By Sarah Harris
I am a millennial…
Bad news for those of you who were born in the years ranging 1980 to 2000, you are too.
You are part of the jilted generation: a generation supposedly destined to never own a house, find a stable job, or earn disposable income. A generation which are being denied their own voices and opinions. Many still swear by the old mantra “with age comes wisdom”, but how much significance can this still hold?
We’re often known as the ‘Peter Pan’ generation because of our tendency to delay milestones in our lives. It is alleged that we are also narcissistic and tend to have a greater sense of entitlement. In China, we are known as “ken lao zu”, or, “the generation that eats the old”. In Japan we are “nagara-zoku”, or, “the people who are always doing two things at once”. How about “Generation Maybe”? That’s how we are known in Germany because of our inability to make definitive decisions as we have too many possibilities available to us. It’s easy to see that when the term ‘millennial’ is used, it’s not generally as a compliment.
In school there were awards for perfect attendance (more a badge of shame than honour) and I even once won an award in PE for most-improved (code for worst player, but brings her kit each week). Was I coddled? Maybe. Did my parents tell me to dream big and that they’d support whatever decision I made? Absolutely. But when I speak to other generations, the accusations of over-indulgence and debauchery seem to contain hints of jealousy. Children are raised differently in each generation, it’s a constant evolution. The supposed mollycoddling comes from parents wanting their children to have a better life but, for those dealt a meaner hand that can breed resentment.
It is very easy to dismiss the millennials. We have been spoon fed from an early age, with the internet at our fingertips everywhere we go. It isn’t surprising, then, that we often find ourselves excluded from political spheres. Many millennials express a sentiment that none of the main political parties represent their views. With rising tuition fees, an inaccessible housing market and an education system in need of radical reform, it is easy enough to see why many young people feel disillusioned by the politics. Our intellectual and political views are often dismissed by those who unfalteringly believe that with age comes wisdom. We have higher rates of higher education, at least in the UK, but our ideas are often still dismissed by the more traditional standpoint.
Our mediums of communication are changing. We generally prefer Facebook to radio, smartphones to broadsheets, and text message to a letter. We enjoy dismantling the idea that older is better. The ability to easily access a vast wide sea of information makes us one of the best educated generations to date. The millennials may be considered to be narcissistic but they are also credited with often being more tolerant than their elders. Take the selfie for example, the omnipresent form of portraiture that is apparently a sign of our culture’s mass narcissism rather than a show of self-confidence that is apparently, not okay. Open-mindedness, awareness and compassion are a few of the positive qualities to which much our generation can lay claim.
Times change and people change. The world isn’t the same as it was 50 years ago, and us as millennials have adjusted accordingly. As the great Mark Twain once remarked, “all generalisations are wrong, including this one.” We’re still finding our way in this world, and sure, we’re bound to make mistakes. But just as those generations before us, we’ll live and learn, and I for one am proud to be a millennial.