In recent times, many negative allegations have been leveled at The Millennial Generation. It seems anyone with free time and freedom of speech has enjoyed listing and analyzing our supposed crimes upon every blog in the land.
“Wanted: Cognitive Humans Born Between 1982 – 2004.
For: [Insert Stereotypical Traits Here]
Reward: A 2-Minute Guest Analyst Spot On A 24-Hour Cable News Show”
But if we Millennials could hire a solid political consultant*, said person would only need to put a bit of the ol’ spin on our “Millennial attributes” in order to rearrange them into something altogether different.
And the results may surprise you.
News anchors and social commentators better start singing the praises of this generation, because, it turns out:
Millennials Are the Most American Americans Ever.
This is not to say we are The Greatest Generation, but a quick analysis of our qualities shows that Millennials define what it means to be American.
Let us translate the traits of Millennials into Ameri-Speak, and you’ll see what we mean:
1. Millennial Quality: Entitled
Millennials are “special.” Mr. Rogers told us so. We get trophies for losing. And we just know that deserve even more than what we get. If we don’t get what we want, we will pitch a fit.
We want our gluten-free, Splenda-filled, soy-frosted cake, and we want to eat it too. We believe that we (each individual, self-absorbed one of us) have a tremendous contribution to offer the world, and so we often get frustrated when nobody seems to be paying attention.
Translated into American: Proud
We are proud of who we are. So we have a little bit of an ego? There are so many people with low self-esteem and body image problems these days.
If we have enough confidence about us to dive into new cities, new jobs, and new relationships without a second thought, then why shouldn’t we? We only live once and should live how we like. (It’s no wonder we invented that awesome acronym: YOLO.)
We don’t understand why other people don’t seem to have realized how incredible we are yet. So we are going to show them, shove it right in their blind faces. We are going to put everything we’ve ever done out there in the open, so that everyone knows and can give us feedback on our amazing feats (like eating great brunches and watching full seasons of television in one day).
But this unstoppable pride is not our fault. We were born this way.
Or, at least, we were programmed at a very young age. That old man with the sweater sets and the tennis shoes, he did it! Our Helicopter Parents, they did it! They all drilled into our heads that we were unique individuals with amazing abilities that everyone should be witness to. They told us we could be whatever we wanted when we grew up, and we, silly little children, believed them.
So they should now just let us wave our freak flags as proudly as our American flag.
2. Millennial Quality: Selfish
We think only of ourselves and have no regard for others. We worry about shallow things, and have no idea what is going on in the world outside our little bubble. We don’t give time to our family, friends, or strangers in need. We don’t listen to anyone else when they tell us their problems or give us advice.
Translated into American: Independent
We are Boot-Strap-Puller-Uppers, the very definition of American. We want to strike out on our own and be our own boss. We don’t want to have to wait our turn for years in a dead-end job, obeying other people’s orders, wasting away our hours for the hope of (but certainly no guarantee of) a promotion or a pathway to success.
We need to serve ourselves and our best interests first, for fear that, otherwise, we may become trapped in a life that we cannot stand, inside bodies of which we are no longer proud.
We, like our forefathers before us — who set off from the stifling environment of ultra-religious, regulated Europe to explore America, to seize the land from the weaker Natives and claim it as their own, free world — want to break away from the old and force our way into the new.
3. Millennial Quality: Lazy
Millennials are in an eternal state of adolescence. We sleep late. We still live at home with our parents. We don’t have jobs, “real jobs,” because we haven’t tried hard enough.
Translated into American: Happiness-Pursuant
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That should be enough, but let me expostulate further….
Have you seen the numbers lately? Our great nation is in a depression/recession, but still, we keep waiting (patiently, as we were taught) for that beautiful promise of The Roaring 1990s to be fulfilled — that moment when we “could be anything we want to when we grow-up,” that time when we could apply for and accept that perfect, life-fullfilling job guaranteed us by this Land of Opportunity.
Why would we settle for anything less than happiness?
We are not lazy. We are doing shit all the time. You just don’t see it because it is minute movements on a trackpad, changes in code. But eventually, we hope, we dream — both the sweet little 90s optimists and guarded egotistical cynics among us — that our minute movements will create a ripple effect that will soon be seen and praised, near and far, and be the beginning of a great new opportunity for us.
4. Millennial Quality: Ignorant
We have no idea what’s going on around us right now. As mentioned above, we do not listen to others — not people outside our sphere of interest and especially not our elders.
Translated into American: Forward-Thinking
In the land where everyone has Freedom of Speech, why would we listen to anyone but ourselves? We are PIONEERS. Yesteryear’s Manifest Destiny is today’s Internet. Our elders do not any longer realize how the world works. Which is fast. Who cares what’s going on now? We’re looking into the future. The Internet is the Wild West, and we are trying to claim every piece/URL for our own.
5. Millennial Quality: Immature
When we’re not curled up on a fold-down futon in our parents’ basement, basking in the glow of our computer screens, reading Top 20 lists about “The Best Toys From Our 90s Childhoods,” when we eventually find the Red-Bull-and-ego-fueled kinetic energy we need to do something, we simply jump from job to job, from city to city, from lover to lover and bed to bed (five points for the song reference).
We will not, our put-upon elders lament, settle down. We won’t get married and have babies. We won’t invest in a homestead. We won’t even get a job that lasts longer than a year. We do not want to grow up and claim responsibility for ourselves.
We want to stay young forever.
Translated into American: American
Um, hello? America loves youth. We are a “young” country, founded relatively recently in the scheme of things, not yet fully developed, still straightening out those kinks. (i.e. “All men are created equal?” “Oh, they meant everybody!”) (or “Individuals can keep and bear arms?” “Um, we’re not sure that’s such a good idea.”)
And we are a country that values “youth,” inundated by the wrinkle-free faces of Hollywood and the youthful voices on the radio. (“Only the good die young.”) (“Don’t trust anyone over 30.”)
It is young people who fight in our wars. And young people who protest against them. Yet Americans are always doubtful, always unsure of what the next generation is going to do.
Millennials are generation raised on frosted tips and neon scrunchies, boy bands and girl power, Nintendos and Nickelodeon, Surge and Hot Pockets, white broncos and what the definition of is is, Y2K and 9/11, Iraq and Iran, iPods and iPads and on and on and on…(“We didn’t start the fire, it was always burning, since the world’s been turning.”).
People are worried for America’s future. What will it be like, they wonder, with Millennials in charge/on the loose? What can they ever do?
But America has always been a land of lost souls looking for the next big solution. She — we — have done some great things, but some horrific things too, as powerful nations and people tend to do.
America was an empire, the world leader for some time, a time that we Millennials will look back upon and fondly remember as Our Youth.
But now her time is fading, and she will become just another country in this increasingly interconnected world — albeit a country full of egotistical and unfulfilled individuals buzzing with the potential energy of our specialness.
And maybe that’s okay. The pressure is off now. Nobody is looking to us anymore — twilight America, languid Millennials — for the next great earth-shaking chess move.
So we can take our time in The Little Country That Could, create and explore and be free, until finally, one day, our minute movements on a trackpad will be justified, and like the minute men firing at the Redcoats, we will take this country as our own.
Because most of all, Americans don’t, won’t, shouldn’t give up.
And we Millennials, as the most American Americans ever, are going to take over this country.
So you better watch what you say about us.
*Note: I am not a professional political consultant. Everything I know about politics I learned watching The West Wing and The Colbert Report.