A piece beginning with "some of my best friends are..." never bodes well, but as an editor I'm in the privileged position of knowing a good number of millennials. And yes, I consider it a privilege. If it wasn't for their greatness of spirit, I'd be far more worried about the future than I already am.
Millenials are hated, truly hated, and that barrage of contempt is constant. They're hated in the media, and experience both casual and entrenched ageism on a daily basis. They're constantly fed the message that they are over-emotional, self-obsessed, unwilling to work, and overly entitled. They're berated even though they've been handed false expectations about what constitutes happiness. They've been burdened with student loans, they've been priced out of the housing market and the job landscape has changed dramatically for them over the years. Being a millennial is tough.
However, millennials are working incredibly hard to fix everyone else's mess. You don't like their methods? Fine. To be honest, with all that racism, everyday sexism and self-interest based on short-term survival not longterm sustainable empathy pervading everything we do, they're not overly impressed with ours, either.
Millenials are not our circus, and they're not our monkeys. If you can characterise a whole generation, they are warm-hearted and honest creative grafters.
Lazy? No, they're flexible enough to work several jobs - which includes handling their own personal and commercial projects - if that's what it takes to make ends meet.
Entitled? Far from it. However, unlike the more defensive among us, millennials are willing to acknowledge their own privilege when they have it. That's bold, and it's scary, and it's true-hearted, and it's the only way that change can happen. Recognising privilege isn't a personal attack; it's a challenge to oppressive systems. In my books, vulnerable self-reflection wins over brittle defensiveness every time.
Maybe you think millennials are 'snowflakes'? It takes strength to say it's not okay. Their admirable honesty and courageous exploration of mental health and countless interconnecting social issues is a vital antidote to the greed and the brittle facades of the eighties. They place their faith in the power of their voice, not in the size of the padded power-shoulders on their suits.
Millenials may at times find it a struggle to maintain their own energy levels with the increasing stress of modern life, but they are tirelessly passionate and influential when it comes to challenging racism, sexism, a binary approach to gender, poverty and so much more. They are givers, not just takers.
Dare you scoff at their being addicted to social media - as if regular social media usage is something that's negative or even easily remedied? (It isn't so easy to regulate your own smartphone activity, by the way. I've tried, and you probably have too). Firstly, consider how often you've checked Facebook this week. You probably can't even count the times. Secondly, millenials are born into a generation that realistically cannot escape the ocean of social media. As a result they've learned to swim in it, because they're survivors. As a result, they have a nuanced understanding of what social media can offer and how to shield themselves from the burdens it can bestow on daily life.
Millenials are just what we need in the Age of Trump, and they're taking risks to protect the vulnerable, put their money where their mouth is and stand up for what's right. We can't even claim any longer that they don't know what it's like to live in the shadow of the bomb, in the same way we did. Oh, they know.
Millenials are magic. And thankfully it's their ideals, not that of the older folk, which are influencing the generation that's coming next.Suggest a correction