Millennials: The Worst, Most Entitled, Most Spoiled Generation in the History of Humankind?
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To be a millennial is to hear constantly about how awful your generation is.
And to agree, kind of politely.
I was out at party a while ago, listening to some people in their 40s talk about hiring millennials, and how they are all entitled. This is the word that comes up over and over. After a certain number of minutes into the conversation (10? 15? I’m a pushover) I found myself agreeing that, yes, 25-year-olds are just doing drugs in their parents’ basement because they hate the mere idea of working. Meth, probably. At least Adderall. Probably something stolen out of their parents’ medicine cabinets because those unemployed losers can’t get money to buy their own drugs to fuel their Lena Dunham-esque sex romps. “I’m like you,” I wanted to say, “by which I mean I am an employed non-meth addict.”
And that’s just what people at a party think. Journalists think we’re much worse. Wall Streeters bemoan that only 32 percent of millennials consider themselves entrepreneurial (compared to 41 percent of Gen-Xers, and 45 percent of baby boomers). Time thinks we’re narcissists. The Christian Science Monitor is nervous that “ The Millennial Generation Could Kill the NFL” – because, sissies that we are, we really don’t like seeing people suffer long-term brain damage. Meanwhile, the New York Times says — more or less every week — that we probably don’t have much of a shot in the real world.
So, at a party with respectable older people in tweed jackets I will immediately agree that we are terrible. I will do that as though I can somehow trick them into thinking I am 45 by agreeing, and then maybe they will hire me.
Then, later, at home, I remember that I am 26 and pretty much everyone I know in my age bracket is … really very nice.
OK, admittedly, people do live at home. But that’s only because we really like our parents. And why shouldn’t we?
Millennials were born in a time of “baby on board” stickers, Amber alerts, and helicopter parenting. “Baby Boom” and “Three Men and a Baby” had replaced “The Exorcist” and “Rosemary’s Baby.” At school and sport events, everyone got a prize, and everyone was told they were a very special winner.
To this day I believe my mother has a list of ways to compliment your child on the bulletin board. I still tease her about the time she attempted to use “You’re really flying now!”
Which is to say – I am 26 and I laugh with my mother. I also chat with her nearly every day – just like 80 percent of millennials. As for rampant drug abuse – honestly, it’s is very hard to go on a week-long bender if your mother expects you to check in every day.
And despite the reports on the decadence of the young, we’re really pretty tame. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) conducts a youth risk surveillance survey that tracks various risk-taking behaviors among youths. Those include unintentional injuries and violence; tobacco use; alcohol and other drug use; sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection; unhealthy dietary behaviors; and physical inactivity. Neil Howe, the author of “Millennials Rising,” notes that millennials are shown to be more risk averse than their predecessors in almost every category. The only risk factor that has increased with this generation is “obesity.”
So, it’s actually much more likely that the guy in the tweed jacket at the party was a decadent layabout in his youth than it is likely to be true of a millennial.