Millennials – an overused word that has seeped into today’s cultural narrative. It’s also a collective noun used to identify anyone who was born between the late 1980s to the early 2000s (depending on what publication you read). Whichever way you look at it Millennials represent the pre-eminent working force and as a result, the generation that is having the most influence on culture – whether that be sociological or economic. Yet, despite the current prominence of this group, there has perhaps never been a more mocked generational group than Millennials.
There are a number of condescending terms used by mainstream media to describe Millennials: Entitled, spoilt – and a really popular one – ‘generation snowflake’. As one could extrapolate from the latter, the common accusation leveled at millennials is that they are a bunch of over-sensitive ‘pansies’. But is this actually fair? To create sweeping generalisations of a group, just because they happen to be born at a point in history, isn’t really fair is it. There are over 6 billion people on this little planet of ours and we are all biologically different. So in that sense, it’s a bit redundant to create assumptions about a large category of people.
Yet, despite the lampooning, there are traits of this generation which are common – if we are looking at more general habits. Technology has altered beyond recognition – as the last twenty years have seen a transference from analog to digital and the consequential growth of the sharing economy as well as the exponential growth of Social media. Why wouldn’t the generation, who would inherit such technology, not be shaped by it to a large degree? I mean what is inherently wrong with having instant access to short-term rented accommodation or a taxi? The answer is of course absolutely nothing.
And to that degree is there a problem with being sensitive towards perceived racism and sexism? Well, that depends on who you’re asking. In my humble opinion, political correctness can go a bit far and there needs to be an understanding that not everything needs to be so rigidly policed. However, I say it’s preferable to be somewhat ‘overly sensitive’ on these issues than to take a blind eye and not acknowledge them at all. So if this is a generation that has learned from the somewhat neglectful attitude towards issues of race, creed and sexual orientation, which might have been more prominent in previous generations, is that such a bad thing?
Since Trump’s election it’s been (you guessed it) Millennial’s who have vociferously protested against the new Commander In Chief. Chants of ‘not my President’ have been a regular occurrence since the turn of the year. By most people’s admission, this President’s term has been chaotic so far. His policies are questionable and his decisions, to exit the Paris Climate Change Agreement and place a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, have attracted criticism from the left and right of America’s political spectrum. Many millennials are seemingly in unison against this perceived aggressive President. And this is not an isolated incident. On the other side of the Atlantic, Jeremy Corbyn received an incredible 70% of the vote in this year’s general election, from those who were between the ages of 18-24. I might not be in favor of Corbyn’s politics, but it is not hard to deduce that a pattern has emerged. It seems that this generation is much more inclined towards the left.
We Millennials are an interesting breed. We find it hard to settle on a TV show and like things to be easy to access. And just as with previous generations we are defined by the times we live in. The world has changed forever because tech companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon have simplified processes to make our lives easier. But it is not fair to be derogatory towards an entire generation. In the end, we are all individuals who see things in our own way – whatever group or category we fall into.
image credit – theoddysey.com