Monday, August 15, 2016
Week of 08/15/2016
A Message to Millennials
I have a message to the Millennial generation, formerly known as “Generation Y”. You who were born in the 1980’s and 90’s and grew up in the dark ages of our post-9/11 creeping fascism and are now in the crosshairs of pollsters and advertisers.
It sucks being you, doesn’t it?
I mean, every time you turn around, you hear people trashing your whole generation about how you’re “slackers” and “clueless” and “lazy” and how you expect everyone to pick up the check for you. You support socialists like Senator Bernie Sanders instead of the “practical” and party-dictated nominee in the form of Hillary Clinton. Or, worse, you may even support the dangerously narcissistic Donald Trump just because he’s an agent of chaos. Well, okay, you’re more of a Bernie Bro than a Trumpist.
Point is, you’re hearing a lot of crap about your whole generation.
And I sympathize. Really. I do.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve made a comment or two about your generation. Eighteen years ago, when you and your ilk were still watching Nickelodeon, I wondered whether you were ready for the limelight. I even challenged your parents and their overprotective parenting skills.
But that was then, and this is now, and now you’re the ones getting all the heat. Now you’re the ones being challenged to produce and then held to unrealistic standards.
And what I have to say today is... get used to it.
Yes, you’re going to be called slackers and useless. You’re going to be called spoiled and pampered and clueless. You’re going to be mocked and ridiculed. And some of it you’re not going to deserve, and some of it you will. But it will still be all yours.
You know how I know this? Because my generation got hit with it too. And it was from the same sources... from your parents and grandparents and from my parents and grandparents.
Way back when my generation - Generation X - became adults, we started getting nothing but grief about how we were nothing like the Baby Boomer generation, or even the so-called “Greatest Generation” that fought in World War II. Oh, those were the frigging gods in society! They could do no wrong! They made all the sacrifices and earned all of the glory, and, oh, how great and wonderful they were and why the hell couldn’t we be more like them?
And the Boomers? Well, depending on who was telling the story, your parents and their friends either were trying to change the world, or else they were trying to escape from it and were busy whining about it.
They also ended up being the biggest hypocrites in the world.
The Boomers told themselves they would never trust anyone over thirty, and then when the world has the audacity to last long enough for them to turn thirty, they became the complete opposite of their younger selves. They went from being free-love hippies to capitalist yuppies; they traded in their VW Bug for a mini-van; they went from pot and LSD to “Just Say No”; and they popped your generation out and became “born again” bible-thumpers living in the ‘burbs.
And my generation had to live with the after-effects of that hypocrisy! We got held to the schizophrenic standards of your parents and grandparents. We were told that we had to be the “responsible ones” in one breath and then we’re told that we weren’t “passionate enough” and we didn’t fight for causes like the Boomers did. We didn’t protest, and then we were dismissed when we did.
Your parents got free love and porn. We had to deal with AIDS and the anti-porn/anti-gay/anti-AIDS backlash from your hypocritical parents all in the name of “protecting” you. I was a “latchkey child” long before the term was even adopted for my generation, while your parents chanted “It takes a village” and mastered the art of “Helicopter Parenting”.
And yet here we are now, with your generation getting all of the same crap that my generation got at your age. How you are failures and slackers and clueless and lazy... how you can’t cope with the real world that you’re now in and you’re self-absorbed with all sorts of mindless minutia being shoved in your faces.
Believe me when I say I understand. Your parents never had the Internet 24-7. Computers were some strange devices that only the nerds at work could understand, never mind have one at home. My generation helped to make these things a part of our daily lives. You’re welcome for that. And minutia? We were the generation that grew up on MTV, back when they really were about music videos. Before Kim Kardashian, there was Madonna. Before Justin Bieber, there was Prince and Michael Jackson. Before Miley Cyrus, there was Anna Nicole Smith.
So let’s get brutally honest here... you’re going to hear a lot of crap about how useless you are as a generation, just like my generation got it from your parents and grandparents. Own it. Own all of it. And if you don’t like hearing it, then it is up to you to do the one thing that the preceding generations really want you to do: prove them wrong.
Every generation expects the one that follows them to shoulder their burdens and to clean up their messes. The Baby Boomers were spoiled. The Gen-Xers were disillusioned. Millennials? You still haven’t decided what you want to do with the limelight. Just don’t let us “old folks” decide it for you.