Millennials, Car Culture, And The Automotive Industry

Millennials, Car Culture, And The Automotive Industry

Are we killing two of America's most beloved institutions?
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As Millennials, we bear the unfortunate stigma of being lazy, entitled, and self-obsessed, among other things. We were all supposedly born with silver spoons in our mouths, rely too much on technology, and have never had to work for anything. Just as past generations have forced these sweeping generalizations upon us, they have already predicted both our social and economic impact on a world we have yet to be fully part of. Specifically, critics have heralded the death of America’s beloved car culture and automotive industry thanks to, you guessed it, Millennials. But is this actually true? And if these institutions are dying, are we responsible?

America has had a long and proud obsession with car culture and the automotive industry. Ever since Henry Ford’s Model Ts first rolled off the assembly lines in 1908, cars have been the topic of conversations, media, songs, and even literature. That’s not to say the Model T was the first American car, but it was certainly the first truly affordable one. Before the Model T and assembly line manufacturing, cars were handcrafted luxuries for the rich, with exuberant price tags and complicated mechanisms that usually required a trained chauffeur. Ford’s assembly line models not only made cars available to the middle class, but also made them immensely popular, and ultimately, cemented both cars and the automotive industry as part of America’s identity.

This sense of identity associated with cars persists to this day. BMW and Toyota Prius owners are notorious for their poor driving and parking, as cited and actually scientifically backed up in this article by the New York Times. Male owners of Hummers and other SUV are believed to be compensating for their lack of masculinity. There’s even a “Grow Your Own Hummer” toy, which supposedly grows up to 600% in size, and you can guess what that’s referencing. Regardless of whatever car you drive, it is certainly a part of your identity, whether that identity is your choice or not.

So what’s the problem? Why are Millennials being blamed for the death of car culture if these identities still exist? Well, there is a lot more to car culture than labeling drivers. Car culture isn’t restricted to the fantasy world of street racing the Fast and Furious franchise portrays either. Car culture is about seeing automobiles as more than just appliances that get you from point A to point B. Personally, I come from a family of car enthusiasts. My paternal grandfather was a car salesman, and would often bring a different car home every week, which enthralled my father and uncles. They would also attend races on the weekends, and car culture became a part of their family bond, just as it did with mine. From an early age, my brother and I were watching races, attending car shows, reading car magazines, and playing racing video games. Car culture wasn’t just an extension of our family bond; it was a foundation of our childhood. On road trips, we wouldn’t play punch buggy, we’d play “name the model, year, and horsepower.” And while car culture itself may not be as popular as it once was, that doesn’t mean it is dying, as another New York Times article claims.

As for the automotive industry, plenty of Millennials drive cars, as seen in the bustling parking lots on campus, so how are we killing it? Well, new trends such as Uber have concerned car manufacturers. But in large cities like New York, you’re much better off taking a cab, relying on public transportation, or even walking than driving. Plus, you cut back on your carbon footprint, which is always a good thing. Also, cars are not always cheap nor a necessarily beneficial investment. While you can own one for almost a third of yearly tuition at Ithaca College, this isn’t always a wise decision. The moment you drive a new car off the dealership’s lot, its value deteriorates. By the time you try to sell it used or for scrap, you’ll be lucky to make a quarter of its original value back. As such, leasing cars and assuming leases are becoming more and more popular. Leasing a car basically means instead of buying it for its sticker price, you “borrow” it for a specific amount of time (sometimes with a down payment), and make monthly payments during that time period. At that end of that time period, you return the car. Not only is this a more affordable option, but also many people are worried about owning a car that they grow to hate for years. As for assuming leases, you can take on the lease payments, and subsequent “borrowing” of the car for someone who wants out of the lease. Either way, car manufacturers will still be able to pump out new products, perhaps in smaller numbers, but they certainly won’t die.

So are Millennials killing car culture and the automotive industry? As a car enthusiast with some knowledge of the industry, I certainly don’t think so. Yes, things are going to change. Electric cars may one day put gas-guzzlers out of circulation, but that’s environmentally for the better. Will I be happy about it? Not necessarily, the thundering roar of a V8 engine and the distinct scents of gasoline and burnt rubber are things I treasure immensely. In fact, I’m a bit upset that the car I’m assuming a lease on next isn’t manual (stick shift). I personally find driving automatic so uninvolving and mind-numbing, as I learned on and prefer manual, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop loving cars. So while car culture and the automotive industry may change, Millennials aren’t going to kill either of these beloved American institutions.

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To The Senior Graduating High School In A Month

"What feels like the end, is often the beginning."
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It wasn’t too long ago that I was in your shoes. Just a little over a year ago, I was the senior that had a month left. One month left in the hometown that I grew up in. One month left with the friends that I didn’t want to leave. One month left in the place that I had called “my school” for the past four years. You are probably thinking the same things I thought whenever it came down to only 30 days left. You’re probably scared, nervous, worried, or anxious. Maybe you’re like me and are dying to get out of high school, ready to start a new chapter. Or maybe you aren’t so ready yet. Maybe you’re wishing for a little more time.

As scary as it is, this month you have left will fly by. You’ll blink and you’ll be standing in your cap and gown, waiting for your name to be called to receive your diploma. You’ll look back on your last four years at your school and wonder why time went by so fast. It’ll be bittersweet. However, trust me when I say that you have so much to look forward to. You are about to begin taking the steps to build your future. You are going to grow and learn so much more than any high school class could teach you. You are going to meet amazing people and accomplish amazing things. So, as scared as you might be, I encourage you to take that first step out of your comfort zone and face this world head on. Chase your dreams and work towards your goals. You are smart. You are brave. You are capable of achieving amazing things. All your life, the lessons you have learned have prepared you for this point in your life. You are more than ready.

There are times when you will feel alone, scared, or confused. There are times when it won’t always be easy. But those are the times when you will shine the most because I know you will work through whatever problems you may face. Don’t think of the bad times as a terrible thing. Use them all as learning experiences. As author Joshua Marine once said, “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

You might think that this is the end. However, it’s not. This is only the beginning. Trust me when I say that the adventures and opportunities you are about to face are nothing compared to high school. Whether you are going to college, going to work, or something else, this is the beginning of your journey called life. It will be exciting, it will be terrifying, but it will all be worth it.

So, as you walk out of your high school for the very last time, I encourage you to take a deep breath. Relax. You’ll always have the memories to look back on from high school. But your time is now, it begins today. Embrace it.

Cover Image Credit: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1152445/images/o-HIGH-SCHOOL-GRADUATION-facebook.jpg

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Dear Senator Walsh, I Can't Wait For The Day That A Nurse Saves Your Life

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

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Dear Senator Walsh,

I can't even fathom how many letters you've read like this in the past 72 hours. You've insulted one of the largest, strongest and most emotion-filled professions.. you're bound to get a lot of feedback. And as nurses, we're taught that when something makes us mad, to let that anger fuel us to make a difference and that's what we're doing.

I am not even a nurse. I'm just a nursing student. I have been around and I've seen my fair share of sore legs and clinical days where you don't even use the bathroom, but I am still not even a nurse yet. Three years in, though, and I feel as if I've given my entire life and heart to this profession. My heart absolutely breaks for the men and women who are real nurses as they had to wake up the next morning after hearing your comments, put on their scrubs and prepare for a 12-hour day (during which I promise you, they didn't play one card game).

I have spent the last three years of my life surrounded by nurses. I'm around them more than I'm around my own family, seriously. I have watched nurses pass more medications than you probably know exist. They know the side effects, dosages and complications like the back of their hand. I have watched them weep at the bedside of dying patients and cry as they deliver new lives into this world. I have watched them hang IV's, give bed baths, and spoon-feed patients who can't do it themselves. I've watched them find mistakes of doctors and literally save patient's lives. I have watched them run, and teach, and smile, and hug and care... oh boy, have I seen the compassion that exudes from every nurse that I've encountered. I've watched them during their long shifts. I've seen them forfeit their own breaks and lunches. I've seen them break and wonder what it's all for... but I've also seen them around their patients and remember why they do what they do. You know what I've never once seen them do? Play cards.

The best thing about our profession, Senator, is that we are forgiving. The internet might be blown up with pictures mocking your comments, but at the end of the day, we still would treat you with the same respect that we would give to anyone. That's what makes our profession so amazing. We would drop anything, for anyone, anytime, no matter what.

You did insult us. It does hurt to hear those comments because from the first day of nursing school we are reminded how the world has zero idea what we do every day. We get insulted and disrespected and little recognition for everything we do sometimes. But you know what? We still do it.

When it's your time, Senator, I promise that the nurse taking care of you will remember your comments. They'll remember the way they felt the day you publicly said that nurses "probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day." The jokes will stop and it'll eventually die down, but we will still remember.

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

Please just remember that we cannot properly take care of people if we aren't even taken care of ourselves.

I sincerely pray that someday you learn all that nurses do and please know that during our breaks, we are chugging coffee, eating some sort of lunch, and re-tying our shoes... not playing cards.

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