There have been whispers in the media as of late regarding the lack of presence on the proverbial front lines from this country's largest generation, the Millennials. At over 80 million strong, those of us born after 1982 make up a gigantic chunk of the US population, yet we appear to be the most silent on matters that should be gaining our undivided attention. True, the youth of this nation are not entirely invisible; we have flooded the internet via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like, but we don't appear to be using these outlets as the powerful tools they could be. Tools for what, though? Glad you asked. See, there are a few major problems this country is currently facing (as I'm sure you've noticed), but the answers our national leaders are stumbling upon don't seem to have our best interests in mind. I'll explain:
At this very moment, the older generations are capitalizing on our inexperience. While we are trying to balance our massive college loan debt and higher percentages of unemployment, on top of squeezing in a little bit of fun on our down time, the more established (and vocal) generations are lobbying left and right to secure their spot in Washington's next big plans. It's no surprise that budget cuts and tax increases are fast approaching, but as to what or whom those cuts and taxes will impact remain undecided. Unless Millennials jump in the pool now, we can bank on losing this battle for our future securities. Entering adulthood in the midst of a horrible recession is scary enough, but gaining independence without a solid future to look forward to is down right terrifying.
Hidden beneath all the hustle and bustle, members of the Baby Boomer age have gotten to work painting their children in an oddly negative fashion due to our lack of "stickin' it to the man" behavior (ironic, no?). Nick Gillespie writes for Reason, "By virtually all indications, today’s youth is a whipped puppy whose spirit has been decisively house-broken." As if to imply that his generation's excessive drug use and constant protesting at hippy-fests were some sort of gold standard to look up to. Dr. Keith Ablow claims that our use of social networking sites should be categorized as a form of abusive drug use due to the negative effects these sorts of media are having on our developing brains. Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University has made claims that America's youth is not only assertive, narcissistic, selfish, and entitled, but we're lazy and uninterested in seeing progress towards sustaining the common good for all of mankind. She's gone as far as to conduct a study or two and write a few books to prove her point. Her preaching must have made an impact on SDSU's campus because I've recently come across articles in the school paper, The Daily Aztec, that claim that college kids of today are easily distracted, make for horrible students, and we don't even party correctly because we don't have the same love for rock'n'roll our parents had when they were our age. Worse yet, you can easily find several articles and how-to guides for employers on how to "manage your Millennials" in the workforce, making the assertion that we are a wily, unyielding bunch that must be tamed if our talents are to be of any use to upper management.
Seriously?! Where do I even begin....
Okay. First of all, let's not forget the importance of the learning curve here. While many of us are still trying to pass college level calculus (or even still trying to get into that darn class, noting how impacted our college campuses have become in recent years due to constant budget cuts), our parents' generation has had ample time to secure their careers, purchase a home or other forms of equity, capitalize on their healthcare and 401(k) plans, find loopholes in paying their appropriate amount of taxes, and now how to utilize social security and Medicare benefits for the largest possible returns. I'm not trying be unfair here though, nor am I trying to make them look bad. But to be honest, our nation didn't get into this outrageously deep hole on its own - someone had to dig it. And now, instead of making the tough decisions necessary to fix all the harms that have been created in recent decades, Mom and Dad are choosing the kick the can down the road so someone else can clean up the mess. Good thing all those anti-Millennial naysayers are dead wrong about the sort of personality our generation actually possesses.
Let's make this next point abundantly clear: we do care about our futures, and we're not going down without a fight. After extensive research, Pew Research Center paints Millennials as the following: Not only are we the largest generation born to this country, but we are now the most educated generation ever, achieving ever higher rates of graduation in the high school setting as well as at 2-year and 4-year colleges. We are now the largest voting block in history with the 2012 election exit polls counting more voters under the age of 30 than those over 65 for the first time in history, and as even more of us reach legal age this number will only continue to rise. We volunteer and become more socially involved at higher rates than past generations, and we're starting at younger ages then they did, too. Even better, we continue to have lower rates of teen pregnancies year after year, we maintain the desire to see less conflict between all generations (i.e., we see a smaller generational gap between young people and older adults today), we continue to revolutionize the ways in which business is conducted (and really, all facets of life) through our constant changes in technology use, we are far more tolerant of diversity in our communities than older generations have been in the past, we are instrumental in seeing immigration reform and LGBT rights enacted, we are extremely open to change and readily adapt to our evolving environments, and last but not least, we still trust our government to eventually do the right thing for its citizens. So I must ask, what part of ANY of the above gives cause for Boomers to slander our generation?
If constant striving for achievement, stronger personal relationships, higher levels of education, great tolerance for those different than ourselves, better relationships with our parents, and a strong desire to make a difference in this world can possibly be seen as negative, then fine, have it your way. But we wont stop, no matter how much you put us down. We will keep accepting those minimum wage jobs despite our countless college degrees; we'll keep finding ways to pay our overwhelming amounts of debt; we'll keep donating our time and spare items to charities and volunteer organizations; we'll keep working together despite our vast differences; and most importantly, we'll never stop fighting the good fight. Just remember Mom and Dad - be nice to your kids because we'll be all grown up before you know it.