Opinion: Millennials shouldn’t be shamed

According to a recent study in the UK, many young people don’t identify as millennials, and don’t perceive their Generation Z cohorts in an especially positive light. This mass identity crisis, according to the survey, stems from the enormous stigma that surrounds millennials.

The word “millennial” has come to symbolize an egocentric group of whiny youths, and an entire generation has taken to self-loathing because of the prejudices they face.

This kind of anti-millennial rhetoric is nothing new. You can’t go a day without reading a headline attacking millennials, such as “Avocados are Endangered Because Millennials Buy Too Much Toast.” Shared and liked by baby boomers with a Facebook account, these articles are denigrating an enormous age group with biased editorials, misconstrued studies and unfounded cynicism at their disposal.

My generation has been unfairly accused of causing economic crises and enabling political dysfunction, of bad manners, of stupidity. We’re lazy. Entitled. Narcissistic. We can’t stay off our phones long enough to see the world around us.

Frankly, I’m sick and tired of the bigotry I’ve endured as a member of this generation. Boomers have thrown the term “millennial” in my face more times than I can count, as if I should be ashamed for being one. I have also been personally accused of every single one of the aforementioned social crimes we millennials have supposedly committed.

We’re the bane of society, and baby boomers have become self-anointed vigilantes hellbent on ensuring that we are constantly reminded of our inferiority and incompetence. Their qualifications? They have existed for a longer period of time. Clearly, their elderliness has not bestowed upon them any particularly high levels of social awareness, considering they think it tactful to explain to millennials what a plague they are to everyone else.

This is not intended as a generalization toward all baby boomers. Many non-millennials recognize that we have a lot to offer, and that the accusations made against us are baseless. Instead of basing their opinions of us in prejudice, they base them in fact and reality. They are aware that millennials are the most educated generation. They know that we are buying homes and cars at slower rates than our generational predecessors because of an over saturated job market with little room for advancement for young people, not out of cheapness or laziness. That we have engineered social media as an unprecedented tool of globalization. That Facebook, the very site that is so often used to berate and degrade millennials, was invented by one of us.

The solution to this intergenerational feud is quite simple: acknowledge that prejudices built upon generational divides are, at best, arbitrary and, at worst, bigoted. Ultimately, we’re all just people, and no one is better than anyone else because they are older or younger. Instead of perpetuating this ridiculous notion of superiority, we must remain conscious of the rapidly evolving nature of society, and leave our biases at the door.

“Millennial” is not an insult. It is merely a group of people. People that are no better or worse than the people that came before them. People that innovate, learn, and grow just as their predecessors did. People that are making strides toward a more positive world everyday; strides that the rest of the world should support rather than belittle. I am proud to call myself a millennial; not because I believe we are better than every generation before us, but because I believe that we have the tools, capacity, and drive to create a greater future for ourselves and all the entitled, lazy, narcissistic generations to come.