If you think about it, every generation enjoys hassling subsequent generations about their work ethic, morals and cultural contributions to society. Members of the Greatest Generation, who lived through the Depression and World War II, thought Baby Boomers were privileged and entitled, Baby Boomers considered Generation X a bunch of whiners who didn’t want to work and Gen Xers often poke fun at millennials for everything from getting their parents to write their college admission letters to singlehandedly destroying music with all of the beeps and blips on their electronic devices.
Unfortunately, some rather unflattering myths about millennials are sticking and it’s time to separate fact from fiction. Here are nine things millennials are sick and tired of hearing about themselves.
Young adults were hit by the recession and, as a result, you may see fewer teens and people in their 20s working 9-to-5 jobs. In general, millennials are making less money than previous generations and have less spending power. Rent is a major expense. The decision to stay at home longer than their Gen-X cousins is often a choice made between cooking dry noodles over a stove that frequently has the gas turned off or saving money and surrounding oneself with family.
It's not that millennials don't want to work, it's that they want to work differently, and why the heck not? There's a good reason they're demanding more flexible work schedules and "me time" on the job: They likely grew up watching their parents struggle to cook a meal after getting home at 7 p.m. or find time to do things like drag themselves to a doctor when they were feeling ill. And is it even necessary for me to drag maternity and paternity leave into this mess? Our work environments and work/life balance could be better and we should all be rooting for millennials to make strides in this area.
Tell that to influential millennials like David Karp, Malala Yousafzai, Adele and Mark Zuckerberg. According to consulting firm CEB, 59 percent of millennials said competition is "what gets them up in the morning," compared with 50 percent of baby boomers.
In almost every discussion about music, you’ll hear gripes about how young people have no idea what good music is and that you’ll never again find tunes as authentic as those put out by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, John Coltrane or fill-in-the-blank. But people always forget that for every “Norwegian Wood” there was a “Wild Honey Pie” (ask your parents or grandparents what I mean). It’s arrogant to assume great music isn’t being made nowadays because you can’t get on board with modern hip-hop, K-Pop, J-Pop, uplifting pop, thoughtful goth and about a million other subgenres out there. Music is supposed to reflect cultural change and millennials deserve an opportunity to create something that tells their story.
The way some tell it, millennial dating is one big communal orgy in which no one communicates and everyone is having sex with everyone else. Here’s what’s actually happening: Since the 1960s, there has been a steady decline in marriage among folks in their 20s, and only 26 percent of millennials (compared with 65 percent of young people in 1960) are opting to tie the knot between the ages of 18 and 32. That means more time to date and, yes, for some, possibly more sexual partners. But that doesn’t mean every millennial is sleeping with every person they meet for a beer.
I’m not about to argue that we aren’t a whole lot more butt-centric than we were pre-Kardashian, but there’s another, positive story behind all of the yoga gear you see on the street: turns out millennials are more health-conscious than previous generations, with 24 percent focused on eating right (compared with 12 percent of baby boomers) and 22 percent into fitness (compared with 14 percent of Gen Xers and 12 percent of baby boomers). Maybe they have more time to dedicate to fitness and health, true, but those yoga pants are probably being worn by someone who gets her bridge pose on.
They grew up with computers in their homes and they had phones at an early age, so naturally, millennials have mastered the art of the 140-character tweet and prefer to communicate with friends via social media. But how is this any different than Gen X teens passing notes to one another in class? Than a baby boomer getting yelled at by her mom for running up the phone bill? Different times, different technology, but the goal remains the same: communication and expression.
Don’t even get me started on this one. Someone told me the other day about an uber popular series of YouTube videos called Let's Play where people watch others playing video games and comment on their plays. “Isn’t that crazy and weird?” my Gen X friend remarked. Well, no, not really. Back in the good ol' Nintendo days, kids would routinely gather at each other's houses (after playing stickball on the street, of course) and do exactly that — watch with saliva dripping from their mouths as friends discovered the princess in Super Mario Bros. 3.
These young folks today were born with a silver spoon in their mouths, weren't they? Yeah, not so fast — millennials are actually less wealthy, less indebted and less employed than previous generations. Baby boomers are far more entitled, some say, and showed it by doing things like enjoying low energy costs for so many years without thinking about how their carbon footprint would affect future generations.
Throwing stones at millennials isn't as much fun when you realize how much they actually have their act together.
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