I find myself in quite the conundrum, a real Catch 22 if I recall the Spark Notes of Heller’s famous novel correctly. My desire is to write about millennials, the infamous generation of people with birthdates between 1980 and 2000. I could take the classic approach and yammer on about how “Generation Me” is ruining America, destroying family values and not getting off my lawn. You know, the baby boomer approach. If I write like that, I all but guarantee an alienation of the majority of my audience—millennials. Then again, there’s a reason that approach is so classical (hint hint). I could write instead from the perspective of pro-millennial, which makes more sense given my age bias, personal opinion and tendency to frolic in old people’s front yards. However, taking such a position ensures that the minority, albeit significant, audience of baby boomers and Generation X will shake their heads, mutter a stinging insult like “whippersnappers” under their breath and then call for their niece or nephew to come exit out of the page, and I certainly wouldn’t want that. Instead, why don’t I start with a collection of information some Americans enjoy and others tend to shy away from: facts.
Admittedly, millennials are guilty of several, statistically supported, characteristics that warrant our being branded “Generation Me.” The National Institute of Health said that narcissistic personality disorder is three times as likely to occur in millennials than generations older than age 60. Coupling this, a comparison of two studies showed 58 percent more college students scored higher on a narcissism scale in 2009 than in 1982. Millennials makeup the greatest number of users on social media, although this statistic is not surprising given the technological wave we’ve ridden since the new millennium. We are the selfish generation, the self-absorbed population, the epitome of egotism. Apparently. Entitlement is our boldest trait and we display it proudly, strutting through life as though it were ours for the taking. Twenty-two years old, fresh out of college with a business degree in hand? I won’t take anything below upper management, and when rejected, I will complain about the crippling economy all the way back to my parents’ house. I’ll remain there collecting food stamps and unemployment until my pompous ass is spanked with reality and I accept a minimum wage job selling coupons and spinning an arrow sign on the intersection corner (two mattresses for the price of one!) It could be worse though; I could be a member of the ignorant, asinine baby boomers or Generation X. Yes, you have stable lives with steady incomes and a great 401k (what is that again?). You’re still ignorant and still asinine.
There’s been great debate on climate change and global warming for quite some time. One could say millennials grew up listening to this debate, and are now involved in it, or should be considering we stand to suffer the consequences while older generations avoid them, sound asleep six feet under. Despite the dozens of national institutions that have stated the alarming increase of global warming is caused by human activity, and the overwhelming evidence published by these institutions supporting their claim, the debate continues. Recently, it seems to have taken a turn for the worst with President Trump, a baby boomer himself, dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and his belief that global warming is nothing more than a construct of the Chinese government. NASA, the amazing organization consisting of the most brilliant minds from around the world, responsible for some of the greatest human achievements in history, are scoffed at when presenting irrefutable data on global warming. The majority who do the scoffing? Sorry, geezers, this one is you. According to a 2015 poll by the Pew Research Center, 50 percent of people aged 50-64 think global warming is due to natural causes or isn’t occurring at all (no evidence). The numbers get worse, and ignorance greater, as age goes up, with 67 percent of people 65+ thinking the same. Compare this to just 35 percent of millennials who think so and you see why I was bold in my insults. It may have been a bit rude but global warming proves a serious concern for MY future, so I think my frustration with the ignorant is understandable. Perhaps one topic, however significant it may be, isn’t enough to label an entire generation or two the way I did. No matter, I have plenty to choose from.
On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court made history by ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that state-level bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. It proved a celebratory conclusion to decades of a passionate political and social movement that millions endured in pursuit of equality under the law. The Pew Research Center (got to love ‘em huh, baby boomers?) found in their 2016 poll that more than half the general public support gay marriage in America. Dividing it up by age makes things a bit more interesting. Millennials, to no surprise, are at nearly 75 percent supporting; they are the generation of overwhelming support for liberal ideologies, in which gay rights falls dead center. The silent generation, aka people currently coffin-shopping, makeup the least supportive at 38 percent and edging them at 46 percent are baby boomers. Despite being the generation that grew up in the face of people overcoming adversity (Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam protests) it seems supporting people’s freedom in marriage, something that has no effect on outside individuals, is not right in the mind of baby boomers. Who’s being selfish now?
Examples, insults and edgy hypothetical questions aside, we have to live with one another (some for longer than others). Unlike the Democrat and Republican parties, we as people should not polarize ourselves because of generational differences. Sure, we take more selfies, spend more time behind a screen and don’t say “sir” or “ma’am” as often. But we do a lot of great things, or at least we will if given the chance. The same way you all worked hard and made something for yourself, so will we. Our methods may differ, our approach may be alien to you, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t trying. At the end of it all, we need one another, and none of us, baby boomer, Generation X or millennial, will make it without support from the others. So how about this: I show you this exciting new thing called Twitter and you tell me what in the hell a 401k is?