I have this simmering anger that I’ve been trying to placate for the past couple of years. While inching nearer to my 30s has given me a more positive outlook in life that came with being able to let go (or in some cases, ruthlessly cut-off) of negativity, there is one topic that I can’t seem to just look away from. AND, I feel like I need to say something about it before we hit the new year. Every time I see someone posting about it on Facebook or another news article comes out about it, I find myself rolling my eyes. It just puts me in a bad mood. So what is this thing, messing with my zen, you may ask? It’s the hate against millennials.
It’s stupid, biased, and it does nothing whatsoever to help any of the generations that are currently trudging through life on Earth. It takes all of my self-control not to get into a comment war with someone posting unfounded, negative BS about my generation. Sometimes, I feel like I’m also betraying us. Should I have stood up for my fellow millennials and said something?
Who are the Millennials?
Before I go any further in this (about to be) long
rant article, let’s see who the millennials are. The Center for Generational Kinetics gives us this handy guide:
- Gen Z, iGen, or Centennials: Born 1996 and later
- Millennials or Gen Y: Born 1977 to 1995
- Generation X: Born 1965 to 1976
- Baby Boomers: Born 1946 to 1964
- Traditionalists or Silent Generation: Born 1945 and before
No, Xennials are not a part of this list and I will get to that later. So now that we’ve straightened this out, let’s summarise it. If you were born between 1977 to 1995, then you’re a millennial. Unless you can magically change the year of your birth by drinking some Harry Potter potion, then no – you cannot call yourself a ‘Gen Xer’ if you’re not 41 years old in 2017.
Xennial? That’s not even a real thing!
There’s been a rise in older millennials being delusional and calling themselves Gen Xers. Someone must have finally seen how dumb that was and came out with the term Xennial for people born between 1977 to 1983. This, to appease these people who are throwing (digital and even real-life) tantrums about it because they want to be seen as people who were more mature.
But let’s face it. Xennial isn’t even a real thing. Even an online quiz created by the person who came up with the term does not make sense. It pegs me as a Xennial when I was born right smack in the middle of 1989. No, thanks.
In every generation, you’ll find outliers. You have Gen Xers behaving more like Millennials and vice versa. I love music from the 50s and I’m a big Original Trilogy Star Wars fan. I grew up reading books while listening to The Cure and I was always tinkering with a betamax to watch the X-Files. But I don’t walk around calling myself something other than a Millennial. Why would I? We’re all on the same boat at some point.
So, yes. Please stop fooling yourself into thinking that you can choose your generation. It’s like race – you just can’t pick. Also, everyone is pegged with a stereotype that’s hard to shake off. That’s just how it is. You learn to live with it, shed it eventually, then hate on the generation that came after you. Pretty sucky cycle, don’t you think?
Why Gen X?
A quick Google search asking for the definition of ‘Generation X’ gives you this:
Disaffected? Directionless? I don’t see anything here that really improves anyone’s street cred. News flash. Before there were Millennials, the Baby Boomers and the ones that came before them were having the time of their lives putting Gen X down.
While Gen X did give us grunge, the Spice Girls, and Jeff Bezos, they also gave us this ‘whatever’ outlook on life. And for a generation that was also pretty obsessed with themselves, thinking they are better than every single one of their peers, they seem to have a lot of bad things to say about selfies. Imagine if the camera phone came out in the late 80s. Imagine how different things would be.
This article from Vice pretty much sums it all up if you want to read another take after finishing this one. 😉
So really – why is everyone itching to be in a different generation when all of us have our own stereotypes to shed. And forgive me for saying this but I’d rather be an overly-driven millennial who’s disinterested in starting a family than be labeled as someone directionless. Or even worse – a pretentious, grunge-loving teen, who worked at a Tower Records at one point while spewing my nihilistic views on life in an ‘I’m so emo and better than all of you’ kind of way.
And don’t think I forgot about Baby Boomers – remember the 70s and how fun those acid trips were? Hmm?
Do these sweeping generalisation hurt? Do they?
“But wait, Carol” – you say to me, my dear reader. “Not every Baby Boomer was a druggie in the 70s and not all Gen Xers are nihilistic! Also, not all Gen Xers were just ‘critiquing popular culture, but completely oblivious to their own unfathomable level of privilege’!”
Well of course! So, would you also agree when I say that not all millennials are entitled, lazy, and selfie-obsessed?
Just today, I came to terms with the fact that there is one thing I am really shy about – asking money for my work. I’ve also never marched up to any one of the bosses I’ve had and demanded for a promotion. This is not the way we Millennials have been portrayed and it gets to me every single time when someone just generalises and gives us such a bad image.
Does Simon Sinek ring a bell? Yeah, that ‘motivational speaker’ who gave my generation such a bad name through an online video? How many companies do you think are not that keen on hiring someone nowadays just because he/she is a millennial? Sinek’s video obviously did its job well.
When I was working full time, I hardly went on leaves. There was only one time that I did when I was working for a TV station and that was to go back to Europe to reconnect with my father. I was gone for one month – you know, the type of leaves privileged people from the West get every single year? I only asked for it ONCE. At a time when it was horribly cold to go to Europe but it was the only time I could go because elections were coming. Before and even after I took that leave, I was working 12-14 hour work days and was rarely absent even when I was sick.
The next relatively long leave I had? One week for my wedding AND honeymoon when I was working for an online news agency. As a reporter, I was always on call and working even after I’ve gone home, still typing away on my computer. My husband, also a Millennial, and I were too shy to ask for longer leaves because there was work to be done.
And this isn’t just us. I know a lot of people like me and even ones that have it worse. We travel on weekends or shyly ask for an extra day of leave just to add 24 hours more for travel allowance on that long-weekend side trip we’ve been waiting for. We constantly need to prove to our older bosses that we’re not slackers. This, despite working long hours daily at that. All thanks to people like Sinek who paint a really bad picture of us as workers.
So yes, how dare you put us all in one, privileged box. Not everyone got everything just by asking for it. A lot of us work hard too.
Lumping Millennials with Gen Z
Another thing that’s been going on is that Millennials are being lumped with Gen Zs. Those teenagers right now? The ones that are 21 and below are not Millennials. Those teenagers are the sons and daughters of Gen Xers so you may wish to take up whatever weird behaviour you find annoying with them.
Or, if you’re an annoyed Gen Xer yourself, maybe check your parenting as well as that of your peers.
But here’s the thing: like Millennials, Generation Z is young. And people will just have to wait for us to get older. Us Millennials are getting there with most of our generation now in their late 20s and early 30s. We’re slowly losing ‘Bae’ and other terms our younger peers came up with as we are getting older. Most of us are also slowly losing the selfie obsession with the younger generations now taking over that.
I’m pretty sure most Gen Xers are not as directionless as they were before. They now have families, mouths to feed, and jobs to keep.
We’re Not Perfect
Stereotypes exist for a reason. They always come from somewhere. BUT. It is unfair to pin them on every single person in one generation. We all have people nowadays saying that we shouldn’t stereotype by race. That we should be welcoming and accepting of others’ differences. Why can’t we be accepting of the differences that each generation has?
I know of people who got those participation medals Sinek kept yapping about. I’ve met two people who got into schools they wanted because their parents knew someone who could hook them up. I also know one person who believes it’s okay to overlook ethics and just take things away from other people just because he/she can. I’ve met Millennials who have no respect for authority the way Gen Xers were when they were young. But are you really going to tell me that these instances never happened in previous generations?
But for every lazy, entitled, and privileged fellow Millennial I’ve met, there are 10 (or even more) I personally know as hardworking, confident, driven workers. Millennials who really want to make a difference even if it takes a while. There are Millennials who recognise career ladders and climbing them properly and those who, despite the unavailability of jobs in tough industries, learn new skill sets that can let them try new careers. Just last night, a friend (and fellow Millennial) was teaching me the wonders of digital marketing. It’s something she learned by herself after university because despite taking up Marketing in school, this was not part of the curriculum yet. So, she taught herself how it works and how to do it well.
We’re flexible, we learn quickly, and we’re digital natives. Some of our peers are knee-deep in collge loans. With inflation, we’re practically earning less than what older generations were making when they were our age – but hey, we make it work. The job market sucks but that isn’t stopping us. We are creating whole new careers with the opportunities and technology that’s presented to us!
We experienced going from analogue to digital, from landlines to smartphones, from cassette tapes to streaming music. Our parents made us see the original Star Wars trilogy before they brought us to the theatres to see how horrible Episodes I, II, and III were!
Despite the flaws on parenting that some people blame or even the faults of some of our generation’s members when we/they were young(er), we’re still the bridge that connects the retro with the modern.
Time to Stop the Stereotyping
“Ask your lazy/ignorant Millennial friend if he/she knows what a polaroid/the Original Star Wars Trilogy/a cassette tape is.”
Such a popular social media rhetoric these days followed by derisive LOLs. Of course, we know what those are. The sad part is sometimes, it’s early Millennials themselves taking such a stab at their own generation. Making it hard for their fellow Millennials to get hired in their dream workplaces or even for their bosses to acknowledge their hard work. It’s like shooting yourself and your friends on the foot.
Maybe, if we stop stereotyping each other and work with each other’s good qualities then we’ll achieve something greater. But if older generations just keep hating and dismissing the younger ones without even hearing about what we can bring to the table and if the younger generation isn’t too keen to diligently and properly work their way up, then maybe they’re right. The world is indeed – pardon my French – fucked.