I’m here to defend my favourite generation. The Millennials often get a bad rap, particularly from the Baby Boomers. The whole “kids these days!” thing is getting old.
First to clarify, let’s distinguish the generations:
On social media, and in almost all conversations that include people over the age of 50, I tend to hear comments like the Millennials are entitled, an award-for-everything generation, who take offence to everything and have hurt feelings. They are depicted as over-educated, unmotivated and unemployable lazy kids still living in their parent’s basement.
But I’d like to offer another side.
I happen to know, be acquainted with, work with, am friends with, or related to quite a few Millennials.
In fact, even though I am a Gen X, I often consider myself an over-aged Millennial. My thinking is more aligned with theirs, I care about the world, and I believe in the power of diversity, change, and sustainability. I also have similar experiences to many of them, namely, trying to enter the workforce in our current economy. I can see things from both sides, but I promise you, 99% of the time, I will side with the younger generation.
It is a myth nowadays that a good education automatically converts into a well-paying, full-time job with benefits and security. The Millennials aren’t lazy because they don’t work full-time. The economy has changed, and these jobs rarely exist anymore. The typical Millennial is either working multiple part-time minimum wage jobs or going from short-term contract to contract. It’s not a Millennial problem, it’s an economy problem.
After returning to university and graduating in 2017 with both a Bachelor and a Master’s degree, I can confirm how hard it is to find a quality job. I can’t seem to get either a low-paying or entry-level job because I’m far too educated and over-qualified and I can’t get a good job because I don’t have enough of their version of qualifying experience (even though I do!). All the gates are closed. It’s labelled a Millennial problem because they are the ones entering the economy in mass. It’s not a Millennial problem, it’s an economy problem.
Millennials also care about the individual. They care about inclusivity. They care about others, in a way our generation just, just... never has. They accept diversity and differences, they embrace the unknown, the new, and the difficult to define. They advocate for human rights, equality, and acceptance. They believe in calling out unacceptable sexist and racist behaviour (#metoo), corrupt politics, and challenging big industry’s detrimental economical and environmental policies. They know it’s not just plastic straws responsible for the world’s demise.
Why is this so disturbing and unacceptable to non-Millennials?
For those who can, they are starting social enterprises in record number. They believe in a new business model, measured not only in dollars, but in social impact and sustainability. They want to protect the world, and why wouldn’t they, it’s theirs to inherit long after we’re all dead. They are creative and innovative, looking at alternative solutions to old latitudinous problems that the older generations refuse to even acknowledge exist.
For those of you who don’t think highly of Millennials, I suggest you get to know some. Have a real conversation with them. Don’t just tell them they are lazy, that it can’t be done their way, while criticizing them for thinking differently from you. Listen to them. Ask them what they see in their future, the future after you are gone, and I almost guarantee it looks nothing like your future did when you were their age.
Then at the end of the conversation, get out of their way, because those Millennials... they’re not only going to save the world, they’re going to make it a better place.