I’m dead tired of millennial jokes and millennial bashing. Not only are the jibes far from true in my experience, but most of the differences between generations seem far more developmental than generational. Even then, there’s not a hard difference. (Want me to tally up the ways my Gen X parents are more millennial than me?) The fact that older generations have been denigrating newer generations for millennia suggests that the problem is unlikely millennial.
Narcissism isn’t a millennial disease. I assure you, if any generation in the past had had the capacity to document their lives so publicly, they would have done so—and they did their best, through patronage of the arts that immortalized their images in bronze, marble, portraiture, and eventually photography, at great personal expense.
Anti-social behavior isn’t a millennial disease. We have always sought solitude from the crowd in the midst of a crowd. Before smartphones and laptops, my anti-social drug of choice was books.
And I have always found it the height of ignorance when the generations that raised the generations they’re insulting don’t apply their biting commentary on themselves. We were kids, damn it, and we didn’t appreciate the participation trophies. The only awards I’ve ever kept are the ones that actually represented achievement. Believe me, when I got my fifth-place ribbon, I knew it meant I had lost the race.
If you think we’re too sensitive, congratulations, you taught us to feel empathy. Just because you can’t tap into it yourselves doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Not that the irony is lost on me when people become frothing madmen in the name of combating oversensitivity. Forgive me for caring about the feelings of others. I’ll work a little harder on that bitter, detached disillusion I’ve been developing.
I’m not even going to get into the basement-dwelling and laziness stereotypes. Better writers than me have arranged pixels on how millennials were deftly maneuvered into a financial pit of vipers via student loans and cost of living outstripping salary increases, plus a dearth of entry-level and mid-level jobs for the skill sets we were encouraged to take by advisors who had grown up in a very different world—plus the continued devaluation of the service positions that are available. Side hustles, pyramid schemes, leaning in, multiple streams of income, despair that sends us spiraling into fictional worlds… these are symptoms of the underemployment disease, not solutions.
It’s not that I lack a sense of humor. (Oh, believe me, the idea that I lack sense of humor is patently ridiculous—ask anyone who has witnessed one of my laughing fits.) I am more than willing to laugh at myself. But your jokes illuminate neither truth nor absurdity within any sort of jester’s legacy.
In short, it’s that the jokes just aren’t funny.