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Opinion: In defense of our generation

The millennials are more than what they seem.
Photo courtesy Facebook

Lazy. Selfish. Spoiled. Delusional. Greedy. These are hasty generalizations often used to describe the millennial generation.

Born roughly between 1980 and 2000, these young adults, including college-aged people, seem like they are constantly scrutinized and put down. Before the millennials, it was the baby boomers, and after us it’s generation Z. But we, the millennials, seem to be especially threatening to many.

In 2013, Millennials: the Me Me Me Generation by Joel Stein was featured on Time magazine’s cover. This story garnered attention from the very generation it insulted, which was the point of course. Stein spends the entire first half of the article insulting all the 20 somethings in the world.

“What millennials are most famous for besides narcissism is it’s effect: entitlement,” and “Not only do millennials lack the kind of empathy that allows them to be concerned for others, but they also have trouble intellectually even understanding others’ points of view.” In other words, millennials are selfish, entitled and stupid. While Stein ended his article with a positive look at our generation’s potential, millennials are still the punch line.

The Pew Research Center has pages of data on the same generation, happily diminishing thousands of young people into a few characteristics. Its “How Millennial Are You?” quiz will give you a millennial score based on the number of texts you’ve sent and if you have tattoos or piercings, among other things.

CBS’ 60 Minutes headline proclaims “The Millennials are Coming” as though we are something to be feared. The article warns employers, “They were raised by doting parents who told them they are special, played in little leagues with no winners or losers, or all winners. They are laden with trophies just for participating and they think your business-as-usual ethic is for the birds.”

With all this bad press, maybe we are something to be feared.

People think we take too many selfies and don’t know how to share; that we don’t know how to work for what we have and we feel entitled to success. (Additionally, they throw in the fact that we are environmentally conscious and tech-savvy, as though it makes up for the less-than-savory characteristics we are all plastered with.)

Luckily for baby boomers, we aren’t what they say we are. We are driven and educated, finding ways to deal with student debt, a dwindling job market and stereotypes that constantly tell us we can’t.

Just at UNF, our students are accomplishing so much: seizing opportunities to research important topics as undergraduates, advancing technology and discussing topics important to deal with in order to progress as a society. All anyone has to do is take a look around campus to see how motivated and eager our students, and our age group as a whole, are.

Beyond campus, people our age are truly stepping up to solve problems created by previous generations. Excessive spending has caused the nation’s debt to hover around $18 trillion, and now it is up to our generation to repay it. The environment, too, has suffered from blatant disregard for future generations, and we are left to come up with solutions to clean up the mess. Although our generation is making steady progress toward repairing said problems, we are still the butt of every joke. We are paying for another generation’s selfishness, yet we are labeled as the “me me me generation.”

This article is in defense of all the times people have assumed we are privileged slackers, waiting for our dreams to come true with no effort on our parts; in defense of our fortunate upbringing that is in no way a negative thing; in defense of our desire to have the best we can for ourselves and our own children.

We are not lazy, selfish, spoiled, delusional or greedy. We are just different, and that scares older generations who don’t know how to relate to us. We shouldn’t have to apologize for being what we were born to be, and we shouldn’t be boxed in by a few negative adjectives. Labels are just words designed to suppress our generation’s potential.

For more information or news tips, contact [email protected]; if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact features@unfspinnaker.com.

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