Our generation gets a lot of shit from older people. This is fine, as being told that your age group is worthless by the people ahead of you is sort of a rite of passage. Every generation for thousands of years has been told by their elders that they’re lazy, entitled, and morally broken. I’m not going to complain too much about this. What I will say, however, is that I think our generation has the makings of the best generation in modern history. Read your hearts out, geezers.
It seems like each consecutive generation in the last few hundred years gets better at being decent to people. We went from slavery to Jim Crow to blatant racism to the Civil Rights Movement to “Blazing Saddles” to Barack Obama in not all that much time. And it’s not just racism. The general outlook of our age group is that you can be any race, gender, or sexuality, and it’s all fine as long as you’re not a douche. I obviously know that we still have to deal with some discrimination issues, but Millennials are significantly more likely to not concern themselves with things that were viewed as “the other” by previous generations. This is great, because you know what’s cooler than hating groups of people for ugly, stereotypical reasons? Being friends with them. Weird, I know.
2. Relationship With Technology
Every decade brings along new technology for young people to embrace and old people to reject. However, in the last 20 years or so, the advancement of technology has increased markedly. In my own memory, we’ve gone from cell phones being exciting things that only rich people had, to my dad impressing us with a car phone, to getting a Nokia brick at 15, to the iPhone coming out while I was in college. Now, just about everyone–even technology dummies–has a massive touch screen device that can surf the web, send emails, reserve a limo, track movements, and, oh yeah, call people. It’s like that big screen thing Tom Cruise used in “Minority Report,” only we don’t look nearly as cool when we use ours.
3. Love Of Learning
Don’t get me wrong. We all hated school just as much as our forefathers, but it seems like we enjoy knowing things. I find it strange that people older than us complain about how young people don’t read anymore. We read 10 times more than any generation before us–it’s just all online. Sure, we don’t read as much fiction, but it’s not like my aunt, who reads a new Agatha Christie novel every couple weeks, is expanding her mind. How many times have you gone to a Wikipedia article to look up something specific, only to emerge three hours later wondering what the hell happened? The Wikipedia spiral is the result of our generation’s curiosity. We actually like finding out new things. Everything is like this. It used to be that, if you liked sports, you just needed to know your team’s roster and have a decent understanding of everyone else in the league. Now we have advanced metrics, “off the court issues,” and 24/7 networks that discuss everything. And guess what? We can handle it, because we’re fucking champs. Am I wasting too much brain space reading Kirk Goldsberry’s Sloan Conference paper on EPV (expected possession value) and how it relates to NBA offensive schemes? Absolutely. But it’s not like I’m sitting around watching reality TV like everyone in his or her 50s thinks I am.
“The crap young people listen to that they call ‘music’ is awful. It sounds like noise,” said every middle-aged guy with a slight buzz in the last hundred years. But guess what? Our music doesn’t suck. In fact, it’s awesome. Sure, most of the stuff that gets radio play is garbage, but my generation doesn’t even listen to the radio, so I’m not sure that’s on us. Because of music blogs, Spotify, and yes, our history of illegal downloading, we’re more music savvy than anyone ever. Let’s say you’re a 20-something reading Spin magazine in 1995 and the writer mentions that this new band sounds like they were influenced by a combination of The Replacements and Elvis Costello. Well, you’ve never really listened to either of those artists, so how do you track those two down to see if you agree with the writer? You have to go to the record store and pick up some of their music. And what if you buy the wrong album? What if you were told to check out Bob Dylan and you pick up “Down In The Groove” instead of “Blonde on Blonde”? You’re screwed. Now, if I read a reference to a band or want to track down an artist’s influences, I just hop online. Easy.
And that doesn’t even take into account the music being put out right now. Every generation since the ’60s has been dominated by rock and roll–until now. Rock music is no longer the biggest genre, which I think is the best thing that could’ve happened to music. Rock is so much better when it’s created out of the mainstream, for the music, not the money. I know it sounds corny, but it’s true. We have rock, rap, pop, Texas country, neo-R&B, and Skrillex. Sure, some of it sounds like Transformers fornicating in the bathroom of a Denny’s just outside El Paso, but sometimes I’m in the mood for that sort of music. And that’s the point.
5. Attitudes On Dating
You can date literally whoever you want, however you want, for as long as you want. The great thing about the tolerance I mentioned earlier is that you can walk around in public holding hands with whoever happens to strike your fancy, and you don’t have to worry about people murmuring about it. Some people our age want to get married and settle down, and it’s relatively easy for them to find each other now. Most people just want to date, but not commit to anything long term. Others just want to hook up–or as my buddy Watkins puts it, “raw dog some fuckin’ randos.” It’s all on the table, and it’s pretty easy to find someone who shares your outlook on dating, provided you have at least average looks and aren’t a crazy person. If you don’t meet that criteria, you’re just as screwed as you would’ve been in any other generation. That’s fine, though. You’ll learn how to accept it.