People love to tear down my generation based on false stereotypes. Not only is millennial bashing void of substance, it’s also unproductive. Millennials are trying to succeed by a standard that doesn’t exist in practical reality. Rather than attack millennials, why not try to understand their situation?
Inter-generational attacks are not new. The cycle of “back in my day” extends well before the millennial generation. Older generations attack younger ones for seeming “lazy” or “entitled.” In the case of millennials, however, the sting of insults is all encompassing.
Commentary from articles and videos paint a nasty picture. Millennials are lazy, entitled, don’t believe in work, have no manners, are obsessed with the internet and technology, and we also seem to lack ethics or values.
Millennials are the sum of a valueless age, if you believe the commentary. Few of these stereotypes are based in reality. The old cliché goes that stereotypes are usually based on a small truth, but most of the stereotypes are based on no empirical evidence.
Let’s start with the first stereotype: millennials are lazy and entitled. This charge ties in with the idea of “work ethic.” Millennials don’t like to work for anything, and feel entitled to things for free. The facts show that millennials work more than previous generations. Millennials, unlike say the baby-boomers, must work two or more jobs to make ends-meet in many cases. In fact, millennials earn 20 percent less than boomers did at the same stage in life. Far more millennials are in the workforce than any previous generation. Millennials work, and work more than our predecessors. It’s the pay for this work that’s the problem.
Millennials work mainly service jobs for low wages. You are expected to work long hours for seven or eight dollars an hour. Even working 40 hours a week, this wage is not enough to pay rent in many places, especially in major cities. The days of factory jobs that paid decent wages and benefits are gone. They have been replaced by low wages and high demand service jobs.
My generation is expected to be grateful for the crumbs they are thrown, according to some. Millennials don’t want handouts. We want a job that can pay our bills. No one is going to be outgoing and professional at a job that can’t get them through life. Lower wages doesn’t mean less work. My generation doesn’t want anything for free. We just want a job that we can pay bills with and retire on. This is the same opportunity given to previous generations. It’s incredible that critics would say that’s a lot to ask for.
Another popular millennial-smear is that millennials are addicted to technology and the internet. This is both comical and annoying. Older generations act that if the internet didn’t come out in 1965 that the world wouldn’t be obsessed with it. There are people of older generations that are obsessed with the internet. The sensation of technology has existed long before millennials. It’s like accusing older generations of being obsessed with the radio or television.
Millennials aren’t obsessed with technology. The internet would have caught fire in any generation because it’s the goddamn internet. It’s a revolutionary method of media and connecting the world. Sure, it can be frivolous. Aren’t radio and TV also frivolous? These media outlets are both conduits and cesspools. The enticement of technological advance has existed for a long time, and may never die away.
Millennials don’t lack work ethic or feel entitled to anything for free. My generation wants the same shot at economic security that our parents or grandparents had. We are tired of working for penny wages with rising prices. It seems crazy to suggest that asking for the same opportunity our predecessors had is asking too much.
My generation entered the workforce during an age of economic stagnation. I turned 18 when the Great Recession hit. We are expected to succeed based on an American Dream that has long died. One question to ask is who exactly created the economic climate that millennials entered?
Did millennials destroy unions and the manufacturing economy? Was it millennials that shipped jobs overseas and lowered wages, while creating economic bubbles that crashed the economy? Were millennials responsible for cutting taxes for the rich while igniting several wars across the Middle East? The answer to these questions are obvious.
Millennials are trying to succeed by a standard that no longer exists. We don’t want handouts. We want good jobs and opportunity. We aren’t asking too much.