I feel like I just got over the generation differences between my parents (the rural southern 50s) and mine (1980s Gen-X) and now we have this new phenomena called Millennials. My step-son is one. I work with another. I don’t see the Millennial attitude as much through them but it is apparently there. Youtube is full of videos. Many of them are supporting the $15 an hour movement and the socialist Bernie Sanders. They are the first generation that grew up with the internet as real part of their lives. They are accused of not facing the struggles of the past – the struggles our parent’s faced, the wars our grandparents faced, and the threat of nuclear war we faced (although I don’t really see that as a huge struggle).
Comparing my generation with theirs, I seriously do not see a lot of difference. If we grew up with the internet, I think we would have turned out the same. In fact, I think one of the primary things that has turned Millennials into what they are accused of being, is the internet. Suddenly EVERYONE feels empowered! Everyone feels like their words matter! Look at me, I feel like my words matter because I am writing this blog.
They have so many “Likes” and “Friends”; “Tweets” and “Followers.” Their ego is bloated so much, they feel like the deserve more. This whole controversy over entitled cosplayers and getting expenses paid at conventions – all about entitlement and ego. Her few hundred or even thousand online fans have bloated her ego so much that now she thinks she deserves money for just showing up to a con. Yes, I can imagine cosplaying is expensive, but YOU made the choice to invest your time and money into cosplay. You volunteered to take on that cost. Now provide a measurable service that the market will pay for, and not assume that people will pay your way just cause you have cool costumes. Get over yourself.
My kids have this dream of being a “YouTuber” but at 12, 8 and 4 I know they have no clue what that means. They think just because they found a few people online that made money at it, they can. Well, I am nipping that in the bud before that gets out of hand. Youtube is a blessing and a curse. It is a true free market of ideas but at the same time, it is a dumping ground for otherwise talent-less individuals that out crazy ideas into young minds. Sad and perhaps off topic from my central point…
My generation can be seen as a product of the 50s and 60s. Millennials can be seen as just as much a product of our generation. We invented and proliferated the information age and the internet, they are absorbing it and using it. Gone is the day that only a small percentage of people were selected for the letters to the editor of a newspaper. Now everyone can feel that empowerment and feel like their opinions matter and mean something.
Unfortunately, it worsens the problem that people have about their sense of scale. Just because people have a few hundred likes on their opinions makes them think a majority agree. So now we have minority views and belief systems over-riding majority views and values. I heard a quote back during the Big O’s first election against McCain that illustrates this. Some McCain supporter (older woman) said “I don’t understand how McCain lost, everyone I know voted for him!” This only illustrates how ignorant people are about the scale of the population, their influence on it and the overall size of the electorate. In much of the same way, the internet gives people a sense that EVERYONE THEY KNOW agrees with them, so why doesn’t the country.
Unfortunately, we made this, so we can only blame ourselves. I know several millennials that have a better sense of self while at the same time, there are subtle differences in our outlook. I try to embrace most of those in some way or another, while at the same time they still often make me feel like the old fart. I have literally said “Back in my day….” in conversations with them. I think instead of maligning them, our generation can learn a lot from them while at the same time teach them some of our sensibilities. Let’s more more than the grumpy old farts that used to have mullets and rock-bands logos on the back of our jean jackets!