As of the last few years, the term “millennial” has been used a lot, and usually with a negative connotation. As a 23 year old millennial or Generation Y, I constantly hear complaints about my generation.
Though I am part of the Millennial age group, I feel a good amount of disconnect from majority of the stereotypes based off the “studies” being done. I find it strange that a fairly wide age and cultural demographic (18-34 year olds) is generalized into one category with a lot of stereotypes that don’t always ring true. People come from different cultural backgrounds, upbringings, wealth, and consist of varying ages, and one may not relate well with others. Nonetheless, I have heard many generalizations of how messed up we millennials are.
So, I decided to be narcissistic for a day and made a small list of my favorite millennial stereotypes below.
1. We’re too narcissistic.
2. We’re jobless and living with our parents.
First, most of my millennial friends live on their own or with a roommate, just to clear the air of this large generalization. Second, those that live with their parents may do so for several reasons, whether it being due to cultural or unemployment reasons.
Living in a diverse city like LA, I know one big reason is cultural. I see many people, usually of Latino or Asian cultural backgrounds, still living with their parents. And the idea of moving out and becoming independent is actually a fairly new and young tradition. It wasn’t until the the hippie countercultural movement that it became the norm to move out at such a young age. Before this, America’s family was different. Generally, they were more financially responsible, and it was expected that when kids get a job out of high school or college, they live with their parents, pay for their bills, and until they are more financially stable, they would purchase a house and move out. As for the hippies, majority of them had to ask their parents for money while on the road (oh, the irony).
Lastly, some of us may live with our parents due to unemployment. Millennials are the most educated generation, yet we have one of the highest unemployment rate. For those of us that did not get a college diploma, they were the hardest hit by unemployment during the recession. What does this mean? College education is still highly valued and believe it or not, mostly required within the workforce to land an entry level position, but a diploma no longer means we are guaranteed a job compared to our predecessors. Also, with current rising costs of education, financial aid cutbacks, and reliance on loans, this leaves a majority of us in debt and many unemployed.
3. We don’t want a house and it’s not helping the economy.
4. We don’t want to settle down and only want to hook-up.
Yes, America’s sex culture has changed since the 60’s. We thank the older generation for opening the doors to the “free love” movement, and it hasn’t really settled down since. However, this doesn’t mean we don’t look for love, relationships, and the idea of settling down. We are human after all. So everyone can calm down about how slutty we are.
5. We complain too much.
You’re right. We do. We complain too much about being unemployed, underpaid, being graduated into one of the worst job markets in recent history, or being crushed by student debts due to inflated school tuition. We complain about wage gaps, classism, sexism, marriage inequality, the fact that corporations have so much power today, and about other social, economic, and environmental issues. In fact, it’s all our fault that we wanted an education for better job opportunities in the first place. We shouldn’t have gone to college, we shouldn’t have put ourselves in debt, and we should go out and find a job. We should take responsibility and stop whining about it.
6. We’re entitled, selfish, and spoiled.
Up to a certain degree, yes I agree. I have met a lot of “entitled” kids. I know people that don’t claim responsibility for their own mistakes. I know people that used to get $100 allowance in grade school (this is THE FORMULA to make your kids into entitled, selfish, and spoiled brats.) However, I feel like this has been said about people from all generations. To add on, I have heard contradictions about our “selfishness.”. From “we spend too much” to “we don’t spend enough.” Either way, it seems we’re getting blamed for a poor and slowly recovering economy.
7. We are the ADD/ADHD generation and the job hopping generation.
A lot of employers, especially the boomers in the work force, can’t seem to understand why we hop jobs around and can’t focus on our career. The average work-span of a Gen Y employee in a company is less than 3 years. This seems to offend several employers as we’re not “loyal,” but what they don’t realize is that we value growth, learning, our passion for what we do, and some decent pay. If employers expect us to stay in their company for the sake of loyalty, could we at least get some respect and loyalty in return as well? Many employers low-ball our pay and view us as “disposable”. Additionally, some of us don’t trust corporations as we’ve seen our parents lose their jobs, homes, cars, etc. But hey, I guess it’s easy to pay us nearly minimum wage when there’s a line of other job-seeking millennials waiting out the door.
8. It’s expected that things are handed down to us.
I’d like to think we work hard. Some of us may be entitled (see #6), however, there’s always several of those spoiled brats in every age group. Again, we were graduated into one of the worst job markets, employers don’t value employees anymore, and more than money, we value our passion for work and social responsibility than anything. It doesn’t mean we expect things to be given to us, it just means we have a different view on life.
9. We don’t care about what’s going on.
Studies show we are the most caring and empathetic of all generations. We use technology as a tool to get our news and to learn about issues going on in the world. We do more charity and volunteer work compared to other generations. We also happen to watch more documentaries, invest our money in more socially-responsible companies, etc.
I agree, we are the “silent generation.” We don’t go out to the streets with signs, yelling and demanding for our rights. But this doesn’t mean we don’t care. We’d rather do it quietly, signing petitions online or raising awareness via social media. Part of this is due to the fact that a majority of us watched our parents and their friends lose their jobs and their homes. Besides, we’d rather show up to work to keep our jobs.