The complaints about Millennials just don’t resonate with me.
I’m on the cusp of the GenX/Millennial generations, born in 1979, so I share some of the hallmarks of both generations.
I know how to work hard, but I don’t necessarily think I should need to work hard if there are smarter ways to work.
I believe that the government should not interfere with certain freedoms, but I also think the government should provide for its people — especially those less fortunate than ourselves. I’m prepared to do my part by paying taxes, because it’s nice to know the people in the house next to me aren’t starving or dying of smallpox.
I remember rotary phones, dial-up internet, and interoffice memos. I also remember that they sucked.
People call Millennials “the Me, Me, Me” generation. The word entitled is used to describe them. I’ve read article after article about working with Millennials is a nightmare, and so on. To be honest, I really don’t get it.
The way I see it, there are annoying people in every generation. As a young office administrator, I worked with a member of the Silent Generation who would tear you apart if you made a mistake or asked a question. Baby Boomers in the same office were generally more forgiving, more willing to mentor their younger coworkers, but they could also be rigid in their thinking and habits. GenXers worked hard (we had something to prove) but they partied hard, too. So when someone says, “Millennials suck,” I chalk it up to a lack of perspective.
Yes, there are annoying Millennials. But Millennials are also amazing. For one, they digest information at an insane pace. And they’ve been that way for their entire lives, through many different kinds of digital technology. Although I can’t generalize about everyone, Millennials I’ve known are extremely resourceful. I think their motto should be, “There’s an easier way to do that.” And then they show you — on their phone, usually — how to do it.
The Millennials I’ve encountered are generally more aware of the world around them than other people think. For the twenty-year-old me, it was easy to ignore most of what was happening in any other place than the city where I lived. If I wanted to catch up on politics (I didn’t) I’d flip on the evening news. Today, everything that happens on our enormous blue planet seems closer to home, and Millennials have grown up in a much more interconnected world. That makes them different — mentally and emotionally — than the generations before them.
The Millennials I’ve known also seem to be more aware of what it is to be an adult. They don’t spend themselves into critical levels of debt. They put away money and pay cash for things instead of using credit cards. They rent their homes instead of buying, understanding that a house and everything that comes with it — unexpected repairs, taxes, mortgage payments, insurance — is for the birds.
Millennials also don’t seem to be having kids as quickly as the generations before them. Sure, they still make bad decisions and get into bad marriages, but they often spend years together before they decide to procreate. Perhaps it’s because about 50% of Millennials grew up as children of divorce — they know what it’s like to be a child pulled in two different directions.
When I was learning the ropes in my first professional job, we learned to do things the way the managers wanted us to do them. I tend to think the best characteristic of Millennials is that just because something has “always been done that way” doesn’t mean it has to continue that way. Having a full time job is great (or is it?) and there are always plenty of other options out there.
I’m probably making the same number of generalizations defending Millennials as those who believe they are a large bushel of rotten apples, but I hope you’ll see my point.
Yes, they’re different. No, they’re not that different from GenXers.
Yes, they are often attached to their technology, but so are most of the rest of us. Take a look around you sometime when you’re waiting in the doctor’s office… Grandma Myrtle is playing Candy Crush Saga on her phone next to Uncle Barry, who is watching anime videos on his tablet.
Yes, they can be self-centered. But they can also be incredibly altruistic. And they understand the power of people in numbers. Do we?
Yes, Millennials seem to think in hashtags and even — maddeningly— say the hashtag out loud during a conversation or meeting. The first time this happened to me in a professional environment, I physically cringed. No, I don’t think that is even remotely normal. Yes, it is lame. But it’s what they do. #awkward
Yes, Millennials have their flaws, but no generation is without them. All of us have our quirks. Like, say, all of the previous generations normalizing the idea of buying a house with a promise to pay it off when we’re 75.
Millennials are often difficult to be around. But they are our brothers, sisters, children, and grandchildren, and by all accounts, we would have been them, had we been born after 1980 and into the bizarre world they presently call “home.”
Each generation looks down upon the one below it to a certain degree, but in reality, time marches on, and we will soon be led by those who are presently playing Call of Duty six hours a day with their best friend on the other side of the world.
We all need to coexist, be patient with each other, and try to see the good that each generation has offered to the world.
Esther Hofknecht Curtis, MSM-HCA is an independent writer living in Dover, Delaware. Follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheArdentReader19977/