It’s no secret that millennials get a bad rap.
We’re constantly called lazy, spoiled, selfish, etc. It seems like almost every day a new article comes out telling the world another reason we’re horrible. Just turn to our Opinion page today, and there’s another article talking about the generation in a negative light.
Earlier this month, a ballpark in Alabama advertised a “millennial night,” filled with participation ribbons, napping areas and selfie stations.
It’s a tired troupe that millennials are an awful group of people, and it seems more and more likely each day that the people writing negatively about millennials don’t even really know who falls in the generation — rather they just use the word as a blanket term to talk about America’s youth.
Before I go any further, it’s important to note that the millennial generation refers to those born from 1981 to 1996.
At least that’s how the Pew Research Center describes us. That makes some millennials close to 40 and the youngest in their 20s. So people refer to them in a manner that makes them sound like children, when in reality we’re all adults.
But, putting all that aside, the way in which we talk about millennials needs to be addressed.
You may be rolling your eyes at this point, and I get that.
For so long, we were an easy target to blame for everything from the rise of social media to the demise of paper napkins. We apparently eat too many avocados and can’t afford housing because of bachelor parties.
I’m not making this up, either. Each example above is the thesis of a few articles I’ve read in the past year. I normally ignore most of the things I read about my generation that are written by people who have made no effort to understand us. But I thought it would be a good time to shine some light on the situation.
Yes, we live in the age of social media. Some people will think it’s a good thing, while some think we live in an Orwellian dystopia where we are addicted to our screens. Both sides are valid, but to say that millennials are the only ones addicted to their phones is nonsense. I see just as many baby boomers attached to their screens as my peers are. And yeah, maybe we take too many selfies, but it’s just easier to grab pictures with our friends that way.
The other great thing about social media is how easy it is to stay connected to family and friends who don’t live near you anymore. Facebook certainly has its problems, but it’s a great way for my mother to see pictures and videos of her grandson in Arkansas, and that’s a very good thing.
My favorite argument is the avocado toast argument. Every week financial analysts publish articles trying to explain absurd reasons millennials don’t buy homes or diamonds, when in reality, the answer is much more simple: We’re in debt.
Going to college is an extremely expensive endeavor these days, and with more people attending college, you can’t get as far in a career having only a bachelor’s degree. We’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on education, having to take unpaid internships just to get experience.
And once we do get jobs, we have very expensive loan payments each month.
I’m married, both my husband and I work full time in good jobs, and we couldn’t afford a house even if we wanted one. And the reason has nothing to do with our feelings about avocados or our bachelor and bachelorette parties. It is simply the fact that with our combined income and our collective debt, a mortgage is out of the question.
It really is time people cut us some slack.
Most of us are productive members of society just trying to make our way in the world.
And as time goes by more and more millennials will find themselves in positions of power, from running companies to politics and everything in between.
So may be it would be best if we could all stop pointing fingers and work together for once.
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Reach Brigid Edmunds-Lawrence at 570-991-6113 or on Twitter @brigidedmunds