Millennial, noun: “a person born in the 1980s or 1990s” according to merriam-webster.com
Entitled (“special snowflakes”), narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused, lazy – only some of the words used by the older generation to describe the millennials. Is it true? Are millennials truly believing that they are so deserving? Do we love ourselves far too much than we should? Only care for ourselves and ourselves alone and disregard everyone else around us? Do we lack the drive to think for ourselves and create a world of our own? Unwilling to work and achieve?
Considering that I fall under this “millennial” category, if I had been asked what I think about millennials, I would describe them as determined, focused, hard-working achievers. But perhaps I’m being biased, although, on what basis?
I don’t think it’s fair to label a whole generation but I thought I’d look further into it and explore why the older generation feel obliged to attack us with such words. And, let’s not forget who raised us…
So where does the problem lie? Do both parties share the blame equally? Or are the millennials truly a pain in the buttocks. Or – perhaps – are the older generation a bunch of disgruntled people who are longing for their youth and are maybe feeling envious?
If I could breakdown the three major issues in today’s society that the millennials are facing they’d be as follows: hypocrisy, technology and impatience.
Why do I say hypocrisy? Well, like I have said before, let’s not forget who raised the millennials. Let’s rewind to about 20+ years ago. Jobs were readily available. College fees were not sky-high and our parents’ generation had the flexibility to do whatever they pleased with their life. They did not have the pressure of planning their lives ahead; they didn’t grow up during a major economic depression, they didn’t need to get an education to secure their futures and many jobs didn’t request a degree or work experience as minimal requirements. So, when the generation criticising the millennials claim that we are lazy and entitled it baffles me. We cannot afford to be lazy, we cannot afford to miss out on a third level education and even worse, some of us cannot afford the education itself. Despite the financial rut that we’re currently living in (FYI caused by generation X), millennials have set the highest record for completing second level and third level education. So when we graduate or are working part-time jobs to pay rent, bills and college fees, when we complain about not being paid enough, it’s not because we’re “entitled”, it’s because we genuinely do deserve it. We deserve to be awarded for the copious amount of work we put in. Despite being hard-working, focused and independent, some of our parents still treat us like we are clueless children; or give us that “special” treatment that both generation X and the baby boomers believe to make us the special snowflakes that we are… I guess it’s a parental instinct to treat your child better than you have been treated but surely the generations before us understand this is not our fault.
Technology; a big issue is how dependent we have become on technology. From phones that never leave our hands, to TVs at home and even laptops and tablets at college or in the workplace. Technology has become such a fundamental part of our lives, so much so, that it’s quite impossible to spend a day without technology. We need it, be it for assignments, catching up with friends or making an urgent booking. So, where does the problem lie? Everywhere.
Dependent is one word to describe our relationship with technology, but I would go as far as considering it an addiction. From the moment we wake up until the moment we sleep, we’re constantly checking in on our social media; “Joe likes your profile photo”, “You have a new match!”, “Ste has sent a snapchat”, “Rachel has started following you.” Those are a few examples of the notifications we strive for over social media and there’s actually a scientific reasoning behind that. If you didn’t know, the reason these notifications are so satisfying to us, is because these interactions trigger the release of dopamine in our brains – a chemical associated with pleasure. So, can anyone blame us for continuously checking our phones, posting photos and status updates? Is it fair that it has become a marketing strategy to use such a method to appeal to the young generation? The problem is, dopamine can become addictive. Since social media provides us with that instant dose of dopamine, some millennials are becoming social-media-addicts, no different to an illegal substance addiction. It has become almost like a coping mechanism, to interact on social media in an attempt to pick ourselves up. Some people would rather the temporary dopamine kick than to actually deal with their lives by talking to someone about it. Other people would rather spend their time on their phones rather than time with real people.
We could also argue about the benefits of technology and social media – such as how it has connected us to the whole world and has given us easier access to information, meaning we are more educated and the news we receive comes from various sources which eliminates the bias of local news – but that’s a topic for another day!
But, social media is not strictly limited to millennials. In fact, it goes without saying, the older generation also use social media but for some bizarre reasons, “millennials are self-absorbed” when they’re posting photos and other content to social networks. “Back in our day, this would have never happened”, really though? I mean, I would have never guessed that a 20-30 something year old in the 1960s – 1970s did not plaster their photos all over Snapchat and Facebook – BREAKING NEWS!!! – let’s all be adults here, most of them would have done the same if they had the gadgets for it. This is what young adults do, they seek validation and enjoy “over”-sharing.
Of course, with technology-induced dopamine having a huge impact on our lives, we have become a generation that requires instant gratification. We have become so accustomed to that instant reply on messenger, the speedy likes on our photos, the ease of having something ordered and at our doors the following or – in some instances – the same day… We’re living in a fast-paced world with high demands for instant result and so that proves problematic when it comes to relationships with our family, friends and loved ones. We’re so used to things happening so rapidly that we often fail to build those relationships because relationships take time and effort. They require our full attention and they don’t give you instant gratification from the very beginning. Relationships have rough patches, fall outs, make outs; they’re long, intimate journeys – something we’re not comfortably familiar with and so we have to endure a lot of trouble when it comes to them. If you’re a millennial and have ever asked yourself why you can’t seem to find a relationship as intimate as those in your grandparents time, this is exactly why. We have become an impatient generation and whilst relationships do happen, genuine and long-lasting ones are definitely not as easy to come by (not that they have ever been). But let’s not restrict it to romantic relationships, even relationships with our parents and friends are suffering. All it takes for some of us is one small disagreement and off we go on a rampage of how unfair life is!
Despite the odds being against us millennials, we’re actually a bunch of “decent” people, if I must say so myself. We’re a more understanding, more diverse generation (interracial marriages, LGBTQ+ rights, etc…). We are open-minded about a variety of different political issues. We’re more hungry for making our own world and not following the crowds like the generations before us. It’s millennials who are protesting for basic human rights, it’s millennials that are fighting for equality, it’s millennials who are making a difference. Despite criticism, we – unlike the generations before us – are making an impact, a move in the right direction. So, can you blame us?
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