“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, damned if you don’t” – Eleanor Roosevelt
The art of critiquing and judgement can be mastered by a skillful commentator who can provide insightful instruction that provides positive change in a person, group or an ideal. However, a critique can be weak and distract the listener if the critique is formed out of jealousy due to one’s personal agenda or insecurity. With that being said, there are a number of concerns going in the world today that are being critiqued, yet if you google news articles about millennials, there are a lot of people with misplaced critiques. I am honestly tired of baby boomers and generation Y’ers making predictions about the millennial generation, MY generation. Many of the things that are being said about Millennials are just wrong. Where to start? Most news articles say that millennials are lazy, soft, self-centered, narcissistic, dumb (er), technology-obsessed, selfie-obsessed, and the me, me, me, me generation. As if we are the only generation with those issues. Now I understand the implication is that we have those issues at a more alarming rate than any generation before us. Let me ask this, a generation that experienced one of the highest unemployment rates ever, is it fair to imply that laziness is one of the main reason our generation is struggling to have jobs?
And jobs are not the only critique. Since 2012, and as recent as a couple of weeks ago, studies are showing journalists continue to write that millennials are not buying cars, homes, or using credit cards; Millennials are also living at home with her their parents and using public transportation. The articles stem from legitimate concerns that it may be hurting the economy, but, uh, every one of those industries either failed, needed a bailout, or were practicing such shifty behavior that more regulations were created to force them to act fairly; so EXCUSE US for not wanting to purchase or depend on those items as much as our parents. (Because we can all agree that using cash and public transportation, and less credit is really better for so many reasons we will not go into today.)
And the notion that people see millennials living with their parents as a bad thing is just ludicrous. It is true, if you are doing absolutely nothing with your life and living with your parents, that is bad, but a number of millennials, I would go further and say, there are young PROFESSIONALS who live with their family members while saving for a house or getting to the point where they can live on their own. I mean, have these people had a roommate lately? It is not a cakewalk. I would rather live with my family, before a roommate, and I have never had a bad roommate experience. But if their parents do not care, why should we?
Luckily, there are a few articles out there, highlighting our better qualities, that we are volunteering more, more involved with civic engagement and voting in elections better than our parents at our age. (Source). Yet, it doesn’t keep the perpetual critique of our generation. In a recent article in the Washingto Post, Catherine Rampell wrote an opinion piece about how millennials cannot afford life milestones that have been established in the past. She states, “We want to move out. We want to own our home. We want to marry. We want to work. The problem is, many of us can’t.” (source). But I would argue that this is okay. One of the number reasons Americans are in too much debt is because they are trying to keep up with Joneses, so why is it a problem that millennials view their current financial status realistically and are not interested in the joneses. Rampbell goes on to say, “America’s young adults have gotten a lot of flak for missing many of the milestones that earlier generations checked off with ease. Perhaps preferences for these kinds of life milestones will eventually change, too, as norms evolve out of economic necessity. But in the meantime, don’t malign millennials for “rejecting” milestones that remain out of their reach.” (source). So the question is, if we are changing the social norms due to economic necessities, are we really afraid of risk, or actually being smart about our current decisions?
Millennials are called lazy and a me, me, me generation partly due to the fact that we were the first wave, of the “reward everyone epidemic”. You know, everyone is special and gets a trophy on awards day, even though some students have done absolutely nothing and may be mediocre in some areas. This ideology does hurt growth in kids, because they are not facing reality and living life slightly sugar coated. According to critics, it is preparing our generation to be less likely to take a risk. Yet, when we decide to do something outside the norm, it is wrong. Did I miss something? Is it not a risk to disagree with the status quo, and reject the path of our parents before us? To not follow the direction of the “wisdom” that contributed to the blunders of 2008?!? By no means, do I believe the previous generations did not accomplish many things, and provide a pathway for us to follow, but the critiques are surrounding cars, houses and credit cards!
Because of 2008, there should be excitement that this current generation is thinking and creating our own solutions, options, and situations differently. The gift that technology has given us, is that we can research and have access to information to fully understand something without necessarily personally experiencing it. This gives us the ability to innovate and make judgements regarding the things that have happened before us, and that is a good thing, but baby boomers have a big problem with this. Being somewhat of traditionalist, I think the best combination is a mix of tradition and innovation. You cannot live on tradition alone, nor can you live blindly with no acknowledgment of history either.
Malcolm X says, “If you have no critics, you’ll likely have no success”. So to some degree, we are doing something right, to receive such staunch criticism. But if we just look to our political system, on both sides of the aisle, the top leadership that was voted after the mid-term elections have all be in office for over 30 years and refuse to step down and let the younger generations change the world, and that’s where the critique should be fully, but only a few speak up. So I guess Malcolm was right.