Why are you older generations so quick to point out the faults of us millennials? Boomers, Generation Xers, (aka, Mom and Dad), Im talking to you. Between binge-watching Netflix and posting selfies to Instagram, were productive people. We just dont fit your mold, and for some reason that upsets you.
Millennials are lazy, godless, politically inactive narcissists who live with Mommy and Daddy well into their 20s, the argument goes.
Lazy? Dont confuse unemployed with lazy. Were looking for a job, I promise. It was different in the 70s and 80s. You could get a union job with benefits out of high school. Were graduating from college in the midst of a recession Im pretty sure we didnt create. Now, were buried in student loan debt and trying to afford an apartment. We can only dream of home ownership.
Thats why were still living with you, Mommy and Daddy. Were struggling to afford an apartment and student loan payments while working part-time for near-minimum wage. Plus, we need to stay ready to relocate in the off chance a career-level employer sees one of the hundreds of résumés weve sent out and wants to hire us. Fingers crossed!
Godless? Millennials watched organized religion being used to deny basic rights to an entire population of Americans because of sexual orientation. Sorry if were a little turned off. But Pope Francis can probably wrangle a few millennials back into the church. He gets us.
Narcissists? Pause, while I snap a selfie of me rolling my eyes. Dont forget youre our parents. Its possible you could have taught us this behavior. But being super awesome is the least of our problems.
Politically inactive? Dont mistake politically inactive with politically turned off. Theres a reason millennials have more libertarians than any other generation. Government looks like a tangled mess to us. If we can make social change without getting Congress involved, that should be lauded, not dismissed. Millennials are doing wonderful things with Facebook and Twitter besides stroking our egos. We got Subway to change its bread recipe. It may not be much, but imagine if we put that energy to good use.
Of course, you consider our social media obsession one of our faults. OMG, excuse me while I LOL. Is that because we deny your friend requests? Forgive us our youthful ways. Half of us are in college or younger. Admit it, you werent a model of social responsibility in your 20s. You had friends and plenty of time to waste. Remember?
Dont you think well look at all our self-snapped photos in our 50s and cringe with shame? Let us make our mistakes. Im sure you had yours. Luckily, they arent as well documented as ours.
And, of course, not all millennials are wunderkinds. Some of us are exactly the stereotype. The rest of us millennials cringe when we see this and are just as quick to pass judgment, but we know better. You cant view one bad actor and assume the entire generation behaves that way, even if Time magazine says so. There are millennials out there right now hustling to make a decent life for themselves in a country with a shrinking middle class. And all the while we have to hear about how entitled and lazy we are.
But as long as were all living under the same roof, we have to get along. Remember, you taught us that. You just have to be patient. Well-paying entry-level jobs are getting harder to find in America, and its looking less likely well own a home anytime soon. We may be in this together for the long haul.
But dont worry. Millennials have a lot to offer. We taught you how to work the DVR and send emoticons in your text messages. Setting up the wireless network is next! Its a rapidly changing world, and we can help you figure it out. Lets work together and stop the infighting.
James Morrison produces Insight on Capital Public Radio.