Recently I’ve become strangely obsessed with the way people talk about our generation. It all started this summer when it seemed like every other day I’d trip over an op-ed pointing out an inherent flaw in my person. Apparently I (and you too, if you are of proper age) have turned into a narcissistic, over-confident, unrealistic digital addict who suffers from a Peter Pan complex and whose social/communication skills have been permanently stunted… 140-characters at a time.*
I always feel strange reading these pieces. I never know whether to be defensive or highly amused by them. After all, such generational ramblings are reminiscent of cliché grandfatherly speeches about how kids today have it easy…before you had to walk to the unheated school house barefoot in the snow…up hill…both ways. This brings me to my very first label: millennial. It’s one that will likely apply to each writer and guest writer on on this blog. Unlike others it doesn’t have a clear definition, only an endless list of associated concepts which include (but are not limited to): debt, moving back in with mom and dad, “sexting,” and wearing jeans to work. At this point I just want to know if these criticisms from my summer reading are genuine or purely cyclical. Am I also doomed to a future of pessimism towards youth? Will I still be writing on this blog past middle age complaining about Generation AA’s lingo, habits, and smarter smart devices? I really, really hope not.
Perhaps I’m just getting defensive. After all, I partially fit into the cliché. I have an active Twitter account which I love and actually wore jeans to work today. I DO, however, live alone and make money (this is arguable, but I’ll explain on a later date). I’ve also refrained from sexting because 1) I don’t trust Verizon enough and 2) the practice itself is more lame than I can convey in this blog post.
So when exactly did millennial become such a dirty word? It’s gotten to the point where I’m almost offended when someone characterizes me as one because of the slew of negative connotations that accompany it. Not all of us are wandering aimlessly through our twenties with only the light of our smart phones to guide us. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not pardoning us completely from our flaws. I just don’t think youth has been completely doomed by our economic and technological circumstances. Yes, we talk about ourselves too much (evidence: this blog) and dream to a laughable degree (have I mentioned that I’m going to save the world?), but we’re not the originators of laziness or bad communication. Innovators – maybe. Originators – definitely not.
Out of my inspiring and interesting peers from college and work, I think I’ve encountered too many exceptions to believe the rule. Youth is not doomed. For now I’ll hold fast to my naïve, optimistic worldview.
But then again that’s what makes me a millennial, right?
*Please note that I am ironically displaying this opinion via blogging – a medium which only seems to enable my millennial ways. Also note that this post is more than 140 characters.