It is the definitive rallying cry, the unifying grievance of every teenager-to-twenty-something-year-old in family gatherings, or any event involving adults. When the conversation turns to the topic of millennials, or indeed any inkling involving the current generation of youth, it is the tendency for the conversation to go south — immediately.
Indeed, in the recent years since the very term “millennial” itself was introduced into public consciousness, nearly any and every insult and slander conceived has been thrown in association with the very generation in question — from their laziness to their entitlement; from their constant activism and warfare on social media, to their complete inability to live independently from the Internet.
Indeed, with such coverage and flak millennials get in the media, it is no wonder they carry an immensely bad rep IRL (and if you’re not in the know, IRL is millennial-talk, Internet-slang for “In real life”), particularly among those of older generations. Whether it is the harping on about youths’ obsession with leading thorough virtual lives or their over-inflated perception of themselves, it has seemed, at least amongst older generations, that the world has all but fallen apart, and the majority of the world’s population has pointed their collective finger to millennials to blame.
And in all this ongoing snowstorm of hatred and criticism, it is indeed much easier to nitpick the unfavorable, what with a wide palate of negative characteristics to choose from. It is, after all, much easier to point out the flaws in others, if only to feel better for ourselves. And in this case, to highlight the flaws of an entire generation — an entire demographic — only satisfies and validates a group’s collective sense of patronizing superiority, the “been-there-done-that-better-than-you” attitude of elder generations, only seemingly magnified now more than ever.
But what is it, exactly, that so irritates older generations of the kids these days, as they so like to say? It is, after all, nothing new for generations past to criticize youthful behavior — tales as as old pre-civilization periods themselves, literally, have illustrated time and again instances of elder generations criticizing their younger counterparts for any myriad of reasons, be it their arrogance or their abrasive recklessness, or anything in between.
So in retrospect, the onslaught of criticism against the youth is quite literally a tale as old as time, and millennials getting what has seemed to be the brunt of the criticism is nothing short of unfair and arbitrary. Like the myriad of generations that have come before, millennials are significantly shaped by the world they have grown up in — the only world they have known. And in this case, that particular world is one both embracing and embraced by the Internet, and the rapid maturing and proliferation of modern technology. Indeed, if anything, it is the hand-in-hand coming-of-age between millennials and technology that is perhaps what will most define the 2000s millennium. In looking back decades from now, the turning of the 21st century will be best marked by the technological revolution that took hold of the entire world, and with it bringing the moving in of larger society into the new, novel space of the Internet — and to an extent, social media.
And in all this, it is none but the millennials who have been most influenced and affected. As the singular generation who grew into adulthood witnessing this very revolution in real time, millennials came of age with this as the only world they knew — the world of widespread technology, worldwide connectivity, and easier access to information and intelligence than there ever has been — literally in the click of a button — or now, in the tap of a finger.
Happening Now: A stand against gun violence in Chicago. @ChancetheRapper, Parkland shooting survivors and @AMarch4OurLives kicking off #RoadToChange in Chicago.
The goal: rally young people around saving lives. @cbschicago #MarchForOurLives #chicagostrong pic.twitter.com/R5KBgs6CiW— Audrina Bigos (@AudrinaBigos) 16 June 2018
And with the assurance of comprehensive data at such little effort, millennials (and currently, those who come after: Gen-Zs), have all grown to become the most informed and educated generation of youth that ever has been. Years of growing along and within the realm of the Internet has educated millennial youths of international events and relevant issues — far better than their predecessors. With the aid of easily accessible information, modern youths have increasingly been in constant awareness of the issues that matter — issues of human rights, gun violence, sexual harassment, and environmentalism are no strangers to discussions among students, now more than ever. And in the rapidly approaching future, the youth — that is, millennials and Gen-Zs — will be at the forefront of making such groundbreaking decisions. So after all, while youthful idealism is nothing new, millennials have ultimately utilized the Internet for the greater good: learning and speaking on the issues that matter and will eventually build their future — far from the negative reputation of endless selfie-posting and mindless nonsense-tweeting.
So in defense of the millennials, the world is one in a constant state of change, and millennials have learned to grow and thrive in the only world they have known — one with flawed, broken systems, plagued with big problems no-one has yet learned to solve. Indeed, such problems are far from new — nothing that generations past have attempted to tackle. But millennials have seen their attempts, and they have witnessed their failures. They are aware that the world is a difficult place to live in, but they are young, idealistic — and well-informed. And they might just be able to make it better — they certainly are learning how to, step by step.