Hey Generation-X, Shut Up!

Student_Graduation_Faculty_of_Economics_ULBS,_Jun_2013 Justin Adams

If you’ve been on Facebook recently you’ve probably seen this stupid video of a guy talking about the challenges of working with millennials in the workplace. It repeats a bunch of the same old stereotypes about millennials: that they’re whiny and entitled because they got “participation trophies” as kids. They want free stuff. They’re lazy and they live in their parents’ basement. They’re addicted to social media. He covers it all.

You can watch the video if you want, but I don’t recommend it.

It’s been viewed 5.5 million times and shared over a million times. If you want to know what I think about it, and I assume you do if you’re reading this article, I think it’s a load of patronizing crap designed to help Baby-Boomers and Gen-Xers feel better about their own crummy generation. How’s that for a hot-take? Now, let’s take a look at each of these millennial stereotypes one by one and I’ll explain how wrong they are.

First, millennials are entitled because they received “participation trophies” for coming in last place. “Everyone thinks they’re a special little snowflake,” they say. Alright, let’s see who the participation trophies were really for. They weren’t for me or my friends. We played recreational sports because it was fun, not because we wanted a trophy. None of us would have cried if we didn’t get a trophy at the end of the season. The trophies were given to us by adults, the same adults who now condemn us for taking them. They were never for the players. They were always for the players’ parents who each thought that their kid was the best, for all the pathetic middle-aged dads who wanted to relive their childhood fantasy of being a sports star that never came to fruition. Maybe if your parents had told you that you were special you wouldn’t feel the need to do this kind of stuff.

“Millennials want free stuff.” I know right? How dare we protest against college tuition rates that have risen 260% since 1980 when the minimum wage today is actually lower than it was back then after adjusting for inflation. We’d really be grateful if we could pay for college tuition with only  a minimum wage summer job, you know, like you older generations did. Instead, we’ve collectively gone 1 trillion dollars in debt in order to get an education. Then you have the gall to write patronizing articles like, “Why Aren’t Millennials Buying Stuff?” Maybe if you really wanted to jumpstart the economy you would help us lobby to lower tuition rates so we can start buying cars and homes.

“Millennials are lazy and live in their parents’ basement.” Actually, we’re the largest generation in the workforce. The growing tech world is filled with millennials who have created new companies and technology worth billions of dollars. Meanwhile, older generations are duped by a presidential candidate who thinks that propping up a dying manufacturing industry is the most important solution to improving the economy. I mean, I get it. I understand. We millennials would love to have a guaranteed job in the local factory that doesn’t require any special skills or education, yet pays good wages thanks to strong labor unions. Instead, a lot of us have to resort to taking jobs at the local fast food restaurant which, just like your factory jobs, don’t require any special skills or education. But when we ask for maybe a little better wages or strong unions, we’re the lazy and entitled ones.

“Millennials are addicted to social media.” This one really makes me laugh. Sure, millennials may have invented most, if not all, of the most popular websites visited today. But are we the most “addicted?” I don’t think so. This may only be anecdotal evidence but of all my Facebook friends, the two who post the most are women between the ages of 40 and 50. I just counted, and one of them posted 18 times in the past 24 hours. The other posted 29 times in the past 12 hours. The fact that most of their posts are sharing fake news and conspiracy theories from non reputable news sources is a whole other problem. Maybe you Gen-Xers should spend less time on Facebook and more time reading a book or an actual newspaper.

Now if you’re a member of Gen-X you might be thinking, “Geez, you can’t just generalize an entire generation like that. Not all of us are like that.” Yes, I agree. Now remember that the next time you’re tempted to make an offhand remark about how millennials are whatever you’d like to imagine we are.

j.adams@dailyutahchronicle.com