Of my younger millennial co-workers, on more than one occasion I’ve thought: “If only I were half or even a quarter as good as these people when I was 22. Or 25. Or 30. Or last week.”
Off the top of my head, I’ve heard millennials be referred to as entitled, lazy, soft, electronics- and social media-obsessed younger adults who need to be marketed to and coddled in certain ways, among other things. However, there’s one other trait I would ascribe to millennials: human. Let’s not lose sight of that.
The well-regarded Pew Research Center defines millennials as those born between 1981 and 1997—in other words, many of the people I know, and increasingly, many of my co-workers. And maybe yours, too.
Millennials, in my experience, have largely been phenomenal people with good work ethics and strong skills. My wife is a millennial. My boss is a millennial. People I depend upon daily are millennials. By some definitions, I’m a millennial. So why does it feel like there’s such a surge of negativity toward this group of people?
Answer: Older generations are haters. Always have been. They’re jealous because time has passed them by.
No generation has ever come of age, likely in any era of human history, without a previous generation complaining about it. The generation of my grandparents—they survived the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, beat the Nazis in World War II and put an Ohioan on the moon—surely had its detractors in the generation of my great-grandparents or anyone else just old enough to complain about them. Here’s what they were likely saying about my grandparents’ generation in the 1930s:
“Those lazy, soft, stupid kids and their technology. America’s going to hell with them in charge.”
Sound familiar? America did just fine with my grandparents’ generation at the forefront, and we’ll do well with millennials at the helm, too. Actually, we may do better: For all the flak millennials get, according to some data, they seem to care a hell of a lot about social causes and responsibility, among other ideals.
As we get older—and even now—millennials will be our doctors, neighbors, teachers, soldiers, friends, co-workers and first responders. Whether cranky older people like it or not, millennials are our future. And based on what I’ve seen from the young folks I know, we’re in good hands—even if one of those hands often has a smartphone in it.
Five best millennials ever, aside from my wife: my two college-age cousins • the guy at McDonald’s who is nice to me and serves me food • you, if applicable • the kid who just graduated high school and joined the military