Millenials are misrepresented

Many of the labels applied to the current generation of college students arise from false conceptions about their understanding of themselves. Photo by Kaity Chaikowsky

Anti-millennial discourse seems to have taken hold recently. Griping from one generation about another has continued since the time of Plato, but now it seems many Baby Boomers have deluded themselves into believing their own complaints.

We have moved into a new era in which people have become so engulfed in their biases that they believe millennials are fundamentally different from any previous generation.

Some say millennials are lazy, spoiled, and entitled. But statistically, 80 percent of millennials hold jobs before or during college.

By contrast, statistics regarding the employment of previous generations during this same time of life hovered around 60 percent, even including the draft.

This should surprise nobody, as we are a generation who has been brought up in the worst economic crisis in living memory. We’ve had to work since the beginning.

Another common complaint regards responsibility. To be fair, there is no objective measurement of responsibility by which to judge each generation. However, it is hypocritical to call your successors irresponsible when they are expected to foot the bill for the Social Security that is bankrupting their future, with full knowledge they will be thrown under the bus when their time to benefit from it comes.

In comparison to previous generations, millennials have fewer teenage pregnancies by 50 percent; less drug, tobacco and alcohol use by 25 percent; and have virtually stopped dropping out of high school. Entry-level wages are far lower than they were decades ago, promotions have nearly stagnated, the cost of homes has dramatically increased and S.T.E.M. degrees aren’t enough to counter the debt required to obtain them.

The “everybody gets a trophy” mentality is another ridiculous label unfairly ascribed to us.

In my trophy ceremonies I was handed a small piece of shiny plastic out of a cardboard box and didn’t think I deserved a six-figure job because of it. My 7-year-old mind was able to observe the adult world and see that losing professional teams didn’t get trophies.

I processed this before going to school to take my tests, where I was graded solely on how many questions I successfully answered and not how hard I tried.

We are also accused of being social justice warriors or “The Snowflake Generation” — nicknames that are mostly a stereotypical fabrication.

Are there aggressive activists in this generation? Yes, as there are in every one.

But safe spaces and trigger warnings simply do not exist in the manner they’re portrayed. Only 9 percent of college students expressed interests in attending a political demonstration, and only 6.1 percent of college campuses even held political demonstrations at all.

The protests against Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California at Berkeley might demonstrate this idea, but perhaps protesting is the proper thing to do when in the presence of a misogynistic white supremacist whose only accomplishment appears to be finding a fan base.

This attitude isn’t confined to our generation. Older Americans stirred up debate over Starbucks Christmas cup designs and a Coca Cola commercial that featured “God Bless America” sung in a variety of different languages.

Obviously, not all baby boomers are alike. But we have done nothing to deserve the excessive condemnation bestowed upon us. We have done nothing to deserve all the studies, nicknames and talk shows where people try to psychoanalyze an entire generation.

In reality, we merely want what every generation before us has wanted: money in the bank, food in our stomachs, roofs over our heads and someone to come home to.


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