Hi. My name is Emily and I’m a millennial. You’re probably already thinking, “Oh great. Another millennial complaining about how hard it is to be a millennial.” And you’re right. That is exactly what my column is about.
Millennials are under intense scrutiny by the media, the government and our elder generations. And we are both a source of fascination and malign to the generations older than us. The New York Times, which has written a number of articles dissecting every millennial trait, will happily sum up these sentiments in one fell swoop: “You know them when you see them. They are tapping on their smartphones, strolling into work late and amassing Instagram followers faster than a twerking cat. They complain. They ‘disrupt’ stuff. They simultaneously (and somewhat improbably) like both Kanye West and Kenny Chesney.”
I don’t think it would bother me as much if I didn’t hear such ugly word-associations such as ‘entitled’, ‘self-centered’, or ‘lazy.’ The argument thrown out there about how all millennials are expecting a participation trophy for just showing up is inane. I have never expected anyone to just ‘give’ me anything, let alone a trophy. I’ve always worked hard for what I’ve gotten, and I know where I’m headed and what I’m doing. As for the participation trophy, my generation didn’t invent that. And we certainly did not give them to ourselves. That blame falls on you, our lovely parents.
Millennials are said to be entitled, and believe that we deserve to be at the top of the totem pole. I honestly do not know a single person my age who is like that. The only dream I have right now, and ever will have, is to have a steady job in my career field, to have minimal student debt, to work towards owning my own home and to have a support system of family and friends. Today’s economy isn’t great for anyone, and that is especially true for my generation.
Imagine going to college during a time where a year’s tuition surpasses the median household income for the entire year. And even though mortgage rates on houses have gone consistently lower, I can’t imagine ever finding or saving up the money to make a down payment. Millennial college students are weighed down by the rising cost of tuition and fees, in addition to paying rent on an apartment that they will never own.
Besides, if we’re not teaching millennials how to ‘adult,’ how will they ever learn? High schools across the nation are heading more and more away from home education and more towards college-preparatory classes. At the age of 21, I ordered my first checkbook, but I have yet to write out a check. I have finally gotten in the habit of getting regular oil changes and I’m actually remembering where businesses are and not having to use my GPS when I drive around Toledo. I’m still learning how to ‘adult’ and I celebrate the regular adult activities, like setting up my own doctor appointments. Becoming an adult is a learning experience, and we love sharing our failures and successes on social media.
Anyone who says millennials are self-centered has obviously never spent time around a college campus. I can’t walk 10 feet at UT without hearing about a cause for autism or politics or the environment. My generation, and just like every single one before us, has so many people that are passionate about things they care about. The methods we use may seem different, but you can’t argue that they don’t produce results. Creating a social media campaign gets the word out all across the world in a matter of minutes.
The overused argument about the use of technology amongst my generation is irrelevant; truly unrelated. I do concede to spending a lot of time across a variety of platforms. But, I carry many of the same friends across those platforms and use those interactions to better my skills. I’m building a career from my social media skills. I also read the news, pop culture and not, from those platforms. If you don’t use social media on a regular basis, you are missing out. For those saying “all millennials do is tap on their smartphones”, I have some news for you: 83% of adults ages 30-49 own a smartphone and 74% of online adults have a Facebook account. One of my hometown neighbors is 95 years old. She is on Facebook and when I email her, she responds right back from her iPad.Also about taking selfies and photos, I use my selfies and
Also about taking selfies and photos, I use my selfies and snapchats to friends as a form of communication, and also to create confidence in my physical appearance. Smiling is scientifically proven to make you feel happier. If we’re using a camera to smile more, who can complain about a generation of happier people?
Putting a label on a generation is problematic, but that doesn’t stop people from doing it. (I’m looking at you, Baby Boomers.) Talking about the characteristics of a generation without taking into consideration the challenges they face is idiotic. Millennials just want the same things anyone else does: To have the opportunity to be ourselves and not be constantly ridiculed by the unfounded perception of our generation.
In the end, I can’t speak for everyone, but I did make it to work and school on time this morning. The number of people following me on Twitter is laughable and I think my Instagram photos each average about 20 likes. And okay: I do complain often and I really could not give two hoots about Kanye West or Kenny Chesney — respectfully, of course. I’m more of Nicki Minaj and Kacey Musgraves fan.
Millennials are just people: People who were raised by the generations before us. Let’s just let people be people.
Emily Schnipke is the IC’s managing editor and she is a junior majoring in communication with a minor in English.