The Case for Millennials
These days, all one must do is open a magazine, scroll through the news, or speak with a friend, and the topic will surely wend its way to “the problem with Millennials.” Technically, the Millennials are the demographic with a birth year beginning in 1980 and ending in the early 2000’s. They follow Generation X’ers and are referred to as “Echo Boomers.”
I, for one, am fed up with the complaints lobbed against this group of adults. I read that they are self-centered, that they know how to text, but don’t pick up a phone, that they are not team players and float from job to job on a regular basis. This only skims the surface of Millennial bashing: they are taking an awfully long time to grow up, are refusing to emigrate from urban areas to suburbs, they insist on “safe spaces” and require kid gloves in college. Indeed, these folks spend enormous sums of funds on avocado toast, have very particular tastes in vegan food and the like, and insist on “pour overs” for their coffee of choice. After spending all of this money on specialty foods, they complain about being broke, and run to Mom and Dad.
Come on people. I’m talking to you, Baby Boomers. Let’s get real. I’d like to take a trip to the not-to-distant past: the past of the Baby Boomer, the DINKS, the YUPPIES. Let us not forget our own unrivaled reputation. How can you forget the criticism heaped upon our own generation? We were born between the end of World War II and the late 1960’s. We rejected the values of our elders, protested Vietnam and wore ripped Levis blue jeans. Yet we wound up becoming the wealthiest, most active and most fit generation to date. We increased consumerism, and were criticized for our excess. We thought of ourselves as a “special” generation. We were the first generation to grow up with television, influencing advertising, aimed right at us. And what was wrong with all of this? We were self-centered (sound familiar?), refused to grow up, and postponed having children. We basked in our professionalism, our success, our double-incomes. Compared to our parents, who married young and had children in their 20’s, we stretched out our adolescence as far as we could, indulging in income-fueled lifestyles.
So the Millennials like their avocado toast—we indulged in fancy triple cream cheeses and became wine connoisseurs just to spite our whiskey-drinking parents. The Millennials shop in vintage and consignment shops. This should put us to shame! We were the generation to embrace labels—starting with those oh-so-famous Brooke Shields Calvin Klein jeans. Trendy nightclubs, hot restaurants, fancy cars? We invented them. We are the disposable generation. Does your closet look too crowded? Don’t worry—you will feel zen-like if you toss it all and start from scratch.
Still smarting from some of the Baby Boomer criticism, it pains me to hear similar insults heaped upon my children, who range in age from 31 to 21. Yes-I have three Millennials of my own. They are launched in the world, and live in Millennial-havens: Brooklyn, Oakland and Wesleyan University. What’s a Mom to do? Well, for one thing, I take great pride in their accomplishments. I see how frugally they live to make a go of it in their hip neighborhoods. Yes, their rent is sky high, but I remember my parents blanching at what I paid in rent when I moved to the Big Apple.
The Millennials are too connected to social media and the Internet, the criticism goes on. Hey folks–It was accessible to them, growing up. What did we expect? That they would begin typing papers on their MAC’s in elementary school, text friends and set up Facebook accounts only to ditch all of this when they began to work? No, Boomers, that’s not how it works. Think back—what was new and revolutionary in our day? You’ve got it! Television. Television was going to supersede books and radio. There was a time when MTV threatened to obliterate the radio, and the concept of listening to music. All of this concern was nonsense. Books have not disappeared, and music holds a greater part of our hearts than ever before. Let’s give our Millennials a chance to balance their lives too. The 20’s are a notoriously difficult decade. One must find oneself and set the course for a future that looms, but is a bit murky. Down the road, I feel confident that my children will limit the Internet and television for their children, just the way that I did. After all, we did raise them with our values. Some of that must have sunk in!
Rather than bash the generation of young adults finding their way, let us celebrate and support them. Accept who they are and appreciate their talents. Yes—they can do wonders with technology and if we are honest, we are a wee bit jealous of this. Accept who you are, Boomers, and take this wonderful generation under your wings. They are thrifty, eco-conscious, and well educated. They came of age during a tough recession and are still trying to find their way out of that hole. They live in cities, take the subway and reduce the carbon footprint. They are much more conscious of their impact on the universe than we ever were, and will make their mark, just as we did.
Millennials, live your dreams, make a difference, and ignore the critics. I, for one, am on your side.