As a Gen-Xer (or Generation X) I’m known as a part of the Lost Generation, Latchkey Kid or oftentimes the Forgotten Generation. We are stuck between Baby Boomers and Millennials (Generation Y) — so the word ‘lost’ appropriately applies as those two other categories get much more press.
Here, I want to focus in on the Millennials out there. As a University Lecturer it wasn’t long ago that all of my students were from the Millennial column. Now that I teach Centennials (Generation Z) I get to see where the Gen Y students have ended up in the work force and life. Life is a continuous journey, but the time right after college graduation is interesting if not crucial at times.
Let the bashing begin
“Those d&%# Millenials” is something I hear all the time when others ask what I do.
First off, I teach Gen Z, not Millennials. Second, Gen Y isn’t what you think it is — but more on that in a second.
Gen Y gets a bad rap in my opinion. It’s easily the most beat-up generation. Older people love to bash them, blame them for everything wrong with the world, and constantly put them all in the same negative pot. Words like lazy, worthless, self-important, and clueless come to mind.
Critics will even utter the word Millennial with disdain and disgust like Jerry saying, “Hello, Newman.”
Millennials are not what they seem. Here are just a few things to keep in mind when you hear all the unsolicited negative opinions on this unique generation:
- are the largest population in the U.S.
- volunteered to the military in record numbers after 9/11
- are pushing 40 — yes, 40!
- are leading industries in the STEM fields
- helped develop and launch the latest Space X project
- are breaking never-before-seen ground in health and medical fields
- are more accepting of other races, lifestyles, and cultures
- value life balance more than money
- feel that volunteering is an important part of life
- are forward, proactive thinkers willing to learn
Now, I can already hear some out there voicing a laundry list of negatives to counteract the positives, but doesn’t every generation have its flaws? Baby Boomers had to endure racism, the ills of smoking, and then there’s the ever popular angry, “Get off my lawn!” types. Does that mean all Baby Boomers are like that? Of course not. But if we are to apply those rules to them, we must apply them to every group.
Every generation will criticize the new one. But in reality it’s not all that fair. Each generation grew up differently. Gen X (me) had to learn a new age of technology that we didn’t grow up with whether we liked it or not. If we didn’t adapt we would be left behind. Gen Y grew up in tech and all the conveniences it provided.
Is it their fault they didn’t have to walk 20 miles to school, in the snow, uphill both ways? If you went back in time I bet any Baby Boomer wasn’t enjoying that aspect of those times. I’m sure they had their fair share of complaints from their parents. I’m sure they were criticized for watching TV, riding a school bus, and having all kinds of appliances around the house for convenience.
It’s all relative.
There is no vacuum
We like to think that our personal generation stands alone. But the fact is that the lines are blurred. There are not definitive borders. Each generation advances society, adds to the one before it, and adopts new and helpful tools, technology, and best practices.
All generations can learn from one another, all are important, and all have their own unique gifts. We were all a part of the new generation once, let’s not bash one over the other. Besides, that Millennial over there that you think is screwing off might be creating and developing something amazing that may change the world for the better and might, just might be your boss one day.
I’m hopeful for the Millennial Generation. I think they have the potential to be the next greatest generation. Yes, the bashing and negativity will continue, but with time actions will speak louder words and the world will continue to be a better place because of them.
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