I often hear of the debate between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials, and it’s not actually much of a debate.
It’s target practice.
Baby Boomers are aiming their unregistered shotguns straight at the troubled, younger generations, and we’re armed with nothing but a smartphone and unlimited data. Half the time we don’t even realize the conflict is there.
In this battle-of-the-ages, I have personally done little to raise my finger in defense of the other side.
Why? Because I have minor social anxiety and don’t enjoy conflict.
Why am I like this?
Because, I’m a Millennial.
According to a vast number of Gen Xer’s, we, the Millennials, have damned the future of humankind. We are selfish. We are unsocial. We can’t hold a gosh-darn job because we are so pampered and entitled that we believe a career should be more than an avenue for paying the bills. We believe we should spend the majority of our lives doing something we love to do, be it music, mystics, or math. We don’t like to be bored. And who is it that raised us to feel this way? Who told us we could be President if we wanted to? Our hard-working, Baby Boomer parents. They gave us privilege, and willingly we took it.
I freely admit that my parents struggled far more than I ever had to, and I was the heir to their eventual success. I will never fully grasp what it was like to be newly married at twenty, and have the gasman knocking on the door with bill-in-hand, and having to turn off all the lights in the house and hide because I don’t have the money to pay him until the paycheck clears.
Millennials imagine themselves in a middle-class lifestyle from Day One. That means that there is no ‘starting from the ground up’. We have the high expectations of where our parents’ accomplishments ended, and tape that down as our starting point. Day One: flat screen TV, iPhone, Netflix. Day Two: scented candles, brand-new dishwasher, mom-how-do-you-cook-a-chicken-because-seriously-I-need-to-eat-something-that-isn’t-kraft-dinner. Day Three: solve world hunger.
Millennials are opinionated, often to hubris. We take pictures of literally all of our meals. We made ‘selfies’ a thing. And Starbucks? Yeah, I can’t afford it, but it’s for sure going on my Instagram #theyspelledmynamewrongagain. We almost all use emoji’s, and GIF’s are the best form of communication when you ‘literally can’t even’. We all either have a cat, or two dogs, or at the very least, a pet rock. We are not perfect by any means, but we can damn-well Snapchat our way through life blissfully. Obviously, this is an over-generalization. Not everyone can be white, born in the 90’s, and live in North America. Not every Millennial is as spoiled as I.
Still, we are the forefront to the future.
Despite our various shortfalls, I love Millennials. That’s right: love them. We accept people for who they are. Being different is preferred. We find an edge and make a new edge out of it. We sharpen each other. We laugh and we fight and we’re human. That’s not to say the older generations are incapable of acceptance, or drama, or boldness. They are incredible, and stubborn, and reliable, and I don’t believe in dichotomies anyways. People always surprise me.
Millennials are only the beginning to generations of genius ahead. It is my belief that human beings will never cease to amaze or exceed. I wish more Baby Boomer’s could see us that way.
We may not be the generation of Great Wars or Great Depressions.
We are not the generation of Hippies, but hipsters.
We are not the generation of get-married-at-21-because-oops-you’re-religious-and-you-really-really-want-to-avoid-premarital-sex. (Okay, some of us may still be like that).
We are not the generation of 35 years and then retirement.
We are the generation of dreamers, and that doesn’t mean we can’t be realists, too.
I cannot count the times that I have been told by my elders that I have somehow fallen short of the expectations of the world. Somehow, being different is not acceptable. Why can’t we all just grow up?
Well, let me tell you: Adulting is hard. And, to be honest, we never learned how to properly do it. We were taught to be passionate. We were taught that when we struggle financially, our parents will bail us out. We were taught not to worry. We were taught that someone else was paying for it. We were taught to tap it, snap it, and rap it. We were taught to be introverts. We were taught by YouTube and Facebook. We might’ve had some dirt under our fingernails, but it wasn’t required. Baby Boomers complain about us Millennials, and to a point, I can’t blame them. At face-value, we may appear to be a pale reflection of our predecessors. But dig a little deeper. Dirty your own fingernails. We are happy, we are good for society, and we are the next spoke in the wheel of human evolution.
In this day-and-age we have a better understanding of mental illnesses. We understand better that it’s not unnatural for a child to feel different from his peers. We recognize the need for kindness, even when the Internet allows for anonymous discord. We know to avoid wiring money to that prince in Saudi Arabia who happened to find our email address out of the billions out there in the world. We have taken what you, the Baby Boomers, gave to us freely: privilege and education. We have taken it, and we have made it into something weird, but also great.
My father spent most of his life working in a job he strongly disliked. He was called out in the middle of the night, and was back to work at five a.m. the next morning. He worked because he had to support his family, and eventually he found something he enjoyed. It only took thirty-some years. He never had the opportunity to go to university, or become a fighter pilot (his dream job). He did what was necessary to survive.
I don’t worry about survival. I have never had the need.
My sister has an art degree. She has a professional career in photography. Her job is literally her hobby, and she can do that because my dad made sure it was possible.
So, thank you, Baby Boomers. You are responsible for us Millennials, and we’re not actually that bad. The world wide web really can be useful, if you let us show you how. So, sit back, relax, go play Candy Crush on your iPad, and remember:
Millennials may seem odd to you, and we really,