Coming to appreciate Millenials

Opinion: Columns

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By John Hubbuch

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. I agree with him. Over the years there have been things I liked, but now I don't — bubblegum music, Bob Knight, The Walking Dead and baseball. There are things I didn't like, but now I do — opera, dancing at weddings, Bon Jovi and Dickens. 

In the latter category, I have recently added Millennials.

There is no precise definition of a Millennial, but demographers often use the early 1980s as the starting date and circa 2000 as an ending date. They are also known as Generation Y. My youngest son, Phil, was born in 1983 but denies that he is a Millennial. I on the other hand, having been born in 1949, admit that I am a Baby Boomer, but a self- loathing one. Millennials are sometimes known as "echo Boomers." 'Tis a pity.

As noted, I used to dislike Millennials — except for Phil and his friends, who were nice to me. I envied their technology acumen but was put off by their worship of social media. The idea that you could have hundreds of friends seemed preposterous. Talking pictures of cheese fries seemed weird. Carefully curating dinners, vacations and good times with friends on Facebook came across as utterly inauthentic, and a likely indicator of an unsatisfying, even depressing life. Some of the Millennials whined about their jobs, if they had one, because the jobs were boring and unfulfilling, which, of course, is what a job is.

I do like Millennial craft beer and whiskey. Even their Brussels sprouts. Their music, Smith Brothers beards and stupid hats? Not so much.

Amazingly, I was blind, but now I see. According to a recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll of Americans, age 15-34, 60 percent of those polled described our current president as "mentally unfit," 62 percent "as generally dishonest," and 63 percent say he "is a racist." Although I appreciate that some of the AARPers drinking coffee at the Naples, Florida McDonald's might disagree, I think  these Millennials have figured this Trump guy out.

I also liked the way they were marching and leading on the gun restriction issue. It made sense since the Millennials were the ones getting blasted at their desks. And all their parents and grandparents could come up with as solutions were armed teachers and CPR. They can address the threat to personal privacy resulting from social media because they understand it. They appreciate the interconnectedness of our lives. The idea that 70-year-olds can lead us into our uncertain future is truly magical thinking.

I feel bad for the Millennials. They have been let down by their elders. Pension legacy costs and Medicare expense are crushing their economic prospects. Climate change threatens their future and their grandchildren's very existence. Technology threatens their privacy and personhood. In the good old Dark Ages, you could count on the village wise ones and mum and dad to sort things out for the kids. After all, they were bigger, stronger, smarter and wiser.

Not today. If recent history teaches these young men and women anything, it has to be that their future is now in their hands. Han Solo ain't zooming in on the Millennium Falcon to save the day for these young men and women.

They may be young and unprepared, but they will need to step up to the challenges of the age now. They need to take over right away. 

For their own sake. 

For everyone's sake.

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