I have officially reached my limit in reading diatribes about how my generation is the laziest, most entitled, narcissistic group of humans to ever walk the earth. My breaking point came in the form of Christy Wampole’s New York Times article, "How to Live Without Irony". Although the essay purports to be specifically about hipsters, Wampole uses her authorial clout to castigate the entire population of people born in the 1980s and 90s. I honestly cannot recall the last time I read a text so entirely humorless - which I suppose was her point - but still, what an utterly joyless read.
But I digress. I’m weary of hearing the same assaults launched on myself and my peers, so I have taken it upon myself to address some of these criticisms. Consider me the poster child for the type of individuals most frequently described. My sins include; two humanities degrees, excessive debt, prolonged parental dependence, unemployment, and possession of an iPhone.
So let’s begin:
1. Millennials are entitled. They were raised being told “you are special” and “you can do or be anything you want.”
My biggest gripe with this line of reasoning is that it completely ignores a major qualifier. Yes, we were told we could do or be anything we wanted. BUT we were also told “you can do or be anything you want IF you work hard to achieve it”. We’re not passively awaiting fame and fortune. Working hard and earning success was always part of the equation. Unfortunately, the reality of the times seems to dictate that even hard work does not guarantee the desired payoff. But please stop characterizing us as entitled brats unwilling to pay our dues. Not only do we want to work we’re willing to work hard.
2. Millennials are narcissistic.
If I may be so bold as to make sweeping generalizations about youth and humanity, aren’t all adolescents and young adults naturally self-absorbed? Isn’t that somewhat of a hallmark of youth and life before bearing offspring? Just because we happen to be the first generation to have social media to publicize our lives does not inherently mean that we are more egotistical than the generations that came before us.
3. Millennials are too attached to technology. They are incapable of social interaction outside of texting or email.
WHO are these individuals who don’t know how to carry on a face-to-face conversation because they have devolved into socially inept techno obsessed hermits? I have yet to encounter one. In fact, I’m fairly confident that despite a growing reliance on technology based forms of communication human beings will continue to thrive and remain social animals, albeit ones that have more than one avenue for conveying thoughts and messages. Moreover, people have been communicating with each other via non in-person methods for thousands of years! Remember letter writing? Carrier pigeons? The telegram? The telephone? I thought so.
In closing, the fact that many so-called Millennials have continued to flourish and innovate and succeed in what is admittedly a brutal economic climate (which, I will also point out, was not of our design or making) should be evidence enough that we are a resilient, intelligent bunch. Now let’s stop hating and start hiring.