I was on Facebook the other day and watched a video posted by a TV personality and radio host named Alexis Bloomer who was basically spelling out everything wrong with our generation (the millennials) and why previous generations are so upset with us. As I watched, my heart sunk a little bit because there was a lot of credit to what she was saying. She spoke about our laziness, our need to be held by the hand by our parents and bosses, the music we listen to that degrades women and glorifies crime and violence, our current celebrity obsession and idolization, our tendency to focus more on our social media relationships than our real life ones, the fact that we express more of our opinions on Facebook than out in the real world, the lack of respect we have for our elders, our misuse of our countless opportunities, etc. The list went on. As she spoke, I could definitely call to mind at least one (usually more) instances in which I’ve personally experienced each of these things being proven true by myself or another millennial. And with that I wondered, is there anything worthy our generation is contributing?
The conclusion I came to was YES. Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that our generation does have flaws, and many of them. But at the same time, I think that we have many redeeming qualities as well. The points that Alexis was making are true, but there are exceptions to every rule, and these are just generalizations. There will be members of every generation that give it a bad name. But no one’s perfect. The majority of us do truly care about the world and want to be positive members of our society. We love our family and friends, we are grateful for our education and we work hard to secure a future for ourselves. We all have bad days though, and sometimes we make poor decisions. We complain about homework, we blast degrading music, we spend the night on social media instead of out in the real world (and I may have just proven that point by mentioning I was on Facebook when I could have been writing a paper). But just because we do make mistakes doesn’t mean that we are completely spoiled and wastes of space.
This past weekend was a fantastic example to me of how my generation is contributing to the “good.” Loras College Dance Marathon #11 raised over $200,000 for the University of Iowa’s Children Hospital, and I was surrounded by moments of pure joy and love throughout the 12 hours I was there. I witnessed firsthand the hard work and sacrifice that my generation is willing to provide for others, and I wish that even more Duhawks had been there to experience it as well. The point is, though, that there are examples of these things taking place all over the world. Pick up a copy of Malala Yousafzai’s book, buy a beanie from Love Your Melon, or take a look around Loras’ campus to see what fundraisers are taking place. There are bright lights in the darkness everywhere, even if they are too often ignored to focus on what’s going wrong.
Millennials are not hopeless spoiled brats. And if you don’t believe me because I’m a millennial myself, I hope you do a little digging to find the countless examples of us out there that are contributing positively to our world. Sure, with the poor choices we make being blasted in social media, it’s impossible to ignore that we do have a lot of room for improvement, and I think that we need to confront this need, even if it’s hard to stomach sometimes, like watching this video. But if we take the criticism with grace and show our abilities to do good rather than just profess that we can do it if we want, I think we still have a chance to reverse the generalizations made about our generation.