A Positive Monday Post
Ok, so I’ve been mulling this post over for some time, all the while reading the bitchy comments about millennials across the Internet and hearing people complain about them in real life. The usual criticisms are millennials are lazy, self-absorbed, always on their phones, narcissistic, spoilt, irresponsible and whiny.
I (aged 43) work with quite a few of this generation (people now in their teens and twenties), and while there are a few who fit that description, most are delightful; a total contrast to my own ridiculous generation when we were in that age. So here’s my response to the criticisms based on my personal experience, but no scientific analysis whatsoever.
Lazy – IME millennials tend to be oddly focused. They have an actual career plan worked out, they even know what a career plan is. Sometimes that focus can get in the way – they are wary of wasting time on anything that won’t be of benefit in the future; but that is largely because they have so little guaranteed future. Unlike my generation, who took basic survival for granted so instead of planning, could just bum around getting wasted and dreaming of success.
Self-absorbed – wow, young people being self-absorbed? Who’d have thunk it? This just seems like a massive distortion of the past to me. My generation were self absorbed, we didn’t have Facebook and selfies to help us prove it, but the trait was still there. The evidence of this can be seen in the number of people in their forties and fifties who have leapt onto Facebook with glee, despite being old enough to have filled their lives with all the other stuff life has to offer.
Always on phones – as am I and everybody else who has a smart phone (which means everybody), we’re connected to the whole world, a constant stream of fascinating information. And young people have been desperately trying to find a way to avoid eye-contact and conversation for decades, we just didn’t have the technology to do it before. I didn’t even have a walkman til I was fifteen, and even then I was stuck awkwardly trying to squirm out of the attention of others, it was awful.
Narcissistic – there are some alarming statistics about this, that narcissistic personality disorder is far higher – I do wonder if that’s something to do with increased diagnosis though, the same way that autism appears to be more prevalent. To be honest, even if millennials are more narcissistic, it’s only because my generation flooded the media with celebrity guff and consumer “you’re worth it!” delusions. It’s our fault, we started it. And we were just as hungry for fame as young people are now, we simply didn’t know how to go about getting it.
Spoilt – there’s a definite theme in my response to these. We were spoilt too. Every single generation has seemed spoilt when compared to the previous generation because every generation has had more than the previous generation. I remember how disgusted my nan was at all the toys I had, she thought I was ruined for life. Ironically that situation of increased wealth seems to be finally ending, so as this generation grows older they won’t have more than us. Most of them seem very aware of this and try to appreciate what they do have.
Irresponsible – nope. They don’t drink as much as the previous generation, do as many drugs, sleep around as much as my generation (and this is one backed up by statistics). They take education more seriously and think about pensions at an age when I barely knew what one was. Compared to how millennials look to me now, I was a wasted mess of thoughtless behaviour.
Whiny – I think this comes mostly from the PC movement, I certainly don’t see evidence of it elsewhere. And there is a lot of SJW style complaint about language and behaviour that seems extreme, but maybe it needs to be. I remember when PC culture first happened in the eighties, and even though I was very anti-racist, anti-homophobic and so on, I thought that the PC movement was dictatorial and uptight. I thought that it made the idea off treating people with respect a joke and so would never help, but the truth is, it did. I see how open minded and accepting young people are now and it’s beautiful, and it certainly didn’t come about as a result of reasonable discussion, that never gets anyone anywhere (I would really like it to, but when it comes to changing the thinking of a whole society, it’s useless). So if some nagging, whining and fuss leads to us eventually becoming a better more accepting society, then I’m all for it.
As I’ve stated this is just my view, seen from my singular perspective, if you see things differently, or even if you agree, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.