m a Gen. X (at the very beginning) and am one of those caught between the seemingly endless sparring between the Boomers and the Millenials. One thing both groups have in common is that they can’t see themselves very clearly because they’re too mired in proving how much better they are than others. I think Boomers had it far easier than they know because they assume how their lives played out as a result of their efforts only and Millenials are far more sensitive than they know because their lives are so difficult that they justify their attitudes. The truth is somewhere else. I’m not claiming I have that truth, but I have lived a little of the life each side has had by growing up when college tuition wasn’t oppressive and a lifetime of debt, but also by being a part of a career change in which my husband and I had to start all over again and jump through the same hoops as a millenial (having problems finding no work, my huband worked 3000 hours of internship for no pay at all, footed the bill on graduate school within the last 5 years, etc. – I lived how incredibly and insanely hard and expensive it is to get a toehold in this time).
If you really want to know your generation, you need to stop living in your own echo chamber for easy validation and stop viewing the world from the corners of the room that suit your ego and look at the whole picture. Saying millenials are more tolerant because they support minorities isn’t necessarily a true. Tolerance is a broader characteristic than simply saying those less advantaged than you should be treated equally (or deferentially as is often the case with SJ types). Tolerance applies to every person regardless of location, social status, skin tone, ability, or cultural background. Where millenials seem to fail in a rather epic fashion is on tolerating rural, white, and older people – and anyone who disagrees with your worldview. This is something you can’t see in yourself because you’re too busy telling yourself how “fun” and better than other generations you are. Sit with other opinions and see how you can validate them and then you will be exercising true tolerance.
As a Gen. X person, I find all of the generational bashing petty and pointless. I don’t identify strongly with my generation and just wish people would live their lives in line with their perceptions of themselves rather than keep engaging in self-elevating talk and degradation of others across the board. This endless telling others who you are rather than showing through concrete actions is part of being a millenial and probably why 75% have social media profiles. It’s far easier to say you are good than to act as a good person. You and the Boomers have that in common.