In defense of Millennials

‘Millennials’ seems to be a new buzzword, which is often used in negative settings. But what are millennials? And how to they differ from previous generations? While doing some research on the internet there seem to be different ideas about the age range of this generation. Apparently there isn’t a general consensus on who gets to call who a millennial. According to the Oxford Dictionary, a millennial is “a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000”. 

A quick google search including the term ‘millennial’ will lead you to many different articles written about this generation. The first article that pops up: ‘Are millennials too sensitive?’.  This is a common statement I usually find in the same sentence as the aforementioned generation, political correctness is often tied to this group. Then I stumble upon a video by an Australian man claiming that millennials are lazy because they grew up in settings where everyone got a prize, and that you ‘just get things in life’.  Then Google gives me other search suggestions, including: millennials characteristics. Interesting. This leads me to the following article: ‘8 Millennials’ traits you should know about before you hire them’. While the overall article isn’t negative at all, it does make me wonder whether it is possible to characterize an entire generation like that. Aren’t there other labels besides Millennial, that determine how people will behave?

Using the Twitter search option to figure out what others think about Millennials will lead to interesting findings as well. A tweet numerously shared by many is the following: ‘Why aren’t millennials buying diamonds?’ (from The Economist). There are many funny responses mostly explaining that perhaps they do not have the resources to go out and buy diamonds. And strangely enough, an article on Forbes points out that millennials do buy diamonds.  Mashable posted a list of things that millennials have ruined according to different sources. This list includes the Olympics in Brazil, bar soap, Great Brittian, and sex.

But are millennials really ruining everything? Have they even had the chance to do so? I’m going to list some statistics of the USA, since this word mostly seems to be applied to American ‘millennials’. As can be seen in the aforementioned articles, most if not all examples come from the USA. Looking at graphs from the US census bureau, there definitely seems to be an increase in the level of education acquired over the years. So it is safe to say that the generations aren’t getting ‘dumber’. Second, it seems as if there is a high unemployment rate among this generation, however as Forbes explains, you have to correctly interpret such data. As many young adults are still in college and might not have time to work, many programs are full-time studies. Although due to expensive tuition and living expenses, students might still be forced to look of jobs.
Also since we learn more and more about how we’re affecting the earth, climate change has become a hot topic. According to Nielsen millennials are willing to pay more for products that are sustainable. Fortunately, a more thorough search on the internet will expose you to a more positive outlook on millennials!

However, I still think you cannot generalize a whole generation, people are individuals that grew up under different circumstances. And criticizing younger generations is nothing new – it has been happening since ancient times. Supposedly Socrates has said the following:

“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”

We can easily apply this to any older generations complaining about the younger ones. Read this funny list of historical figures blaming the younger generations for all things bad.
All in all, people are just afraid of change and will scrutinize anything that could possibly bring just that, such as younger generations.

Source picture: Harvard Classics Five-Foot Shelf of Books, Volume II, published in 1910.