IT'S BEEN THE FASHION to bash Millenials, or at least poke fun at them. While I appreciate jokes as much as the next person, the drumbeat of criticism is getting old. Continue if you wish, but realize that if you do, you're the one who will seem out of place. The criticism ranges from an alleged obession with instant gratification to unrealistic job and salary expectations to plain old whininess. Lest there be any confusiuon, I'm using the Pew Research Center's definition of Millenial, which means anyone born after 1980. You know, the year Ronald Reagan got elected president. (Who?)
That's an awful lot of people. In fact, the Millenials now surpass Baby Boomers in terms of sheer numbers, so trying to say they're somehow different from "us" is an exercise in futility. They are "us," just as much as seniors are.
Moreover, elders poking fun at their youthful offspring is as old as the hills. Consider this gem that's now 100 years old, sometimes wrongly attributed to Socrates:
The counts of the indictment are luxury, bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect to elders, and a love for chatter in place of exercise. Children began to be the tyrants, not the slaves, of their households. They no longer rose from their seats when an elder entered the room; they contradicted their parents, chattered before company, gobbled up the dainties at table, and committed various offences... - Kenneth John Freeman, dissertation, 1907
But I submit that if we're going quote hunting, this is more apt for what I see:
It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched, for they are full of the truthless ideals which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real they are bruised and wounded. -- W. Somerset Maugham
The last few decades have certainly been bruising. While there's a debate about inequality, social justice, climate change, and about a zillion other things, few can argue that the zeitgeist is one of polarization and conflict, one in which facts that should be plain are challenged, and one where trust itself seems unattainable.
Who put the world in this sorry state? Not the millenials. Moreover, if we feel they are ill-equipped to face the world, the failure to equip and teach them is our fault, too. In point of fact, many millenials are working hard to reverse things. More power to them!
So, I'd suggest we stop spreading malarkey about Millenials. If you actually listen to a person, whether they're 27 or 72, you can get past preconcpetions, and maybe, actually find something delightful, new, and interesting. In other words -- find their story! I know. I have. They are different stories than yours, but finding new stories, telling them, and listening is the beginning of trust.
Happy New Year!