It’s fair to say that our generation is subjected to a lot of scrutiny and criticism from those older than us. We all know the criticisms I’m talking about… we don’t earn enough money and so we aren’t hard working, but ironically we are also depicted as ‘workaholics’; we choose to study rather than work, branding us as entitled; or we are too concerned with animal welfare and sustainability, making us overly opinionated.
Is there really any truth in this continual shaming of the ‘snowflake’ generation? Or are we just a fun generation to hate?
What the critics fail to take into account is that each generation is shaped by demographics, historic events, and economic forces. So of course, every generation is going to be different to the previous.
This brings into question which generation is correct? Is it the younger generations, that arguably have more information available and have learnt from the mistakes of their elders? Or is it the older with more life experience? Instead of focusing on who is right and who is wrong, I want to centre this blog around tackling the real issue of why the criticisms that we face are not only unfair but also incorrect.
I’m yet to find a criticism that is backed with solid evidence and data, takes into account external factors and demographic change, doesn’t stereotype the entire generation, and doesn’t come from a place of angst and upset.
Much of the criticism is based on limited resources. The truth is that the millennial generation is no different to any generation that came before. In fact, they’re indispensable and will make up more than 50% of the workforce in the years to come.
It’s easy to find statistics on what young adults are currently earning in comparison to someone of the same age in an earlier generation. But they often ignore external factors and demographic change which renders them invalid.
Articles are published quoting stats on the current earnings of millennials without any real insight into the reasons why this may be the case, including the great recession. They are instead used as a criticism on the younger generation and their apparent lack of work ethic and laziness.
Stereotyping is also ripe in the issue of generation snowflake. You only have to type ‘millennials are’ into google to realise how prevalent these stereotypes are. A big blanket criticism is laziness, but older generations don’t recognise that younger generations naturally take a different approach to working, as the nature of work and the workplace has completely changed. Given the demands of today’s high-tech and interconnected workforce, we are actually very hard working and innovative. We also ‘work to live’ rather than ‘live to work’ which is an alien concept to some of our older relations. Does this make us lazy or just smart?
A final point to note is that often criticisms are initiated from a good mindset and perhaps one of regret and jealousy. We are continuously told how lucky we are to have the opportunity for further education. University is sometimes given a bad reputation and can be depicted as an easy option rather than a means to further develop our knowledge and enhance our skills. I know I’ve experienced this exact critique. I often find it difficult to bite my tongue and not lecture them on the sheer intensity and difficulty of a Dentistry degree, but that would only exacerbate their opinion that the snowflake generation is ‘easily offended’.
There seems to be a big misunderstanding between generations. In reality, maybe there always has been, but it does feel our generation has been unfairly given a bad reputation. Who knows – maybe the technological advances that have helped us have also helped spread the ‘snowflake’ generation myth wider than the criticisms faced by generations before us? (See my latest blog on Social Media for my thoughts on fake news!)
But I do think rather than being scrutinised for adopting alternative approaches to work and life, we should be applauded for our intuition and ability to move with the times.
Thanks for reading, now I’m off to get an oat milk decaffeinated latte in my reusable coffee cup before going to my hot yoga class because I’m a millennial and proud!