The term 'millennial' should not be an insult
December 7, 2016
In the age of social media, no one has to look too hard to come across an unprecedented amount of opinions against a certain group of people who were born around the years of 1980 and 2000.
This group of people of course are millennials, and are aptly named due to the fact that they are the first group of kids to come of age in the new millennium, according to the Pew Research Center.
Characteristics of this generation, according to National Public Radio, include being technology natives, being the most racially diverse generation, marrying late or not at all, having a huge amount of student debt and being the most educated generation, to name a few.
However, generations of people who happened to be born before the year 1980 see millennials in a different light. To older generations, millennials are selfish, shallow, narcissistic, entitled and lazy.
In an article published last January on Philadelphia Magazine's website, author Sandy Hingston airs her negative views in an article titled "How millennials are ruining the workforce.” She does not waste any time in broadcasting her immediate dislike for my generation with her first paragraph where she likens a car crash to people who were born between the years 1980 and 2000.
She says, “As a boomer, I have a special interest in millennials. It’s the same sort of interest I have in car wrecks: I don’t want to see what’s going on, but I can’t look away.”
Hingston further complains about “kids today” saying that millennials name their children weird names, are too polite and that these “kids” are “raised with iPhones in hand” on “fairy tales of disrupters.” She also states that millennials expect to have nap rooms and ping pong tables at work. But it is not just Hingston who has expressed her dislike about the largest generation of people in history; it seems no one likes millennials.
My main problem with all of this condemning is this: When did the word "millennial" become such an insult? Why does growing up with technology and being exposed to the whole world mean that we are annoying, selfish and too polite? Why are we the worst because we were born between the years of 1980 and 2000, a factor that we had no control over?
Millennials are facing a world that no generation before has ever experienced, so how can older generations be so quick to judge? Have they completely forgotten what it is to be young, inexperienced and facing a different world than their own parents or grandparents?
In the United States, many millennials are categorized and criticized as whining about college debt while still living at home with their parents. This is a criticism I take a lot of offense to as I am someone who does still live with her parents. I refuse to become irate at being made to feel badly about this because of course I still live at home!
There is no way that I can pay for college and live on my own all while working just part time. College has never been more expensive and millennials are not the ones to blame for that. Perhaps we are the generation that is "all about me," but we did not get there on our own.
I do not think it is fair to accept all the blame that I may be a narcissist or selfish simply due to the technology that I have had access to. In many cases, I believe, that a person’s parents and often the environment someone has grown up in can be more harmful than anything else.
I do not understand why a generation that celebrates qualities such as diversity or equality more than any other generation before could be bad. Millennials are the future; there is no dispute in that, so would it not make more sense to support the generation that will, one day very soon, have to support their main critics?
I hope to never reach a point in my life where I forget what it is to be young or facing a rapidly changing world. I hope to not be so quick to judge future generations solely because they are different from me.
Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.