A Millennial Blog for All

Posts tagged ‘Baby Boomers’

Arrested Development: The Millennial Story

We have yet another article on the near disaster that is the Millennial economy, written adroitly by Derek Thompson. You can read it here, and I suggest that you do:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/the-unluckiest-generation-what-will-become-of-millennials/275336/

We’re putting it all off, folks. Marriage, kids, mortgages. All the things that were supposedly ‘The American Dream’ before now makes our skin crawl. Or, to be more egalitarian, it’s makes us nervous. Not because we hate these things, but because we are absolutely not ready for them. We don’t have enough money. We don’t have any satisfaction in our careers, should we be lucky enough to have one. (As you can likely tell from this blog and this post, I don’t have much of either.)

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A lot of us live with our parents. To quote Mr. Thompson, we are looked at as “Perma-Children,” and he makes the case for prolonged pessimism. He is correct that entertainment and other commodities have been greatly cheapened by the internet, but truthfully, who cares? It’s nice, but a good, independent, quality of life is nicer.

We are the unluckiest generation, economically speaking. We came into a workforce after the burst of the economic bubble that, in hindsight, was amazing in the sense that so few people saw it coming. Everything was either artificially too low or too high, and one day, it wouldn’t be able to maintain itself. The day has come and gone, and here we are.  

It’s the same narrative everywhere we go. Millennials are: The most educated generation. The least paid generation. We whine. We complain. We had great childhoods and our expectations were too high.

Valid points all. But no comfort is to be found. We are in the midst of a recovery, but it’s slow and anemic and one can’t help but feel as though the bottom could fall out from it at any moment. It’s tiresome.

We aren’t going to have as good as the Baby Boomers and Generation X. We know. We get. We won’t be able to make up the ratio of wealth. Perhaps it’s because the world is changing so rapidly that even we’re running to catch up.

There is, of course, optimism, but realism tends to get in the way.

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How To Be a Millennial Without Being a Douche

Every generation has stereotypes about them that follow them wherever they go. Baby Boomers are spoiled and obtuse. Generation X is cynical and contrarian. We Millennials, and you’ve heard this in the news and online, are selfish and entitled, amongst other things. Like all stereotypes, they have a basis in reality, even if that reality is ephemeral or tritely stated.

Regardless, it is incumbent upon us to not fall into the patterns of stereotypes.

Here a few ways to confound and delight people who are not members of our generation. And yes, I am aware that this means changing your very nature, at least on the surface. And I’m also aware that this sounds pretentious. In any event, try them sparingly:

Slow down. Non-Millennials aren’t going to be able to keep up with our flittering attention spans. We’re a multi-tasking generation, and on the flip side, we are unable to keep our attentions focused on one thing for a prolonged period of time. It’s a positive development in the sense that we need to do this in order to keep up with the rest of the world, but it’s a negative one when concentration is required on something for more than a short while. Attempt to focus on something, anything. Meditate. Learn an instrument. Both will make you more interesting, too. Additionally, when explaining Foursquare and Instagram and Twitter to Octogenarians, don’t get exasperated; this is an entirely other world to them. Even the words themselves (Twitter primarily) are some type of joke to them. And honestly, can you blame them for laughing?

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Don’t be cocky. Cockiness, while undesirable, is understandable if you’ve done something impressive. Graduating from college is not impressive. Congratulations, you’re now one of hundreds of millions. It depends on how you fill your time after graduation day that will matter.

Don’t humble-brag. It’s the worst thing anyone can do, let alone a Millennial. For example, don’t say, “I’m so grateful that I went to grad school and didn’t have to straight into the work force” to a group of janitors. Don’t talk about your trips to Italy, Indonesia, or India, to a 23-year old single mother of three. I should write an entire column on humble-bragging later. Be humble, and not just fake humble. If you’re twenty, guess what, you don’t have all of life’s answers. Even if you make it to 100, you won’t have all of life’s answers. Relax.

Don’t whine. Millennials are known as whiners. Stop feeding the perception that we’re pampered and entitled. If you’re going to complain, at least make it constructive. And being constructive depends on the situation at hand.

Don’t concentrate so hard on being unique. It’s the most conformist thing you can do. Concentrate on being the best version of yourself. Always strive to be what you are, not what you think you ought to be. Be happy, but not at the expense of others, including your long-term self.

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Work hard. This is probably the broadest of the shibboleths I’m proposing, but seriously. How many times have you heard an employer say: “These young people just don’t want to work!” Or, “They’d rather just sit around and play on their phones than earn a paycheck!” I’m ad-libbing those lines, but the point is valid. I’ve known plenty of people my age who show up for a paycheck and that’s it. Show your employer that you’re not spoiled and entitled, and watch the surprise!

Plan ahead. This is one I struggle with most myself. Not just what you’re going to eat tonight, but how you’re going to eat in the future. Not just when you’re going to work, but what career you want as well. Set short- and long-term goals, and you’ll be surprised how much you find out about yourself.

Exercise good judgment. This is the very hardest thing to do, and this is something not strictly related to being a Millennial. Good judgment is something that is absolutely formulated in your twenties. It’s the difference between Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill; James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln. The only way to get better at it is to practice it, whenever possible. Say that its 10PM, and you have to get up early for work. Do you have a coffee with a shot of espresso? Or do you try to sleep now, even if you’re not really tired? Start exercising good judgment now.

A Response to Generation Screwed

A fascinating article was recently penned by Joel Kotkin for the Daily Beast the other day, called Generation Screwed. You can read it here:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/07/15/are-millennials-the-screwed-generation.html

His take is backed by sound numbers and good analysis. Those numbers and analyses suggest that the game is rigged against the Millennial generation by the Baby Boomers and Generation X. But not out of hubris or malice, but out of fear and stupidity.

The previous generations have taken what they could from what was offered without fear of the well running dry. Now, the well is running dry. Boomers aren’t retiring as early not, because all of a sudden, the money isn’t there to move to Boca Raton. And considering the palpable desperation frothing from the masses of 18-29 year olds looking for gainful employment, companies that are looking to hire new workers are low-balling Millennials

The Millennial reputation, oftentimes well earned, is that we are whiners, and who strut about with undeserved sense of accomplishment. Working with Millennials in a professional environment can be extraordinarily frustrating.

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In Ron Alsop’s The Trophy Kids Grow Up, he discusses the unusual precedents that our generation sets up for the workplace. We don’t like dressing up for work, and we don’t like our personalities infringed upon or stultified. We want flexible schedules, steady pay-raises, and a clear path up the corporate ladder. This rubs many in the business world the wrong way, and this is perhaps why many major companies are uncomfortable hiring us. But it’s a feeling they steadily have to get comfortable with. We are unavoidable, considering there are 90 million of us swarming the work force in segments, year after year.

There need to be new and clever ideas if we are to have it anywhere near as good as the previous generations have. There is a serious debate going on in Washington DC, and indeed, all over the world, on how to ensure that the wealth of nations does not dissipate taking care of generations who have grown used to spending without paying much back. We need to impose responsibility on those in power, and take that power away from those who refuse to be responsible.

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