By Monica Sanchez
Millennials are the worst, right? They’re annoying and overbearingly doing some kind of action that irks the dark recesses of society’s soul. What must be done about this incessant Millennial problem that is spreading its infectious ideology across the globe?
It’s rather difficult to come up with a wholly effective solution to the Millennial problem, but let’s think radically for a moment on how to go about handling such people and what they represent. Quite simply, accept it. All these grievances being echoed on repeat don’t exactly give Millennials any credit whatsoever, and as human beings, Millennials at the very least have some redeeming characteristics.
So let’s reevaluate five common grievances about Millennials that are actually character strengths:
“They’re always on their phone.”
Hello and welcome to the present, where career networking is now accomplished through social networking. Millennials are always on their phone not just to show how lit their night was on Snapchat but to build and maintain positive relationships with others and reach out to people or companies they normally would not be able to communicate with.
While the phone and social media naysayers might feel the need to interject with “Why don’t you just meet them in person?”
In the working world, that’s not always possible due to time constraints and conflicting schedules. Keeping in contact with people via texts and social media is more convenient and reliable for the working Millennial who may be juggling two jobs, a master’s program, and even a child.
Staying on top of social media communication is also a great way for Millennials aspiring towards a specific career to get their start. See the past Millennial Feed article: Why Employers Want Millennials With Social Media Skills.
Because Millennials use their phones incessantly for career networking, they have built an aptitude for immersive learning that other generations have not completely caught onto yet. Walk into a random office on any given day, and you will inevitably be a witness to someone calling a Millennial for help with a computer issue. Phones are the gateway device to immersive learning, and the griping and grievances about Millennials on their phones must end if they are constantly sought after for their technological skills.
“They’re entitled because they were given participation trophies as kids.”
Surprisingly, participation trophies have led to intrinsic motivation within Millennials. Because Millennials have been told that they were valued as children, it made them significantly more optimistic and confident than children who did not receive the same level of attention or appreciation.
As a result, they have caused Millennials to want to complete a task or try something new not out of the prospect of a possible reward or an answer to “What’s in it for me?” Instead, those horrid golden prizes have caused Millennials to complete tasks in order to gain enjoyment and pleasure from simply participating in various activities. Active participation is a nostalgic reminder of their childhood, and nostalgia is a dictator that rules a large portion of most people’s choices throughout life. In this case for Millennials, that strict dictatorship is a positive factor in their lives because “nostalgia can lend…much-needed context, perspective, and direction” (Psychology Today), which it has by laying the foundation for the desire to achieve intrinsic rewards through simple participation.
A common complaint about participation trophies that reverberates throughout older generations is that they are sole contributor of the downfall of the Millennial generation. The complaints heard across the country go as follows: “Participation trophies make kids afraid of failure,” or “participation trophies make them feel entitled to everything.”
On the contrary, those participation trophies have given Millennials confidence to seek new experiences, chase different opportunities, and try new activities, even if they may not exactly be good at them.
And Millennials are not so hopelessly delusional as one might think. They are aware that they will not just magically get everything that they want because they were told they’re special once after a soccer game when they were eight years old.
Most importantly, participation trophies have also taught Millennials how to show appreciation and respect for others no matter who they are, which is a contributing factor as to why Millennials care so much about social justice. A person who feels entitled and superior to others would not even think twice about social justice.
“They have no respect for authority.”
Millennial’s lack of blind obedience to authority obviously makes them the most disrespectful generation to ever have existed. How dare they question anything!
While it’s unthinkable that Millennials, as human beings, would have curiosity and feel compelled to wonder why things are the way they are, it’s important to note that this behavioral trait is not unique to Millennials alone. Curiosity is a personality component that applies to the youth in every generation.
Plus, being able to question things is a trait that society should want Millennials to have too. In fact, St. Edwards University claims that “great leaders know that the path to exceptional growth and performance often requires upending existing ideas to choose a new path,” noting examples such as Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell, and Pope Francis, who both questioned the status quo in their respective fields.
Questioning the status quo demonstrates that the Millennial generation can think critically about difficult situations and will ultimately lead them to generate alternative solutions to societal problems. Millennials have the skills to become leaders of the future, and it all begins with questioning authority. And Millennials will continue to do so because they don’t simply accept whatever is happening to them. Their posts on social media and active participation in political protests prove just that. At the end of the day, people should want Millennials to be leaders and not followers.
“They’re selfish and self-absorbed.”
Every side has its story, and from the Millennials’ point of view, their so-called selfishness and self-absorbed behavior is simply a positive sense of focus.
Yes, Millennials love to post what they’re doing with their lives online, especially their accomplishments. Millennials’ goals are important to them. They like talking about and sharing their goals with others via social media because it helps keep them focused on working towards achieving them. And when they finally achieve those goals, isn’t it a reasonable concept that people might possibly be proud of their accomplishments in life?
Millennials are also aware that it’s a cruel world, and the philosophy of ethical egoism states that people ought to do whatever action “maximizes one’s own self-interest” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a person can be “morally right” if they positively achieve such an action without detrimentally harming the well-being of others.
In a competitive job market, Millennials already know that they need to do whatever it takes to survive, even if they have to resort to tactics of ethical egoism and annoy people with their goals and accomplishments by showcasing them online.
Oh, Millennials and their unrealistic expectations…when will they learn that humanity is not allowed to have dreams, goals, or any hope for something better in life?
What some people might label as unrealistic optimism and expectations, Millennials will refer to as positivity. This strange but ancient concept is vital to people’s mental and physical health. Harvard Health Publications states that “optimism helps people cope with disease and recover from surgery.” And the University of Rochester Medical Health Center informs the public that “optimistic people tend to live longer and have better physical and mental health than pessimistic people.”
It’s important to find ways to stay positive just to maintain basic mental and physical health in order to keep trudging on because life is hard! That’s an obvious statement that shouldn’t bear repeating. But with all the frustration directed towards Millennials’ high levels of optimism, society seems to need a reminder that optimism is actually a good trait to have. So if some Millennials are a little more optimistic than the average person, then let them be for their own well-being.
Millennials have had to swallow a lot of criticism and hold their tongues at times in order to avoid being labeled as disrespectful and rude. But George Orwell had it right in relaying that “every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” Perhaps, Millennials will be regurgitating similar phrases of negativity and bitterness when youth has shed itself of them too.
Hopefully, that is not the case and Millennials will learn, based on their experiences, to end this detrimental cycle of blatant ageism. But it is only human nature to comment and react negatively to things we find unpleasant due to a lack of comprehension. Moving forward, let’s avoid holding onto personal bias and be more willing to learn from each other, for every generation has invaluable wisdom to offer.