Generation Next: Millenials and generations to come
Why I think my generation is the greatest generation ever...and why I think the next generation will be even better:
In a world that is seeing arguably the most rapid social change and technological advancements, a lot of unique criticisms have been levied against the generation who is growing up and adapting to it the most. Millennials are often seen as lazy, non-engaged, impatient, and spoiled by entitlement. While most of these criticisms are mainly backed up by anecdotal evidence by a baby boomer who doesn’t recognize the world they grew up in or a Gen Xer who realized they have gotten old out of nowhere. I have even seen these criticisms expressed by other millennials, who have bought into thinking that they are the worse generation and that every generation before us is somehow better and more equipped from the world. I will argue that this is the best generation of all time and I have no doubt that the generation after us will be even better. Let’s go through a few of these criticisms for a second.
Down to Basics
The most common criticism I hear about millennial is that we are a lazy and entitled generation (I know I mashed these two together but stay with me). I often hear this because of things that were exposed to at a young age. They’ll say something along the lines of all millennial want to do is be on their phones and watch Netflix, or that we want things and we don’t want to work hard for it. While I have seen no evidence of the latter, I can say that this generation is, in fact, infatuated with their phones and streaming movies. Then again, so are previous generations. There aren’t too many people on this earth without a mobile device or a social media account, excluding developing nations. Technology, like everything else in our environment, is something we must adapt to. As with so many other products and amenities, an etiquette will begin to emerge just as there was with driving, dining, and even social interactions as a whole.
When you compound this laziness with entitlements it can make it seem like leeches who exclusively live off of their parents' trust fund. I write this ironically out of my mother's basement, but nevertheless, I still have a valid point to make. The point being, that this “entitlement” comes almost entirely from a harder economic strain than previous generations. Taking away the obvious cost savings of living with someone charging you substantially less to live with them than a stranger or landlord, the other problems to consider that other generations didn’t have to deal with (higher cost of living vs. stagnant wages, exponential student debt growth, etc.) make it much more financially difficult to be a part of this generation. Meanwhile, the productivity is almost the highest it’s ever been. In fact, if you linked the minimum wage with average productivity, the average employee would get paid over $21/hr. Now, of course, you cannot attribute that all to millennials but you cannot pretend as though evolving schools of thought have not contributed to more efficient ways of doing things.
Which brings up the impatient criticism that seems to be levied about Millennials as well. I do believe this is something that is levied against young people of all generations. Consider just a few things first. If we look at time as another resource like money or fuel, our goal is to get the most out of it while using as little of it as possible. If this is the goal of maximizing resources, why then are we criticized for efficiency? This is not to say certain things do to require more time than others and those things shouldn’t take time like building relationships and trust. So there are valid arguments for people who criticize impatience. I think these arguments are heavy handed at best and more often used to describe doing things efficiently, rather than doing things hastily for the sake of convenience. For example, sending an email instead of writing a letter or driving a car instead of a horse and carriage. These things are seen as the simple efficient alternatives to the obsolete technologies we still have access to. The same can be said for online shopping instead of in-person or staying in and streaming a movie instead of going to the theatre to see it.