As a 19-year-old female, my behavior and actions have been associated with, and even blamed on, “being a millennial” one too many times. The more articles I read and conversations I hear about millennials, the more I realize how often it’s given a negative connotation. It wasn’t ever something I really let bother me until I realized that the year I was born in, something of which is completely out of my control, is being used to belittle my characteristics… often from those of an older generation.
Before people started targeting and belittling millennials, common characteristics among a group of people, or “cohort” characteristics, were not frowned upon. In other words, there was nothing wrong with being similar to those in your generation, or following along with your generations’ crowd. But now? If you so much as pull out your phone to snap chat your friends who happen to be 3,000 miles away from you around someone from a different generation, you can almost guarantee something will be said along the lines of “Do you really need your phone out right now?” or “You live in a different world than I did growing up.” Those comments don’t sound like they’d be said with too much mal-intent, but when the underlying message is basically targeting the fact that you’re just a technologically-dependent, social media-obsessed, insufficient millennial, it gets old.
I’ll admit, not everyone from an older generation thinks that being a millennial is automatically a bad thing, but a great deal of them do. So my question is: why blame our traits on our generation? Not only did we not choose when to be born, we can’t stop the world we live in from progressing or developing in any way. Are we able to communicate with our friends effortlessly on an hourly (or more) basis through apps on our phones? Yep. Are we able to say “Hey Siri,” and ask our questions to a virtual female rather than using a 7-pound dictionary or encyclopedia? Mhm. Can we order our Christmas gifts online and have them delivered to us in a matter of 24 hours? Yes, and we do. Were we born during a time where cars and buses and trains and planes can take us to any destination we desire (granted we have the funds for it)? Yes, we were. Are most people in our generation accustomed to going to the grocery store or a restaurant for dinner as opposed to growing and raising our own food? Yes.
Do any of these traits really make us less of a person, or are we simply living and adapting to common ways of the world?
Stop blaming the way we adjust to, and interact with, the world around us on the time period we were born. Stop attributing my Netflix binge at night, followed by sleeping until noon the next day, to the year I was born in. Believe it or not, I can binge watch my show and still be a sufficient, reliable individual when necessary. Contrary to popular beliefs, we certainly don’t live worry-free or obstacle-free lives, either. Though the problems we face might different than those of other generations, problems still exist. Fun fact: our phones don’t just automatically make life a breeze for us. Our smartphones are smart, but we’re smarter.
We certainly have easier access to information and other people than ever before, but why not view that as an asset rather than a flaw? If we didn’t take advantage of the developing world we live in, we simply wouldn’t thrive in it. The ways in which we communicate and access each other could be used in positive and beneficial ways to promote and instruct, but if employers and older generations are going to view our generation as helpless and dependent simply because we engage in things that make our lives easier, nobody benefits. So please, next time, before you judge me for answering a face time call from my friend who is hours away from me, or for snap chatting my latte to my other friend (who is equally as obsessed with Snapchat and lattes,) think of how our ability to navigate ourselves in this world is of help to you.. Or at least will be some day. Yes, we are millennials, and we are able.