Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wednesday Factoid: Millennials

Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What do you think about Millennials?

Oh, what do I think about them? Because I'm from Generation X I'm supposed to conceive the next generation as a bunch of entitled, self-absorbed, technology-obsessed babies?

Not likely.

Full disclosure: I may not be a Millennial by birth but I have a lot of the same habits and perspectives as they do. That is because I have kept up with the digital trends, have a presence on many of the same social networks, know how to talk like them (at least, I think I do), and have many, many young friends. So I'm not looking at millennials from a distant vantage point of self-proclaimed maturity. Maybe I could be considered the hip aunt to the millennial generation.

(Which is probably a very non-hip thing to say. I'm sure most adults who do not get it think they do get it. So maybe despite my engagement with the population, I am actually the dorky old person who gets the slang wrong and nobody told me. I accept this is possible.)

Anyway, so as a person who interacts with millennials every day, on their level and not as an authority figure, I will say their bad habits and negative traits are largely exaggerated. These myths about millennials are invented by a generation that does not find the technology (or the places technology helps access) to be useful or entertaining, and they are therefore condescending toward and dismissive of what millennials do and like. Older people love to portray millennials as the generation who doesn't know how to talk to anyone anymore without hiding behind a smart phone, or can't even figure out how to go to a library, or is oversensitive and "triggered" about everything, wanting the world to conform to their comforts

Sorry, no. Communication trends changing does not mean millennials CAN'T COMMUNICATE just because they're doing it in a way you don't do it.

Sorry, no. Information sources and their accessibility have changed over the years and physically traveling to another building and using probably-out-of-date resources to find information is no longer as practical as some options available online (which you don't trust because you don't know how to verify the sources' authenticity). 

Sorry, no. In the past people with triggers or sensitivities were forced out of public life and became reclusive, angry, violent, or "crazy," and that's why you didn't see them in your spaces learning to request accommodations. People from your generation did NOT "just get over it" or "toughen up." They learned the world was going to dish out neverending unmanageable pain and they went somewhere you couldn't see them. When vaccines stopped people from getting polio, we didn't roll our eyes and whine about the weak generation that can't stand a little polio while insisting it couldn't have been that bad since WE never went to school with anyone whose life was destroyed by it. It's like saying people whose problems were assuaged or solved by modern developments didn't really have those problems or didn't really need those solutions because in the past people just died over it and it stopped being something you had to look at.

Do you want to sound old and out of touch? Talk about millennials like this and remind everyone how clueless you are through the act of claiming your generation was really the only one that had it together. (And your music was the best too, objectively, while the latest generation's music is just noise. Oh wait, does that sound like what your parents said?)

There are differences between generations, and I'm in a sort of unique place to look at how it's changed because I had an analog childhood and a digital adulthood. I wasn't scared of the march forward because I knew that was my future and I would have to adapt if I was going to participate. But people a little older than me, just a few years older, some of them had little to no Internet exposure in college. Some of them didn't get an e-mail address until they were 30. Some of them feel compelled to roll their eyes at the kids with their Tumblrs and Snapchats, concluding that nothing of value happens there because they've never tried to go there or couldn't understand what was happening there.

I will never talk shit about millennials. You don't have to be one to know why they don't deserve it.

1 comment:

  1. Yayyy. We're thankful for you, Julie. Wish I knew more Gen Xers who were as nice about millennials as you are... And given all the (mostly silly scrutiny) us millennials have to hear now, about how good we have it, how entitled we are, how we're killing so many industries, and our obsession with avocado.... Well, I only hope we're more thoughtful and kind to the generations that follow.

    Would be nice to break tradition and not look down on "kids today."