and other ramblings

The problem with millennials

There is no problem. The term and the dialog are symptomatic of the human experience. Labels and stereotypes are what we do best.

In popular culture the term millennials is a new label for a dated trope. In the scientific literature, which is so happily referenced but not actually analyzed, the term has only the narrowest of definitions at best. It is derived from limited research in experimental psychology which has little to no grounding in sociological or anthropological discussions and largely comes from WEIRD research. The term most commonly refers to the college educated or college bound, wealthy, technologically versed segment of Western/European culture. So it’s a pretty narrow group.

A 2010 paper titled, “Millennials at Work: What We Know and What We Need to Do (If Anything)” elaborates on the “problem.”

There are a lot of opinions about who Millennials are, what they think and value, and how they will behave as they grow older and gain more experience in the workforce. The relatively sparse empirical research published on Millennials is confusing at best and contradictory at worst.

But the story, the trope, still has legs. Evidence be damned. Every generation thinks their parents are stupid and don’t understand. Every generation thinks their children are stupid and don’t understand. Every person to some degree believes the conceit that their experiences, and the perspective or meaning they’ve derived from them are the truest knowledge.

And that’s the problem, we’re all too damn human.

As a teenager I joked about writing a book later in life titled, “The Life of a Paragon.” Which is what you’d expect of a millennial, the belief that you’re “a model of excellence or perfection […] a peerless example” or “an unflawed diamond.” In my mind it was a sarcastic commentary but contained a shed of truth.

As a child I had the unfortunate experience of being torn from a reality where god was angry and spiteful, to another reality where people were angry and spiteful. When my parent’s separated I was torn between people with divergent perspectives on reality and told by both that the others was completely wrong.

From those childhood experiences I gained both a distrust and a curiosity of peoples perspectives of reality. The answer to the human condition is to not only tell our stories, but to listen to others’ stories.

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