We keep hearing older people call out millennials for being terrible, saying the ‘M’ word like it’s dirty and spouting myths that just aren’t true. There are lengthy articles, news segments, comedic sketches – even the worshipped Louis CK has dedicated time to bashing our generation, insinuating that we’re the worst youth yet. We’d argue, however, that we’re not so bad and most definitely not the worst.
Here are the main things we hear that are just 100% wrong:
You don’t read enough
Millennials read constantly. Facebook, blogs, the newspaper, magazine subscriptions, memes, Tweets, Kindle books… you name it, we devour it. But if we’re not reading, we’re watching it unfold on YouTube or Snapchat, or listening to a podcast. Older generations immediately jump to this judgment: being on a phone means we’re not learning. Yet the entire world’s knowledge and information are at our fingertips. We’re constantly learning about politics, fashion, the gender of Beyonce’s twins, or Trump’s latest dumb tweet. And while you’re sitting there twiddling your thumbs in the ‘real world’, these are things we need to know. Now.
You don’t socialize
Apparently, millennials are socially awkward. Too busy on smartphones to talk to real people. Ahem… Who do you think we’re talking to? Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are social networks. If anything, you’re talking more. You’re more socially aware and watch what you say more too. Anything remotely offensive or hurtful will be picked up by friends, fans, or future employers – or worse yet, go viral. YouTube broadcasting is as scary as any television broadcasting – your face is literally visible by the entire world. So don’t let the fact we communicate with emojis unnerve you, they’re only little cartoon faces.
You don’t date
Now, this is definitely unquantified. Want a date? I’ll get you one on your lunch hour. Are you into men? Women? Both? Neither? Looking for a friend? Perhaps a dog for the summer? Pass your phone over, and we’ll find you your heart’s desire. The Tinder train shows no signs of slowing and has inspired a slew of dating app copycats: Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble, OkCupid, and The Inner Circle, to name a few. You can even meet them online before you see them in person. Sure, the days of asking someone out in person are numbered, but let’s be real. No one liked doing that anyway. Online dating is where it’s at. It’s not 2005 and you don’t have to be ashamed you met on Match.com anymore.
You will never own a house
Okay, this is a genuine fear that strikes the hearts of most millennials. At least for the ones who aren’t banking on inheritances from their parents. But it’s not necessarily true, unless you live in London or the South East, as the rest of the country has properties that are still relatively affordable. We need to move out of London anyway and find a new creative hub in the UK – like Manchester! Looking into Help To Buy schemes help too. Sure, it’s not as easy as our parents’ generation and we won’t own our first at 22, but we’ll get there. At 32, maybe.
You don’t fight for what you believe in
Protests and parades are impressive. From Gay Pride and the Suffragettes to the Vietnam War and Tiananmen Square, our ancestors certainly knew how to make their voices heard. Many of them were also killed, injured, or imprisoned for what they believed in – and it took a while for their cause to be noticed. Nowadays you can publicise an issue or cause, or even raise money for cancer or a movie online without any risks or fear. You could be Caroline Criado-Perez, who campaigned for Jane Austen to be on the new £10 note, or Veronica Mars fans who really wanted to know if she and Logan eventually worked out. It could be a YouTube comment, or something as simple as a retweet or a Facebook like. As millennials, we make our voices heard.
You’re so vain.
Because we take selfies? Then every generation since time immemorial is proven more vain than the last. Or else there would never be paintings or photographs of anyone, ever. Royal portraits and statues would never have been commissioned by the Kings of Thailand or Emperors of Rome. Why is a self-portrait by Van Gogh a work of art, but a selfie considered narcissism? It’s intrinsic in our self-awareness as human beings to be curious about our appearance – so own it and love it. Document how you look for years to come. Who does it harm?
You’re spoiled and lazy
Because we have phones and eat avocados? Those phones are on contract and that avocado is bought with the hard-earned pennies scraped together from the terrible pay the generation before us is willing to pay for our “internship” or “assistant” job. With entry-level jobs being fought over like The Hunger Games even though we have CVs as tall as we are, and graduate salaries stagnating, millennials can hardly be considered spoiled or lazy.
It seems to be the ‘done thing’ that the previous generation always hates the one coming up behind, but we really don’t feel it’s warranted. Sure, we have the Kardashians and completely frivolous Insta-stories. But we also have more diversity in our media and culture, more discussion about gender and sexuality, and more ways to keep in contact with the world. So if we had a choice between smartphones and ‘loneliness’ now, versus homophobia and the suzerainty of the patriarchy of the previous generations, we know which we would choose.
Words: Mimi Davies