Some of the most repeated knocks on GenY by the Millennial-bashing experts in media-land are that they’re selfie-posting, social-media-crazed underachievers.
While there’s no solid defense for taking excessive selfies, spreading hateful rhetoric about a generation you don’t understand is about as useful and savvy as selling used toilet paper. (Click here to Tweet this thought.)
Here are three solid reasons why GenY haters are truly, frighteningly, off their rockers:
1. They live in a different reality
If you’re not part of GenY, you didn’t grow up with the highest student debt in history in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Maybe that’s why so many Millennials are living in their parents’ basements, unemployed or underemployed.
Let’s get another thing straight. We didn’t directly contribute to any of the following: the Enron scandal, Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 financial market collapse and housing crisis, the 2010 BP oil spill, the Bernie Madoff scandal, Hurricane Sandy or last year’s government shutdown.
Is it possible any of these factors or the combination of them has led to today’s economic realities? Or is it a result of too many Tweets and Facebook updates?
If you graduated from college and found full-time employment with health insurance and any sort of retirement benefit soon after, you don’t know what it’s like to be a Millennial today. And if your college degree was a determining factor in gaining said employment, you don’t know what it’s like to be a Millennial today.
Before you concoct your next diatribe about how bad GenY is for business, try acknowledging that the reality you knew as a young worker isn’t in the same realm as the joyous, carefree utopia we’re living in today, where making minimum wage full-time can’t get you over the poverty line and entire cities go bankrupt.
2. They fail to recognize GenY’s positive traits
In an article published in Time magazine titled, “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation,” the author cites a study from the National Institutes of Health that found 58 percent more college students scored higher on a narcissism test in 2009 than they did in 1982. Who cares?
GenY cares a lot — about corporate responsibility. A survey by the non-profit Net Impact found that 45 percent of respondents would take a pay cut “for a job that makes a social or environmental impact.” Isn’t caring about what you do to earn a paycheck and wanting to help society more important than the results of a narcissism test?
And let’s clear up the whole work-life balance issue with GenY. The desire for balancing our home and professional lives doesn’t stem from wanting to not work. It’s so we can spend time with the people we love more than our bosses and coworkers.
Maybe this has something to do with previous generations placing so much emphasis on work that marriage was just a precursor to divorce in too many households. Maybe members of GenY want to come home from work at a reasonable hour and have time off to preserve their marriages and foster healthy families. What’s wrong with that?
Furthermore, studies indicate little difference between generational values. A survey by psychologist Jean Twenge of high school seniors taken during 1976 (Baby Boomers), 1991 (Gen Xers), and 2006 (GenYers) tells a compelling story. The results show every generation placed the highest value on intrinsic factors, including interesting work and learning opportunities, and medium emphasis on helping others and society.
That’s an objective survey — one that measures the same values across three different generations, all at the same stage in life.
3. GenY will represent 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025
This one’s simple. If you’re a member of the elite group of Millennial-bashing authors, you’re fighting a losing battle. In just over a decade, we’ll be the bosses at almost every organization, for better or worse.
Surely you know that people don’t work with people they don’t like. Or don’t you know anything about the real world?
If you’ve already published your masterpiece making biased, hasty generalizations about the GenYers you so loathe, best of luck to you in a few years. And if you haven’t written that piece yet, do everyone a favor and don’t… ever.