Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

______________________________

I have a confession to make.

I’m not quite sure how to say it, so I’ll just come right out with it. I am…. a Millennial.

No, no, no. I’m not THAT skinny-jeans-wearing, avocado-toast-eating, living-at-home, working-at-a-start-up kind of Millennial. But those are all grossly overemphasized stereotypes, anyway. In fact, anytime you see a headline or a study claiming anything about “Millennials,” realize that we are the largest generation numerically since the Baby Boomers.

How do I know this wasn’t set up and taken by a Millennial? Because we all know it only takes one person to look something up on IMDB.

You shouldn’t make broad, sweeping statements about Millennials and then turn around and complain about how we are all unique, special snowflakes. It doesn’t work that way.

And BTW, we never ASKED for participation trophies.

And also BTW, studies show that older generations are on their smartphones and social media at rates nearing that of Millennials and Gen-Z.


But the clothing styles, the use of technology, and the fact that Millennials are waiting longer to “settle down” than previous generations are all easy, visible targets to scapegoat.

The fact is I’m getting pretty tired of seeing the older generations trash the younger generations and place all the blame for their problems on Millennials and teenagers. I keep seeing things like this:

“The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no respect for their parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they alone know everything and what passes for wisdom in us foolishness in them. As for the girls, they are foolish and immodest and unwomanly in speech, behavior, and dress.”

But then I realized that this was actually written by a guy named Peter the Hermit who lived in the 11th Century.

I read this the other day, and it really set me off:

“Our youth have an insatiable desire for wealth; they have bad manners and atrocious customs regarding dressing and their hair and what garments or shoes they wear.”

Oh wait, that was said by Plato in the 5th Century BC.

You want more rantings from older people about the younger generations?

“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love to chatter in place of exercise.” – Socrates, 5th Century BC

“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint.” – Hesiod, 8th Century BC

And how about one more for good measure:

“Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.” – Assyrian Clay Tablet from ~2800 BC

I found these quotes on Ambitious.com from an article titled: The Younger Generation Has Been Ruining The World Since Forever. 

What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

Generational studies fascinate me.

On the one hand, generations are arbitrary markers that we as a society have set in place in order to stereotype entire groups of people based on their dates of birth. The best you can do is speak in generalities. We must remind ourselves that an individual must not be judged on the basis of her/his generational label.

On the other hand, there are very real differences between the generations largely due to major events that happened as each particular generation was coming of age.

With that in mind, it may be helpful to look back over the lifespan of the average Millennial and notice events that have occurred as we were coming of age.

  • Millennials were born into one of the healthiest economies in US history.
  • Most of us were just kids when McVeigh and Nickols attacked the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. I was just 7 years old.
  • We were mostly school age (except for the very youngest Millennials) when 12 students and one teacher were shot and killed at Columbine High School. I was in 5th grade.
  • Just a couple years after that, terrorists highjacked passenger airline planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon – forever ending our illusion of security. I was entering my 8th grade English class when I heard the news.
  • Throughout my high school years, the US was heavily involved in the “War on Terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • In the middle of all this, we got the internet, mp3 players, laptops, cell phones, smartphones, tablets, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, 4G-LTE, FaceTime, and more. When we were kids, we had cassettes and VHS. Now we are streaming everything. Tech has advanced stupidly fast!
  • As we entered college and young adulthood, college tuition costs were soaring as the economy was collapsing, leaving millions of us with massive amounts of student loan debts and no good jobs to look forward to after college.
The Millennial generation came of age during the worst mass shootings in history, the largest attack on American soil in history, the longest war in US history, and the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.
And we are mocked for our hairstyles and clothing choices.
But we get it. Other generations had it rough, too. There was WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War, the Gulf War, etc. Yet somehow the older generations still look back and seem to mourn the loss of “simpler times.” I see a longing to get things back to the way they used to be. There is a nostalgia for the past when America was that “shining city on a hill.”
Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
    For it is not wise to ask such questions. (Ecclesiastes 7:10)

Millennials don’t have the luxury of nostalgia. All we’ve ever known is war and financial insecurity.
Maybe that’s why so many of us are focused on trying to make the world a better place for the future, not just reminiscing about the past. Our past was pretty terrible. And our future looks pretty terrible, too. We are also the first generation in American history who aren’t expected to be as well off financially as our parents’ generation. We want to make the world a better place not for us, but for our kids and grand kids. It’s kinda too late for us. And we’ve accepted that.

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