The Hated Generation
Millennials are not defined by traits like laziness or disrespect, and I am not ashamed to be part of the most accepting group of Americans yet.
By Lindsey Davis, Iowa State University
Lazy, entitled, addicted to social media, disrespectful.
According to my estimation, the word millennial has gained a slew of negative connotations within the last couple years. I think part of the reason older generations like the Baby Boomers and Generation X view the group of people born between the early 1980s and 2000s in such a bad light is due to dismal depictions in the media.
Shows like “Teen Mom” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” portray millennials as narcissistic, air-headed and constantly glued to their phones. The figures in these shows offer commentary and act in such a way that they’re made easy targets for criticism and demeaning jokes.
Of course, it’s not just semi-celebrities on network television reality shows that give millennials a bad name. People from all generations are certain to have encountered at least one or two teenagers or twenty-somethings in their lifetime that they can point to and say, “Here lies a prime example of a millennial that confirms the generation’s disparaging reputation.” I admit, even as a millennial myself, I can point to multiple individuals in my personal life that I condone for perpetuating the millennial stereotype.
Before writing this piece, I scoured the internet to see what articles have been written about millennials before. I knew there would be an extensive amount, seeing as the generation is currently a popular epithet in mass media and culture, but I didn’t expect to see such a diverse range of angles on the topic.
After scrolling past the initial site listings defining the word “millennial,” scores of articles about the generation’s work ethic, frugality and diversity appeared. I clicked my way through page after page trying to locate at least one headline that shed hatred, but after getting to page 15 of about 37,000,000, I gave up. Apparently, it takes more than typing the word “millennial” into the search box to find negativity. This really surprised me.
Yet all it took was the addition of the word “articles” in a Google search to detect the disapproval.
Most of these posts discuss the self-entitlement, laziness and downright absurd actions of millennials. Some are written by those of an older generation, others are rants from millennials themselves pleading to be disassociated from their counterparts.
As a 22-year-old college student, I am obviously surrounded by people of my generation each and every day. I will reiterate that yes, I do know millennials who live up to the various stereotypes linked to the group, but I also ask, what body of people doesn’t carry stigmas that reign true with at least a couple of their individuals?
I find millennials the most open-minded, diverse and progressive generation. In my lifetime, gay marriage was legalized and an African American held the position of commander-in-chief for eight years. The support and ideals of the millennial generation boosted the efforts to make these two events occur. Transgender individuals now have wider access to healthcare and are portrayed on television shows like “Shameless.” The New York Times even reported that millennials are “generation nice.”
Ben Shapiro, a writer for Breitbart news (gag), wrote an article discussing “7 Reasons Millennials Are the Worst Generation.” Examples of his reasoning include “They don’t know anything about politics,” and “They smoke.” Wowzers—insert eye roll emoji here.
The data Shapiro used to claim millennials are ill-informed about politics comes from one survey of 2,000 young adults. Iowa State University, the college I attend, has over 36,000 students. The number surveyed in the data Shapiro based his evidence off is barely a fragment of just one Iowan public university. You worked very hard to research that area, Shapiro.
Proving that millennials smoke more than other generations like it’s the most awful offense of all time seems like a very lazy sentiment. To use that claim in order to portray millennials as the “worst” is short-sighted. Maybe Shapiro could have looked at issues that really matter, like how millennials view race relations or deal with social justice. Although I’m sure he strayed away from doing so because he may have found a preponderance of evidence showing just how accepting millennials are.
In an article titled “Why Millennials are the Worst Generation to Ever Live,” Mohamed Amine Belarbi states, “When it comes to working hard, taking risks, going out of our comfort zone and going all in, we simply say NO and fall back on our chair while enjoying MTV.”
Don’t mind me just seething over here. See, there’s many other people who feel the way I do about working their tails off in order to achieve dreams. That’s one thing I always have, and will, believe in, but there’s still people like Belarbi who are so quick to shame an entire generation based on a select few examples of lazy, self-entitled individuals.
Contradictorily, Belarbi goes on to say, “We attend classes we dislike because we’ll get jobs. We take on jobs we hate because it brings a paycheck.” I must ask, what does it matter if someone doesn’t enjoy their career, but continues to work in order to provide security for themselves and their family? That’s a pretty outstanding value if you ask me.
I really am fed up with the hate and negative comments aimed at millennials. I will never deny the fact that many of my peers within the same generation as me are lazy and self-entitled, because I certainly know people who are. Yet I could probably find a Baby Boomer who acts just the same. To stereotype millions and millions of people is just ridiculous. The millennials I surround myself with and so many other individuals I have read about, seen on television or talked to in person, are extraordinarily hardworking and wish to create a better world for all.
I love that I’m a millennial, and no amount of animosity or pessimism will make me claim otherwise.