Millennial usually refers to someone born in the 1980s or the 1990s, but we now see it being used as an insult. It means narcissistic, self-obsessed, lazy, ‘snowflakes’. There is a growing trend of articles bashing this generation – we’re too liberal, too obsessed with social media and, single-handedly responsible for the decline of various industries.
Some of these claims do seem to be true on the face of things. For example, we are more liberal than previous generations within our politics, and we are less likely to stand for discrimination than our grandparents would have been. It seems to me that this is the nature of any evolving democratic society. We have a growing understanding of human rights, and we want to be accepting of each other.
The value of this claim is lost, however, when the criticism of our liberal nature develops further. When a millennial stands up for what they perceive as injustice, they become a ‘snowflake’ that gets offended too easily. I concede that it is likely that these injustices are much smaller than those in earlier generations. Major discrimination is much less common than it used to be – perhaps this is the reason we now pay more attention to micro-aggressions. Regardless, behind this ‘snowflake’ portrayal is a young person who wants to create a more accepting society. It is puzzling that this is used to degrade them into overly-sensitive children.
As for the over-use of social media, I have slightly more understanding. We grew up in the digital age surrounded by technology. But that in itself does not create this image of the ‘millennial’. It is girls posting selfies religiously onto Instagram and guys flexing in the gym on Snapchat.
But does taking selfies really make us narcissistic? In some ways, I’m torn. Our phones all have cameras, we like to share the highlights of our lives and we are becoming more confident in ourselves through that – all of which is not an inherently bad thing. Although, There are some, however, that tip the scales too far and become self-obsessed.
The use of technology and social media does not make us ‘obsessed’ though. There are lots of benefits to social media. Businesses can use it for marketing purposes, people can communicate with friends or family, and we can get news or current trends. Our ability to gain knowledge is unlike any generation before us.
Overall, millennials are described as lost. They claim we are lazy and have no drive or purpose. I would be surprised if a millennial claimed they had never heard an older person say “in my day, we worked hard for everything we got” and that’s fair. They did work hard. But millennials are put into a position that they have to work so much harder. It is harder for us to get a job, even though we are generally more educated than our predecessors. The competition between us is incredibly fierce and, in my opinion, this has developed us into well-rounded individuals.
Is this competition the reason for our reputation? It has been said before that maybe older workers are threatened by millennials. Perhaps that is the reason for the millennial portrayal, or perhaps people really do think we are lazy, self-obsessed etc.
Either way, Millennials don’t deserve the hard time they have been given. We work hard, and we grew up in a constantly changing competitive world that means we have to do things differently in order to succeed.
Stop bashing us and let us live. •