We have all heard about the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers, and of course we cannot forget about Generation X. Somewhere along the way the lines became blurred, though, and now the current generation has a hard time finding where it stands. I am a part of this generation, as I am sure some of my readers are. But who are we? What defines us?
The Greatest Generation were the ones who fought and died in WWII, many of our grandparents or maybe even great grandparents were part of this generation.
After WWII was over, there was a grand rise in the nuclear family. This generation has the sharpest drawn lines to distinguish it from others. The Baby Boom generation was just that, a boom in the births of the babies that grew up to become our parents (or maybe grandparents for some of you). This generation began at the end of the War (1946) and ended around the time the birth control pill was invented (1964).
People born from 1965 to 1984 are apparently those in the infamous Generation X, a generation punctuated by turmoil and uncertainty. Generation Y is apparently no longer a thing, according to what I can find on the all-knowing Google.
Now we come to the generation that contains the children of the Baby Boomers and a lot of Generation Xers as well. The Millenial generation is what they have decided to call those of us born between 1985 and approximately 2000.
I have heard a lot of pretty derogatory things about my generation over the years. I have even heard us called The Worst Generation if you can believe that. I feel like that is a pretty bold claim, since there are likely still plenty of future generations who will be able to give us a run for that distinguished title in the future.
What is it that people hate about us Millenials so much anyway? Personally, I find it a bit insulting to be lumped into a category as though all of us are the same. But I can see where the irritation might come from. Think about it. Millenials were the first generation to grow up medicated for being children. The rise in ADD/ADHD diagnoses started while we were growing up in the early 90s. So many kids I went to school with back then were on Ritolin or Adderal or some other cocktail of medication simply because they were a bit more hyper and found it a bit harder to focus than their peers.
Millenials also, in many cases, grew up in broken homes or without their biological parents. Many were raised by aunts, uncles, grandparents, foster parents, etc and may not have a sense of belonging, even if they themselves do not realize it.
Many were raised without spanking in the home, instead being stuck in a chair in a corner for “time out”. The intentions of those parents were certainly noble, not wanting to hurt their child or not wanting to use what they may have considered “violence” as a means for discipline. However, while the intentions may have been good and righteous, the result is a bunch of people who grew up without really realizing that there are real consequences for actions.
A bunch of adults who believe that if they make a valid enough argument they can be vindicated and get away with whatever they want. A bunch of adults with fragile feelings that come from, I am sorry to say, being raised into special little snowflakes by parents who were just too damn soft to parent.
Now, not all Millenials can be categorized into all of those groups. I was never medicated for behavioral problems as a child. I was spanked for serious transgressions. I was raised by both of my parents in the same home. I am sure there are many Millenials who, like me, look around at our nonspanked, over medicated counterparts and wonder how in the hell this happened.
Regardless of who raised us or how we were disciplined or whether or not we were medicated, all of us grew up as the very first generation where if you played a sport, everyone on every team got a trophy just for playing. That is not how things used to be done, but when we were kids, someone decided that it was uncool to leave the losing teams with hurt egos. This is not a healthy way to do things. Look at us! Just take a good hard look around and see where we have become.
We expect praise and acknowledgement for completing the smallest of tasks, we want to be recognized for our accomplishments even when we have none. We put our every thought and feeling up on social media, hoping for our peers to pat us on the back and give us the validation we cannot get enough of, even if we don’t actually earn it.
Generations before us had causes, social changes that were for the better, and a fire in their belly that Millenials seem to be lacking. Why do we lack that passion?
I think it is because we grew up in a world of increasingly instant gratification. We grew up in front of the TV, we grew up with video games and eventually computers in the home that us kids knew how to work better than our parents did. We saw the rise of the internet, which really pushed the instant gratification trend to its height.
It is really no wonder that many Millenials have no respect for things that past generations have been amazed by. We have seen more technological advancement and change than any generation before us since the Industrial Revolution. We watched as the cassette tape was replaced by the compact disc, then the CD replaced by mp3. We watched VHS be made obsolete by DVD and now we simply stream whatever we want to watch whenever we want to watch it, for the most part.
We watched things come out, top of line brand new and in just a few years become archaic because something much better was made and released. We also grew up pretty much desensitized to sex and violence. That can be blamed on a multitude of things, such as parents of latch key children, video games, movies and TV, which were all driving forces in our childhoods. Before you get all panty twisted about that, you have to admit it.
We grew up watching slasher movies where teenagers went out into the woods to bone each other before getting violently murdered by machete weilding masked maniacs. Or where teenagers were shredded in their dreams by a psycho with knife fingers…usually right after boning occurred. That is a pattern of sex and violence that did affect us, whether all of us want to face that fact or not.
A lot of us also grew up with parents who encouraged us to reach for our dreams, telling us we could grow up to be whatever we wanted to be, and that is great! It is imperative to encourage and nurture your children, after all. But what most of us wanted to be was rich and famous because it was the movie stars and TV stars and rock stars that we all idolized. We quickly learned that it was not so easy to be whatever we wanted to be.
This created a disillusionment in ourselves and in the world around us that was probably avoidable. We became jaded earlier than previous generations did, and it shows. We have no great cause, we are a generation that has been at war pretty much for as long as we can remember. We are a generation with nothing that we think is worth fighting for, a generation of short cuts and compromises.
I know I am using broad generalizations and that these things do not apply to every single person in this generation, but you may find that at least some portion of what I have said in this post pertains to you.
Millenials want to rebel but we just aren’t sure who we want to rebel against. We have created this politically correct culture where no one can say anything for fear that it may offend someone or hurt someone’s feelings or be labelled in some unfavorable way to our peers. Many of us are selfish, disgusting creatures who want our rights respected and acknowledged even while we trample on the rights of someone who disagrees with us.
We are a generation of “mine” and “whatever”, rebels without causes, misguided adult children who are just waiting for prosperity to fall in our laps. We have “triggers” and “social justice” and intolerance masquerading as “tolerance” but no real direction.
We are also still waiting our turn in many ways. The generations before us are still holding onto their seats of power, refusing to hand over the reins so we can have our chance. But with the way many of us turned out, it is a bit frightening to think of what might happen when we finally take the world in our hands and have our shot at it.
Maybe that is just my natural cynicism talking. Maybe Millenials will surprise us all, even ourselves.