Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

A blog about words, wordplay, and etymology, with slightly more than occasional political rants.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


It feels like I've been seeing more than the usual amount of editorials about how horrible Millennials are, what with the texting and the emailing and the bringing about of the downfall of western civilization and stuff. Millennials are spoiled and vain and overdependent on their parents and probably behead kittens in their free time. Why, they bring their parents along on job interviews! according to a much-cited but little-scrutinized study.*
I have never understood how anyone with a mind can think it's possible to paint an entire generation with the same broad brush. But let's back up and talk a bit about what folks mean when they say Millennial. A Millennial, depending on who you ask, is a person born between 1980 and 2000. Making my husband indistinguishable from a teenager, apparently (so that's why he keeps refusing to do his chores!). Before Millennials came Generation X (1960s-1980), Baby Boomers (1946-1960s), the Silent Generation (1925-1942), and the Greatest Generation (1900-1925 or so). 
Now, according to a billion op-ed pieces, Millennials are officially The Worst. Sometimes called the selfie generation, these young hooligans are entitled and spoiled, made to think they're special snowflakes by their helicopter parents. The first bit of irony here is that most of these pieces are penned by Boomers and Gen-Xers, the folks who produced and raised these monsters, but apparently bear no responsibility for them. But it gets even less rational from there.
See, over half of our military - you know, the people fighting and dying for our country, are selfish, shallow Millennials. Millennials comprise well more than half our military casualties. Agree with US military actions or not, those impudent children risk their lives for their country every day, which is a hell of a lot more than this aging Gen-Xer has done.
And then there are those dreadful snots at the University of Central Florida who designed a robotic arm using $350 worth of supplies and a 3D printer. And gave it to a six-year-old for free. Proving that they live their entire lives on that blasted Internet, they made the plans available online for free. Now, like mindless sheep, Millennials all over the country are making free prosthetic limbs for kids from their dorm rooms or their parents' basements. Leave it to a generation of freeloaders to give limbs to a bunch of freeloading kids. 
I get that some Millennials really are The Worst, just like some Gen Xers are and some Boomers are and even some of the Greatest Generation are (Bugsy Siegal springs to mind). And the duck face selfies are beyond annoying. And don't even get me started on man buns. Seriously.

I wonder whether folks' disdain for Millennials, like old folks' disdain for young folks since forever, isn't just envy. I mean, I know I'm jealous of those kids, with their working digestive systems and discernible waistlines their dazzling futures. Maybe Boomers trash Millennials' relationships with their folks because it's easier than admitting they should have mended fences with their dads before it was too late, or that they'd give anything in the world just to hear their moms' voices one more time. Maybe Gen Xers hate Millennials because we hate that they aren't drowning in regret over what they could have been and what they'll never be. Maybe the Silent Generation's pissed off because Millennials' toy collections are way cooler than their own collections of mid-century milk glass. Maybe these diatribes are nothing more than really wordy ways to say that youth is wasted on the young. 

*Addecco, a consulting company, released a press release proclaiming this, but have denied requests to share their research methods. The company claims that 3% of Millennials bring their folks into the interview room, but admit the study's margin-of-error is 4%, making the number basically indistinguishable from zero.

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