I have heard it all before, at least a hundred times.
"Millennials’ are lazy, ungrateful, arrogant, entitled, whiny, naive, weak, and stupid. They take advantage of ‘our’ parents. They think they deserve fulfilling jobs, and they assume that anyone who works hard for the sole purpose of earning money money is a corporate drone."
"Millennials are all bleeding-heart liberals—all of them thanks to Bernie Sanders and that crooked Hillary, right? Because their parents could never have raised them think on their own, they just coddled and gave every one of the them trophies."
"Millennials scare easy. They have thin skin and need to toughen up. ‘They always have their noses sunk in their phones, and put too much effort into social media profiles—which makes them materialistic and self-obsessed."
"Combine Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde, Veruca Salt, and Mike Teavee from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," out pops a ‘Millennial’, right? They are a parent's (and a grandparent's) nightmare. God they are just THE WORST."
So now that we know what a ‘Millennial’ is, let us look at who Millennials are. According to the Pew Research Center, as well as independent researchers, a Millennial is anyone who is born between 1981/1982 and the early 2000’s, with 2004 being the latest. That means, like it or not, that anyone alive today that is between the ages of 12 and 35, falls into the category of a Millennial. As a young woman born in 1993, I am right smack in the middle of this demonized generation. (Same age, coincidentally, as Tomi Lahren, famous host of the Blaze’s final thoughts, yet I’m sure you don’t think of her as a ‘Millennial’.)
Admittedly, we have some improvements to make. There are people who are a little too plugged into social media and we do appear emotional in the face of dozens of social inequalities and injustices, but is your generation perfect? Has any generation that has come before us been perfect? And will any generation that comes after us be perfect? Nope.
This is not unusual, though. Every new generation frustrates the generation(s) that come before them. (That is you, Baby Boomers and Generation X.) This doesn’t come as any surprise to me. I can handle mean Uncle Earl and Donald Trump talking trash, and it honestly doesn’t offend me that much. They come from a different time than I do, and have a different view of the world and hold different values, and that is understandable because they have experienced a different reality in their years that I have not. It’s natural. Whatever. I am not going to convince those in your generations otherwise, and I don’t care to.
What really grinds my gears, though, is when people who fall into the Millennial generation (between the ages of 12 and 35) and who throw ‘Millennial’ around as an insult. When I scroll through my newsfeed and see things like “And this is what is wrong with Millennials” and “Fucking Millennials don’t know shit” from people who I have had classes with, or who even share a birthday with me-- like, really? Do they even realize that they aren’t making sense?
For starters, my anti-‘Millennial’-but-still-Millennial friends, you are doing yourself a disservice. You are reinforcing the idea among the people who already dislike our generation, and who will be hiring our generation, that we are The. Absolute. Worst. People. Ever. You fall into our category, whether you want to or not. People will see your age, and say, “Fucking Millennials don’t know shit”, and then toss your application out.
And I understand, your goal is to distance yourself, as a Millennial, from ‘Millennials’. You want some kind of recognition or special treatment as being the-Millennial-who-isn’t-a-‘Millennial’. So congrats, you! You are better than the rest of us just normal ‘Millennials’! Here is a gold freakin’ star and certificate. (But don’t forget to argue, extensively, about how dumb it is that ‘Millennials’ are used to arbitrarily getting gold stars and certificates for being themselves.)
I mean, is this really a surprise to you? Is it okay for an African American to be racist to fellow African American, just because he or she is an African American? No, racism is bad no matter who the racist is. Is it okay for a woman to be sexist to women, just because she is a woman? No. Sexism is bad no matter who the sexist is. I could go on and on with examples, but I’d like to think your supposedly ‘above average’ intelligence among us fellow Millennials, is able to understand my point by now.
Unless, of course, your definition of a ‘Millennial’ is merely someone who has adheres to different political beliefs than you, or who behaves differently, or who thinks differently. Frustration is one thing, and it is perfectly okay. But in this case, there is an abundance of people who aren’t between the ages of 12 and 35, but who classify as a ‘Millennial’, and that have absolutely nothing to do with Millennials. To me, to just write this group of people off as ‘Millennials’, to disregard them, and to sweep their opinion under the rug, is inaccurate and completely pointless. Don’t just make an off hand comment about what you assume people are. Instead, get off your high horse and try articulating things to your fellow peers. Talk to them. And when they still don’t agree, understand that we live in a public sphere, disagreeing isn’t the end of the world, and people are entitled to thinking and believing things that are contrary to you-- without all the name calling and finger pointing, please.
There is a concept I learned in one of my classes senior year, about how the words we use lead to hate and prejudices against people. We call people different than us names in an effort to satisfy our cognitive dissonance, which doesn’t understand how you can be a person and someone different than you can also be a person. We dehumanize them, we reduce them one or two specific things that define them. We call people who are lazy and eat a lot 'pigs'. We call a woman a bitch, and a man an asshole. (Sometimes vice versa, too.) If someone is a species of swine, they aren’t a person. If someone is a female dog, they aren’t a person. If someone is an anus, they aren’t a person. Therefore, hypothetically they don’t deserve the same treatment that we, actual people, do. And sure, ‘Millennial’ isn’t as severe as some of the downright horrible things we call people in today’s society, but it sure is a stepping stone. By separating them from you and you from them, you are saying that a Millennial isn’t a person, they are a ‘Millennial.’
What happens after dehumanization? Demonization. Which is dangerous. Trust me. (And if you don't trust me, trust Stahelski, and the many people who use his concepts in their own work.)
Don’t be a part of that. Disagree with us, by all means-- that is welcome and expected. But don’t reduce a group of people, including millions of people you don’t know, into something that they aren’t.
This is going to be written off by some people as just another Millennial complaining about ‘people hurting my feelings’. Bring it on. I can take it. I choose to write for a public platform, about a controversial subject. It isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last. But a different opinion cannot just be written off as wrong or inadequate or stupid, just because of the individual behind the opinion. It is antithetical to the public sphere, to the freedom of speech, and to the goal of public discourse. And I won’t let my generation become defined by it.