If you have been alive and remotely connected to social media in the past few years, or if you have any older relatives at all, then you’re probably aware of the seemingly universal and ongoing rant against millennials. Sure, we might be into our electronics and spend more time than we should on social media, but we’re far from “the dumbest generation.” If you’re as tired as we are of hearing the same ancient criticisms about our innovative and adaptive generation, let us rejoice in our mutual frustrations. Below is a list of the worst (and often most baseless) stereotypes about millennials. You can also check out our entire project devoted to telling the story of our generation on The Millennial Manifesto.
1) That we only take selfies and don’t do anything good for society.
Actually, we’re the most civic-minded generation since the 1930s and we are a generation of “activist doers.” Besides, I would argue selfies are pretty harmless compared to some of the things other generations are known for (you know, war, pollution, political pork). Also, we take amazing selfies.
2) That we’re shallow narcissists.
We may be entitled to believe that we’re special, but we’re not a generation of self-involved placeholders (fuck you, Time Magazine). If we’re narcissists, we come by it honestly—because, after all, narcissism is tied to our national identity, a mythical land wherein individuals succeed by virtue of their own greatness.
But like any living human that is alive, we have insecurities and they are a constant battle. The “narcissism” perceived by older generations is a lot of “fake it til you make it,” a survival instinct we’ve had to develop in the shadow of a job economy that doesn’t want us, no matter how much work we put into school. Also, when we succeed, we’re allowed to celebrate ourselves.
3) That we’re lazy.
What? School at all levels has become increasingly challenging since your baby boomer asses graduated. Gone are the days of home economics and geometry; today’s high schoolers face AP Physics, AP Biology, AP anything that will make us more attractive to colleges. These ridiculously hard classes pressure students to the point of “shell shock,” but they’re pushed on us by parents, teachers, and college admissions boards. We have to work way harder simply to be recognized. And a college degree isn’t enough—millennial job candidates need significant internship or employment experience to even be considered for real jobs, which aren’t being vacated by older generations.
4) That we are the worst generation yet.
“The world is passing through troublesome times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress.” You know who said that? Peter The Hermit. In 1274. Everyone thinks kids these days are the worst, and, yet, the planet keeps on turning.
5) That we are all sluts and glory in the hook-up culture.
First off, let’s not slut-shame, as it seems women always get the bad end of this stereotype. Women are allowed to enjoy and want sex, and it’s no big deal as long as we’re smart about it. We advocate for reproductive rights (because SCOTUS seems to forget that we’re people), but the fact that we still have to fight for our bodily autonomy is atrocious. Relationships are wonderful, but we also want everyone to respect our right to engage in whatever consensual and safe relationships we want. So please honor our decisions and don’t butt your nose in where it doesn’t belong. We’re smart, we’re capable, we’re adults, and we think sex is awesome.
6) That we’re materialistic and cynical.
Sure, today’s millennials prioritize having money—maybe because the opportunities to amass wealth, once available to those who “work hard” have become practically mythical. We millennials are borne of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression—which took place before baby boomers were even alive to scapegoat us—so we learned that yes, money is important. We saw our parents laid off from jobs they were perfectly qualified for and struggle to get rehired, so yeah, maybe we’ve lost hope that there is anything waiting for us on the other side of college. Especially because it’s been almost promised that none of us will receive the social security benefits we will or already are contributing to. Our safety nets are nonexistent. You try to be positive in light of that knowledge.
7) That we’re the bulk contributors to texting while driving.
It may just be a big city thing, but it seems like the age range of driving texters actually runs from 20-something all the way to 50-something. Business folks in nice cars, busy moms and dads who don’t have much personal time, and people who just plain can’t seem to sit still in their cars until they check social media. The millennial generation isn’t the only one with tech savvy skills, and an intrigue to the newest smart phones. If anything, it seems as though millennials are taking a bigger break from phone use while driving because we don’t have a lot of money to fix whatever situation texting and driving can get us in.
8) That our lack of settling down, buying houses, or cars is going to be the downfall of the economy.
It’s a bit rich to accuse the generation that’s inheriting crippling student debt and a bad economy that because they’re too poor to buy big ticket items they’re going to ruin economy. Even millennials that have gone on to get married and find careers are still lacking the purchasing power (credit) to be able to qualify for the loans required to make these investments. Perhaps if something was done to stem student loans rates and inflated living costs, we could do our part to boost the economy.
9) That the internet and technology is a detriment to our generation and our society.
We get bashed quite a bit for always being online. We’re told we never “really connect” anymore. On the contrary, global connection and inspiration happens online. There is nothing that has added to the millennial’s ability to create start-up companies, follow their dreams, or become more cultured than the internet. That, and well, Tumblr is pretty damn great.
10) That we don’t know how to date.
Almost at odds with point 5, millennials are critiqued for not knowing how to court one another. In other news, we also don’t ask parents’ permission before going out with someone or have elderly chaperones watch our every move. There are many valid reasons for not wanting to date from focusing on a career to just trying to focus on yourself. We’re members of a generation who do not define themselves by their relationship status. Oh, and by the way, this doesn’t mean we only care about sex.
In summary: Millennials don’t suck. Pigeonholing an entire generation on poorly formed generalizations? That sucks. Let’s all try to be better. LD OUT.
What are the worst millennial stereotypes you’ve seen? Comment below or tweet us @litdarling!
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