In Defense of Millennials

In Defense of Millennials
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Through the ages, these same words have been spoken in Athens, Rome, and Tokyo: "This younger generation is going to the dogs!" Now, people are saying the same thing about Millennials. Stereotypes paint a picture of Millennials--those born after 1980--as narcissistic, lazy, and spoiled.

Elder generations have been blaming societal problems and degrading morals on rising generations since the beginning of time. It's almost a rite of passage. Given that Millennials now comprise the largest generation alive, it would benefit us to take a deeper look at Millennials to better understand these influential contemporaries.

Times change and people change. Fifty years ago, it was considered honorable to work 9:00-5:00 with one company and then retire with a gold watch. Life was good and people were satisfied. Today, people who strive to live that same dream are prematurely laid off, can't survive on their salaries, or don't have enough to retire. It's a different world. In our present-day society, Millennials change jobs an average of 6.4 times by the ripe old age of 30, as compared to Baby Boomers, who averaged 2.4 jobs by that same age. Career goals have shifted from long-term stability within one company to job hopping in search of work-life balance, meaningful work, and rapid advancement.

Technology has changed the world more rapidly than anything since the Industrial Revolution. From the explosion of social media to the abundance of startups, it's certainly reasonable to conclude that the behaviors of Millennials are shaped by the times in which we live.

During a series of lectures I recently gave in San Francisco, I had the honor of addressing a group of high school seniors. To my experience, they were representative of young Millennials. My interactions with them reminded me of my own daughter and her friends. They were all reflective deep thinkers, and were concerned and conscientious about their futures and what they wanted to do with their lives. Their values were good and just. I saw no significant difference between them and the young people from my own era.The only difference I saw was that they are growing up in a different time with different conditions.

Millennials today are growing up in an environment where they see young people with one good idea become billionaires practically overnight. They see the manufacturing workforce losing their jobs and being driven to near extinction. They live in a time of massive expansion of the money supply with potentially devastating hyperinflation pending. They're growing up in a time when 90% of the dollar bills in America are tainted with cocaine. It's a different world than the one I knew at their age, and they are adjusting accordingly.

Millennials are just concerned with getting by and having a meaningful worthwhile life. If they are upset about anything, it's the difficult position they've been put in with the high cost of education, difficulty getting home loans, healthcare chaos, terrorism, immigration conflicts, global warming, etc. Certainly all those are just concerns of a conscientious Millennial generation.

It seems to me that Millennials have been getting a bad rap. I think it's high time they are recognized and appreciated for the great generation they are. A study done by Pew Research found Millennials to be more diverse, educated, and technologically savvy than any other generation.

A little positive feedback and support is far more constructive than a derogatory labeling. We need to talk with our young people thoughtfully and respectfully to help them move forward with their lives. Those young people I spoke with in San Francisco were first class human beings. They longed for wisdom and insight. They renewed my faith in humanity and our future.

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