Every day, a new article about how terrible Millennials are pops up on my social media feeds. And every day, I roll my eyes and inwardly groan. Article after article claims to explain how college students are self-absorbed and overly sensitive, how recent college graduates can’t find jobs and are drowning in debt from student loans, how so many Millennials are still living with their parents, and so on and so on. And while all of the negative articles about Millennials are valid, they don’t apply to the entire generation of 80 million. Or in true Millennial fashion, I should say #notallmillennials.
I am a Millennial and recent college graduate. I have a job that isn’t in my field, a 10-year-old car (that I bought when I was 21 years old) that is missing two hubcaps, enough student loans to buy a small house, a cracked Blackberry and a struggling savings account. I have never posted a selfie, and I just got an Instagram account a couple of months ago (mostly to take pictures of my adorable husky). With my stable job and lack of the latest technology and apps, compared to what you see in the news constantly, I sound like quite the anomaly. But the majority of Millennials I know actually lead very similar lives. We just don’t make the news because we live our lives quietly, without protesting everything that happens to our supposedly hypersensitive generation.
And contrary to popular belief, we are actually good workers (when we can get a job). We’re “inventive,” “hard-working” and “competent,” not just lazy narcissists. We may only be hired for an underpaid entry-level job, but many Millennials are quickly climbing the ladder to managerial positions. Many of us who weren’t coddled in college actually know how to work hard and we want to earn a higher position, not have it handed to us.
Millennials are notoriously addicted to mobile phones and social media, which can have negative consequences (there are far too many selfies in the world). But these technologies can be used for good as well. Millennials are using technology to make business and banking easier for everyone, as well as using social media for social activism and charity. Even if the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge became less about ALS and more about making funny videos, it did raise a lot of money, thanks to social media. More recently, an 8-year-old burn victim who lost her family due to arson asked for Christmas cards for Christmas. The story spread quickly and she got 195,000 cards in just one day, as well as a trip to Disney World. Fifteen years ago, that little girl wouldn’t have gotten nearly as many cards. So despite Millennials getting a bad rap for their obsession with technology and social media, some good has come from it.
Millennials aren’t the first generation to be hated (remember that Baby Boomers had violent college protests as well) and we won’t be the last. And some of the criticisms of us are valid. But it’s misleading to make such a diverse generation a stand-in for more widespread cultural and social issues. What’s really missing from the onslaught of articles about Millennials’ many problems are thoughtful solutions to them. Maybe that’s what my generation should focus on: stepping up and finding those solutions. And ignoring the criticism of those who would write off a generation before we’ve even had a chance to prove ourselves.
This article was originally published at Acculturated and is republished here with permission. The views expressed by the author and Acculturated are not necessarily endorsed by this organization and are simply provided as food for thought from Intellectual Takeout.