My Monday morning puttering around the kitchen was interrupted by a blunt statement from the radio.
Correspondent Selena Simmons-Duffin was launching a report about how millennials are shaping the world, and she said, "There are more millennials in America right now than baby boomers — more than 80 million of us. And I'm gonna go ahead and guess that if you're not a millennial, you kind of hate us."
It would be disingenuous of me to claim to be utterly surprised by her statement. You have to be pretty tuned out to miss the griping about millennials and their gadgets and entitlement and perceived narcissistic demeanor. I read Joel Stein's "Me, Me, Me Generation" story in Time and watched the millennial T-shirt video.
There are valid points in some of these discussions, but also a lot of broad generalization and generational snobbery.
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And really, that should be familiar to all of us, because when every generation gets into its 30s and 40s, they start griping about "these kids these days." The greatest generation complained about the baby boomers, the baby boomers complained about Generation X — for the record, I think my generation had the coolest name — and now Gen X likes to complain about those selfie-taking, like-chasing, mom-and-dad's basement dwelling millennials.
Whenever you start to complain about an entire generation saying that they are not as good as your peers, you need to check yourself, immediately.
Every generation is different. Every generation has its good points and bad points.
And frankly, I really love a lot of the millennials' good points. Technologically, socially and politically they are having a tremendous impact on the world we live in for the better, the biggest since — hate to break it to some of you haters — the baby boomers.
A lot of the change is technological. We live in a startlingly different tech world from the one we entered this century with, when we did not know what smart phones were and to get online, your computer had to be plugged into the wall. Yes, a lot of the newest innovations were created by boomers (Steve Jobs) and Gen Xers, but it is the millennials that embrace and build on them.
As Simmons-Duffin pointed out, millennials invented social media. Yes, there were attempts before confirmed millennial Mark Zuckerberg, but he made it work with Facebook, still the runaway No. 1 social media platform.
There are a lot of complaints in traditional media industries such as record labels and movie studios about new viewing habits. But millennials are a generation that are dropping labels and consuming media in fascinating mixes, thanks to new platforms such as Netflix and Spotify — to name two.
And — I really hate to say this — while traditional media outlets struggle to find their place in the wireless world, millennials are out there building new platforms and making them work. There are bugs, to be sure, and I personally hope that with growing outlets there is growing discernment about whom to trust.
One of the classic raps is a "failure to launch" generation that still lives with mom and dad and delays marriage and full-time employment. That's kind of rich considering previous generations kind of set the stage for some of this by creating a lousy economy for millennials to graduate into. (Get a job! Oh, wait. We just lay people off.)
Again though, this is also a generation thinking outside of traditional constraints and finding new ways to work and make money, creativity becoming a more and more valuable economy.
But maybe, Selena, where I love the millennials the most is the growing social change. Certainly, this has been at work for generations. But it is the millennials I talk to who have the least patience for bigotry, be it toward race, religion, sexual orientation or disabilities. Things that would have been unthinkable when my generation was "those kids," like gay marriage, are quickly becoming the law of the land.
Change is still a struggle and far from global. But we are progressively getting closer to the ideals our founding fathers espoused.
Millennials are far from a perfect generation, and certainly there are anecdotes to challenge everything in here, as there are with all broad generalizations.
But far from hating millennials, Selena, I kind of love watching the world they are creating.