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A word to adults…

18 August 2010

There is an article in the New York Times Magazine that was published today (“What is it about 20-Somethings?”) that bemoans the Millennials (get it right, people) and our delayed entry into adulthood. I have a few words to say on the topic. (N.B. I am rather annoyed and my reflections are going to sound slightly…well…fired up.)

  1. Yes, most of us are having problems getting jobs and getting into the fields we were educated to be in. But this is not our fault as much as it is that of previous generations. When you all signed NAFTA, we were in elementary school. When the economy tanked, it was because you all wanted to buy even larger houses without being able to afford them. So, get off of our freaking backs already; you’re the reason we’re having the problems we are.
  2. Yes, you think we are too dumb to understand the ways of the world because we are just 20 years old. We think too broadly, too outside-of-the-box and miss reality. Ok, sure. But what if you also think to short-sightedly, and so inside-the-box that you confuse your social constructs and ideologies with reality? You told us to hope for more; and now we are and you hold that against us?
  3. Stop trying to compare us with yourselves. You did not grow up in a world that was connected like we did; you grew up in a world that was extremely suspicious of one another. You did not grow up in a world where a high school education only qualifies you to flip hamburgers. Instead, you have spent the better part of our lives psychoanalyzing us and debating about where we are going and have refused to let us simply be kids, or be college students. And now you refuse to let us be 20-somethings, whatever that means for us. How about letting us live our lives for once?
  4. Yours is also the first generation of so-called “helicopter parents”. You have been soccer moms and dads, school volunteers, Sunday School teachers, PTA chairpeople, and the list goes on and on. Might some of our “stunted growth” be attributed to the fact that you have been hovering over us, or worse, trying to live your childhood again vicariously through us?
  5. Whether or not anyone likes to admit it, we are in a period of huge social change where traditional ways of constructing society are falling apart and being replaced by new ways. Neighborhoods and things associated with them (neighborhood churches, “mom and pop” stores, communal thinking) have been replaced by consumer clusters (mega-churches, big box stores like Wal-Mart, extremist individualism). The fact that we–who are establishing our adult identity right now–are having problems sorting things out is, at least, understandable, and your lack of comprehension is, at least, callous.

Clearly, I am tired of ageism. Why don’t you just let us Millennials be whomever we will turn out to be and get on with your own lives and retirements. After all, because of your draining of Social Security, we won’t ever get to retire.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Valerie permalink
    18 August 2010 20:38

    amen, Burrows!

  2. 22 August 2010 23:57

    You go Patrick! As a 50-something parent of a 20-something daughter, I am glad to read your insights! We may have a rough go of it for a while because of a generation of short-sightedness on the political front, but I’d say you demonstrate that the future is in pretty good hands!

  3. Lee Thomas permalink
    25 August 2010 10:29

    P, I have to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you on most of this: since you’ve adopted the “by the numbers” approach to efficient communication–to my delight–I’ll comment in kind. [And can’t believe that I spelled “millennials” incorrectly!!]

    1) Yeah, a lot of us bought big houses, but sometimes for good reasons: remember that R and I bought ours to take care of a gallant old lady in her last months–one who made unimaginable sacrifices after a very early widowhood to launch her fatherless little boy. And actually, we can afford it; we just can’t quite afford the lifestyle of minor royalty we enjoy! But that’s discretionary, and we’re adjusting it…

    2) RE: ideologies, I’ll loosely paraphrase Bob Carson’s beautiful, heartbreaking open letter to the UNC student body after Eve’s murder: you are the most committed, compassionate, collaborative generation yet seen. I agree with Charles: the future is in good hands.

    3) One dispute: Despite the Cold War, our generation was actually pretty open and friendly. I could ride my bike from end-to-end of our nation’s fourth-largest city in safety and in many friendly interactions, ca. 1961-70. But then, I guess I had a pretty good life. (Though I still complain about it!)

    4) As a youth leader at CotC in 1987, 88 and so forth, I was in on the ground floor of helicopter-parenting. It was weird then–it’s weird now, and your point is well-taken!

    5) No disagreement here, but I wonder if Society changes even faster than the generations change now? Blame it on the IT age? I dunno; surely I’ll see you again someday and we’ll talk about it. Interesting philosophical question, hm?

    Be safe, be happy, be effective, Sparky!

  4. 9 September 2010 09:03

    Don’t know if I told you, but we’re talking about this very topic @ the Library Lunch + Lecture this coming Sunday. Hope you can make it!

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