Backwards baseball cap? Ear buds? A cell phone? Lying around doing nothing? Clearly, these are Millennials!
It’s not easy being an opinion columnist.
I did it for a year at the Oregon Daily Emerald - I signed up because I was under the impression that I could do the same shit that I do here (long form, tangential comedic essays that aren’t necessarily opinionated) in a college paper format as a means to draw more readers to the blog.
What I found out many megabytes of hatemail later was 1) The reason thousands of people don’t read my blog might have less to do with poor promotion and more to do with the fact that a lot of people seem to think my writing style makes me sound like a douche, and 2) It is really hard to have a new strong opinion about something important every week.
My solution to that problem was to write shitty columns about topics I didn’t understand or care about just so I could meet my deadline; nationally syndicated columnists’ solution is to talk shit about people in my age group. Sure, my journalism wasn’t good by any stretch of the imagination, but I also didn’t write off 50 million people as stupid, lazy slobs.
I hate the word ‘Millennial’ – a name better suited to a mid sized four door sedan than to my entire age group – almost as much as I hate the word ‘generation’, except when immediately preceded by the words Star Trek: The Next. It seems there’s a cottage industry of psychologists and sociologists whose sole occupation is to come up with trendy names for people born between certain dates (The Silent Generation, The Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X) and then make assumptions about those peoples’ personalities. This work is apparently key to maintaining our civilization, because it seems like every week I’m reading a new article about how Millennials are lazy, spoiled, emotionally stunted brats.
And it’s bullshit.
I’m not here to defend my generation. I will freely admit that there are loads of entitled, self absorbed doucheburgers in my age group. That said, I think there are loads of entitled, self absorbed doucheburgers in every age group, and trying to determine which age group has more doucheburgers is a fruitless, speculative waste of time that ultimately serves no purpose.
Nobody’s going to publish a study saying that people with darker colored skin are criminals or Jewish people are greedy, because it’s wrong, inaccurate, and dickish to make assumptions about peoples’ personalities based on factors they can’t control. But somehow it’s okay to assume that people born between 1982 and 2001 will be self involved and out of touch to the point of unemployability?
I was born in 1988. I don’t have one hell of a lot in common with people who were born in 1982, and I have even less in common with people who were born in 2001. Millennials from the 90s have had the Internet for their entire lives. Millennials from the early 80s remember watching the Berlin Wall come down. To try and make assumptions about all of us, in spite of these and a billion more differences on top of our own individual upbringing, is like trying to estimate how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Trying to suggest that we’re all the same because we’re ‘tech savvy’ in an age when three quarters of a billion people are on Facebook is like saying Rahm Emanuel and Carrot Top are the same person because they both have eyebrows.
And when it’s all said and done, what do we stand to gain from these assumptions that we’ve made about a given generation? Do we pass out medals to surviving members of the Greatest Generation for being alive during World War 2? Put all Baby Boomers on trial for jumping behind Reaganomics? Personally administer a spanking to every Millennial in America to make up for their parents’ coddling?
No. We just read what’s been written and add it to the list of factually dubious preconceived notions we’ve got about people based on how many wrinkles they have. These researchers could better serve humanity by working at 7-11, because then at least they’d be facilitating the delivery of taquitos to the masses.
I think what best proves my point about the worthlessness of these studies is the following comment by Ruben Navarette, who is presumably a CNN diversity hire from when they realized there weren’t enough stupid people on the payroll. In the column he wrote that inspired this blog, he had this criticism about Millennials:
[They] put family and friends before work and career…
…Millennials are in no rush to start the rat race, because they work to live and not the other way around. They saw their parents get laid off or trudge to jobs they hated. They're determined to be different.
Yes, apparently valuing our loved ones more than our jobs and wanting to earn a living doing something we actually like is a bad thing. What Ruben Navarrette is saying is that if you follow your dreams, you’re an entitled brat – you should work the first boring, dead end job you get offered no matter how miserable it makes you, because it’s wrong to not do the exact same thing your parents did.
If it’s entitled for me to have high self esteem and to want the best for myself, and to be willing to hold out for what I want to do instead of sacrificing my happiness to play it safe, then fuck it – I’ll be entitled. Being entitled was what led me to quit my job as an opinion columnist: I was ill qualified for the job and it made me miserable, so I decided that my happiness was more important than my paychecks and quit writing shitty opinion columns.
Follow my lead, Mr. Navarrette. Be entitled.
Truman Capps hopes that none of his token ‘old’ readers took this as a slight.