Thanksgiving is approaching, and we all know what’s coming besides the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes: the questions. Whether it be from parents, grandparents, or aunts and uncles, the second a cellphone buzzes, someone never fails to ask, “Wouldn’t you rather talk in person or on the phone than text?”
“Wouldn’t you prefer to read a physical newspaper instead of articles online?”
“What is that awful music you kids are listening to nowadays?”
“What’s the point of putting a picture on Instagram?”
Usually, my response is an embarrassed laugh and something along the lines of, “I don’t know, things really were better back when you guys were young, I guess…”
Honestly though? Do I really feel like I’m missing out on a better way of life? No, I don’t. I wouldn’t prefer those things at all. I don’t want to pretend anymore that my generation is going about life the wrong way just because it’s different than how previous generations went about it.
I’ve been conditioned by older generations’ expectations to be ashamed of my more contemporary habits. How is that beneficial for society’s progression? How is this mentality going to promote and encourage the evolution of our species? It’s not.
Millennials’ (those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s) lives are indeed very different from the lives of earlier generations. As with all forms of change, many question, challenge, and defy our modern habits. And apparently, millennials do not have the best reputation.
“The guys who won World War II and that whole generation have disappeared, and now we have a bunch of teenage twits.” Sticks and stones, Clint Eastwood. I think you misunderstand us.
Older generations are quick to condemn our increased technology use, love of social media, inclination to text instead of call, music trends, and expectation of quickly accessible information. We are lazy, entitled, and in constant need of entertainment.
Despite these criticisms, we millennials are expected to use our energy, intelligence, technological expertise, and modern educational opportunities to make the world a better place. Those who came before us who question our lifestyle also expect us to mend the shattered pieces of society.
It is obvious that politically, environmentally, and ethically, society cannot continue as it is now. We millennials realize this and we are prepared to use our new and improved methods of living to clean up some of the mess that remains.
Instead of perpetuating the cynicism of the human condition in the wake of climate change, religious persecution, intense poverty, and political upheaval, we should rejoice in the possibility of an improved society at the hands of our youngest generation.
Millennials have the power to influence change in the world, and we have the technology and opportunity for exciting scientific advancement. Still trying to find our place, some of us are still in high school and college waiting for our chance. Others have begun to enter the workforce and are starting to make our marks on the world.
Society must recognize and encourage millennials’ strengths rather than tearing them down. We are the ones who will endeavor to improve and restore what’s broken in the world.
Every generation encounters and must address the difficulties of its era. Every single one of us, young and old, has been or will be part of a movement to preserve and sustain society’s goodness. It’s time to stop condemning millennials and start nurturing and inspiring this younger generation by seeing our differences as strengths, not flaws.
Millennials could have more hope for the future than any generation alive today, once we realize our own power and purpose. Instead of trashing millennials for all of the things we do that are different from older folks and labeling us as a generation of lazy ignoramuses, people of all ages should encourage millennials’ resilience and determination.
Hope for the future has always lied in the hands of younger generations. President Franklin Roosevelt, speaking to those who would become America’s baby boomer generation, said, “There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.” The same could be true for us millennials as well.
Perhaps, we deserve a little less flak for our modern habits and a little more credit for our bold attempt at tackling the seemingly ominous future ahead.