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There’s been a lot of commentary on millennials. I guess you could say we’re a controversial bunch. We’ve been called lazy, selfish, entitled, rude…really, the list of less than complimentary descriptions goes on. We’re the participation trophy generation. We’re the kids who ate only grass fed meat and organic vegetables. We weren’t immunized. We wore hemp. Our mom’s kissed our boo-boos till we were twelve and we got ribbons even when we came in last. We were coddled. We were cuddled. We were encouraged. “You can be anything you want to be,” they told us, and we believed it. And then we grew up.
We worked hard in high school. We played three sports, took APs, and were the president of five clubs. We went to college. We worked (and played) hard there too. We studied abroad, we worked for free, we built our resumes. And then we graduated. We graduated, and this world that was promised to us, this world that was supposed to literally be at our fingertips, this promise of success and opportunity, this promised future, it didn’t exist. We got our diplomas, we took the obligatory cap and gown pictures, and then we moved back home with our parents. This future, this fruitful, opportunistic life that had been guaranteed to us since birth…it was gone. There were no jobs, there were no opportunities, and there were no paths.
We were left with student loans and bruised egos. We were met with part time employment and no benefits. We’re now greeted by our mom and dad in the morning and drift off to sleep while staring at the “Hope and Change” poster on our high school bedroom wall at night. We’re faced with an unemployment rate of 7.6% and a debt of nearly 17 trillion. We’re not lazy, we’re not selfish, we’re not entitled and we’re not rude. We’re angry and discouraged and defeated. Simply put, we were lied to.
Last week, The Washington Post ran an article titled the Five Myths About Millenials. The column, written by Mark Glassman, was an attempt at saying that millenials really have got it together, that we’re not worse off than our parents, that the economy really isn’t so bad, that we’ll make it, that we’re not disadvantaged, that we’re not royally screwed. But the thing about it, is that we are worse off than our parents, we don’t have it together, the economy really is that bad, and damn it, we are royally screwed. We’re in a recession on the verge of a full fledged economic collapse. We’re buying into systems that will soon be extinct. We’re spending more than we have. We’re training kids for jobs that don’t exist. We’re not dramatic and we’re not ridiculous; we are simply dealing with the repercussions of generations before us. We’re angry and we’re defeated, we have a wall of trophies at our parent’s house – simply put, we’re not used to losing.
5 Truths About Millennials:
1. Millennials depend on their parents and can’t find jobs.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently reported that 44% of recent college grads are underemployed. Thus, only slightly more than half of our contemporaries actually hold jobs that require a degree; the rest of us are baristas at Starbucks and folding sweaters at J.Crew. So yes, I would say that looking at those numbers, it is in fact…a fact…that we can’t find jobs. This cannot be attributed to laziness or lack of ambition; there simply are not any jobs worthy of someone with a college education.
2. They’re the most self-involved generation.
As children, we were promised the world. We grew up in a world of budding technology. At home computers, cell phones, and Google all came to be during our formative years. We were raised in a society that told us that we could be anything, and technology and innovation acted as our cheerleaders. We’re motivated and we’re hungry. We want what is ours; we want what was promised to us. We’re self-involved because we were taught to be. It’s a dog eat dog world out there, Mark. We’re just looking out for number one.
3. They aren’t interested in marriage.
It’s not that we’re not interested in marriage; we’re just not interested in marriage yet. And who could blame us? 8% of us are completely unemployed. Of the 92% of people who do have jobs, only 56% of those jobs actually require the college diploma we worked so hard to get. Even if we did feel like getting married and moving our new spouse in with dear old Mom and Dad because we can’t afford to live on our own with our $8 an hour pay and one out of every two marriages currently ends in divorce. What the hell? This is not the happily ever after I read about when I was a kid.
4. Republicans don’t stand a chance with them.
I’m going to preface this with saying that I’m a Republican. However, if the past two presidential elections offer any proof, young people as a whole are not voting for the conservative candidate. In the 2012 election, 67% of people aged 18-29 voted for Obama. Granted, only about half of all eligible people in that age group vote, but that comes out to a cool 23 million, 15 million of whom voted for Barack Obama. The number of young people who voted for Mitt Romney? A little under 7 million. The fact of the matter is, until major changes within the party are made, the GOP won’t be winning any elections any time soon.
5. They have an infinitesimal attention span.
Look, I’m by no means a doctor, but if the obsession we have with refreshing our Facebook pages and Twitter feeds is any indication, I’d say that yes, we have a short attention span. Our eyes are glued to computer screens and our hands are in constant connection with some sort of electronic device. We’re busy bodies. After all, aren’t we the generation that was fed Ritalin from a silver spoon?