Here’s What Older Generations Don’t Understand About Millennials

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Millennial Collage

Millennials are defined by Strauss and Howe (Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation) as those born between 1982 and 2004. There’s something separatist sounding about the name itself, and millennials seem a little bit misunderstood. Here are some common criticisms that have been leveled at millennials, and what the real situation is.

“They Are Self Absorbed”

Yes, they might be a little too fond of selfies, and are always to be found in group photos, hugging, laughing and smiling at each other. They appear to be happy within their own tribe. Unlike some previous generations, millennials actually like each other, and themselves. They weren’t raised in an era of self-deprivation or self-blame, and so it’s true that they do feel more satisfied with themselves. Other generations may have been self-absorbed, like the Yuppies, but the Yuppies lived in an age of economic success, whereas it can feel a little hard to take the happy smiling faces of millennials when the economy is still so low. Chances are, if everyone was happy, no would mind the smiling faces of millennials on social media.

“They Don’t Respect Privacy”

The millennials have been charged with not respecting privacy, especially since every conversation online is like a group chat. They post private pictures and share everything about their private lives. But that’s partly because they embrace the group input, and feel that every opinion matters. If there was ever a generation that believes in “the more the merrier,” it’s millennials. They basically invented the concept of the “crowd.” Since they like each other so much, they figured out early on that many hands (and heads) make light work. Now we have a whole host of companies dedicated to taking advantage of many sources of thought, skill and labor from around the globe. We have crowd funding, crowd tasking and crowd ideas that are used to create cohesive wholes. If you really, really like to work in groups, the millennials have a spot for you.

“They Are Addicted to Their Devices”

Millennials were brought up with devices. Unlike previous generations, it’s all they’ve ever known. For them, it’s only natural to use the technology that’s available in order to make life more social and to make work easier. As a result, millennials are extremely attached to their devices. So attached, in fact, that they’ve practically demanded that they be allowed to use personal devices to conduct their job. Hence the acronym, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Companies who disallow PDs (Personal devices) are considered old school and stiff, and millennials will frequently turn down a job at a company if they detect cobwebs in the executive mindset. Their perceived apathy in the workforce is really just their refusal to work harder when technology can make everything easier and faster. Don’t forget that millennials are the ones actually doing the work right now keeping Microsoft and Apple companies running the technology of the globe.

“They Feel Entitled”

Actually, millennials don’t feel they are entitled to anything in the future. They don’t envision the future the same way that older generations did. Put it this way: Millennials don’t believe that social security will necessarily be around when they retire. They don’t believe that the climate will just “sort itself out to our benefit.” They don’t believe that the governments of the world necessarily have our best interests at heart. Even so, millennials are not afraid to face the future because they know now they can change it. Thanks to Steve Jobs, they know that they really could make a difference in the way future generations live. That’s probably where a lot of their hopefulness comes from. Their sense of entitlement stems from their belief that they have the power to alter the future in a positive way.

Millennials are simply younger people in a changing world. They are trying to navigate their way through life just as older generations did – using the tools, technology and knowledge that is available to them. If the future in the hands of the millennials, we all stand a good chance it will come out alright.

Kate Supino is a freelance writer who enjoys sharing her research and experience with readers everywhere. She lives in sunny South Florida.