I'm just gonna come right out and say it: I think the derision for "Millennials" has gone considerably past reasonable.
This is part of the circle of life, of course – every new generation is mocked by the old, but I think we've gone far enough. Nothing Millennials are accused of doing — growing giant beards, driving up the price of avocados, refusing to demonstrate loyalty to brands or employers — is half as annoying as listening to Baby Boomers bitch bitterly about it.
Think about this for a moment: The most coddled, self-absorbed generation America has ever produced, the generation that swarmed the Earth like locusts and left a pillaged mess for someone else to clean up, has the temerity to complain about … well, about anything, really. But specifically, it seems to me that they are mostly complaining about their children and grandchildren's disinterest in replicating their lives precisely but for much less benefit.
Look: What are the complaints you hear most? "Millennials don't have traditional morals (/career paths/taste in food/home-buying patterns/television-viewing habits/ideas of grooming/politics)!" These are all the traditional complaints of the elderly. The "Greatest Generation" (now blessedly dead or incapacitated, possibly from an overdose of patting themselves on the back) said all of these things about you, Boomers! Find me an Elks Lodge or bridge club meeting in 1967 that didn't contain some variant on "Kids today with their sex and their communes and their organic vegetables are stalling on settling down. Cut your hair and get a job, I say!"
The Elks and bridge clubs have given way to Pilates and smoothie bars — those Boomers and their vanity — but the song remains the same: "Our way is better and they should do just what we did!" Save it.
This is not to give Millennials a pass. The complaining from the kids would be deafening if the Boomers weren't talking over them. My god, you'd think this was the first generation to have to pay for things, or have expectations they did not seek or agree to, cited as disappointments when they went unmet. There can be no argument that $8 for a piece of bread with avocado paste on it is insane. And please, please, please shut up about student debt. You did not have to incur it. No one pointed a gun. If there's no decent work to be had in your chosen field, maybe you should have looked into the demand in your chosen field before you borrowed the money you coulda used to buy the house you say you can't afford to spend five years studying the field in which you can't find work. This is not new. I assure you the Boomers were refusing to move aside for the next generation when you were watching Power Rangers in a diaper.
I know this because I'm Gen X. Everything the Millennials are dismayed about and everything the Baby Boomers are disappointed in, I been through. Not a ton of work, check. Chosen field — radio and newspapers, FML — failing, check. Housing too expensive, check. Dislike TGI Fridays, check. Stuck between two much larger, much louder generations … OK, that one's ours.
You two fight it out. Gen X is tired of listening to you complain about each other. You're like a couple going through a horrendous breakup and you can't shut up about it, except that we're your friends who know that the reason you don't get along is that you are so very alike. Really, the Millennials are the Junior Boomers.
They'll both be mad at me for pointing that out, of course, which to me just bolsters the truth of it.
Alan Brouilette writes a column in our sister publication, the Forest Park Review.
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