The Problem With Millennials No One Talks About
by Dezi Hall
This past Sunday at family dinner, surrounded by toddlers and meatloaf, I looked up from shoving food in my baby's face and breaking all the Baby Led Weaning rules to see my 83-year-old grandfather on his cell phone.
This moment had me rolling my eyes at every single idiotic think piece that seemed to have left the crucial "think" part out on Millennials. Perhaps it is just the sad fact of life that each generation is doomed to become their parent generations, sneering and shaking their head at the generation below them. Or maybe the Millennials get crapped on just a little harder than everyone else.
We all know the shtick by now. Millennials are stupid idealistic people that don't care about money and only want to change the world (but they are also somehow very lazy and expect everything to be handed to them- something about getting participation trophies at eight). They are very self-absorbed. But not in the way that other generations deem acceptable (i.e. they want to go on trips and see the world and don't care that much about buying houses and showing growth through materialism). They don't care about anything but that damn phone in front of them (maybe they are Googling ways to stop that minor problem of climate change that the Boomers did nothing about?). They just want to eat street tacos and YOLO or whatever. Basically they suck.
But, if I may, let me say something in defense of Millennials. Ok, a couple of things. Listen up, Boomers. You all have got to know that this caricature of the Millennial generation is super overblown, right? It's like that old razor blade in the candy apple that your generation was so terrified of. Everyone has heard frightening tales of parents calling the bosses of their grown adult children and demanding they give their precious Millennials a raise or more time off or more snacks in the vending machine or whatever.
I am a 30. I am a full Millenial who has had many jobs and many different friends of many backgrounds. I have never, ever seen this actually happen. I've never even known anyone that's known anyone that's done this. I've never heard one of my friends say that was even slightly acceptable. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that maybe some insane parent/child duos have done this, but this has everything to do with them being insane parent/child duos and nothing to do with one of them being born in the 80's.
Also, somehow, as this above "example" shows, the word Millennial has come to be synonymous with rich, entitled, white child, most likely from Connecticut. Do you think mothers in Harlem are calling up Goldman Sachs and demanding their son get a raise? Do Millennials who work on family farms (like one of my good friends) not count? Are African American Millennials not real Millennials? Are poor ones? Because those stories of entitled snots are always white preppy kids in my mind, and there are certainly a lot more types of people born in the 80's than just that very, very small fraction of children. By using these (probably false) examples over and over to define my generation, not only are you defining it wrong, but you're whitewashing it in the worst way possible.
And can I point out one last thing? Everyone has a smart phone. I'm constantly asking my parents to put their phone down while we're out to dinner. Not the other way around. Last week I shamed my mother for checking Instagram while driving ("I was at a red light!"). Yes, Millennials are on their phones a lot, but you've got to be completely out of it if you think the Boomers aren't on their phones every bit as much. Possibly more (thanks for ruining Facebook, guys). Maybe they didn't use Tinder, but the only reason (the only reason) is because it didn't exist yet.
So the next time you feel like shaming me for being part of a group you've decided to bastardize, just take a beat. Are we really being whiny sensitive ninnies? Or is it possible that maybe you guys are being racist and classist and you're just feeling sad you can't say as many horrible things as you used to? (Do you really want to debate over whether or not you should get to use the r-word with reckless abandon?) Look, all generations have their problems. But I'm going to go ahead and say that our biggest problem... is you.