Millennial-shaming provides no constructive generational insight

Sunny Kim

Older generations have historically accused the younger ones of being frivolous, wild and shallow individuals who are responsible for making the world worse. This is certainly true in how the baby boomers perceive millennials today. However, constantly bashing millennials as the most lazy and self-obsessed generation serves as nothing more than a complaint. Instead of repeating an outdated argument, baby boomers should provide constructive criticism or opt out of the conversation.

Millennials are loosely defined as the generation of children born between 1982 and 2002. According to the U.S. census bureau, we are the nation’s most diverse, educated and largest living generation. However, there are certain characteristics that are still wrongly attributed to millennials.

The first claim is that we are lazy and unenthusiastic when it comes to the workplace, citing how we fail to comply with the rules. However, millennials simply think outside of the box, offering creative solutions. According to an infographic by urbanbound, 83 percent of millennials look for jobs where creativity is valued, while 90 percent are motivated to work harder if they know what their work is contributing to. Additionally, the long-term consequences of the 2007 recession make it increasingly difficult to secure financially stable, lifelong jobs. As a response, we might jump around here and there, but it only highlights our flexibility to adapt to various jobs that cultivate a multitude of skills.

Another mislabel is that we are narcissistic. Jeffrey Kluger, a senior writer at Time magazine and author published a book called “The Narcissist Next Door,” talking about how millennials suffer from serious self-absorption with all the selfies, Facebook and Kardashians in mainstream media today. However, consider the 1976 cover story of New York Magazine by Tom Wolfe called “The Me Decade and the Third Great Awakening.” It’s not very different from the 2013 Times article “The Me, Me, Me Generation.” Self-absorption and confidence are qualities seen in the younger generations, so to claim millennials as the most narcissistic generation is an overstatement.

Lastly, some people think our generation is completely useless, such as Alexis Bloomer, a Texas anchor at Fox news who posted a video on Facebook last Friday listing all of the reasons why millennials suck. Before posting this anti-millennial rant that went viral with 42 million views, Bloomer claims she spotted a young man who stepped in front of a limping elderly man without bothering to hold open the door.

As a millennial herself, she said, “We’re just existing. We’re not really contributing anything to society. … Nothing has value in our country because we take advantage of everything.”

Although it’s frustrating when we see rude people, the action of this one young man shouldn’t be a trigger to trash all millennials. Instead of fulfilling her desire to break the negative stereotypes of millennials, her fiery rant was counterproductive.

Rhetoric professor Jeffrey Walker argues that over time, repetition can persuade us to believe these characteristics about ourselves are true.

“Hitler talks about the way to make anything appear to be true is to repeat it over and over again,” Walker said. “So there is one sense that the effect of all these repetitions, and people hear it coming from all different sources in the media … in itself makes people inclined to believe it is true.”

Our generation will shape our country for decades to come. The baby boomers need to realize that their frustration toward millennials is a natural response but useless when it’s the same, outdated argument from the past. 

Kim is a journalism freshman from Austin. Follow her on Twitter @sunny_newsiee.