Millennials: America's Favorite Scapegoat

There may be a long list of differences between millennials and other generations, but at the end of the day, we all want to be prosperous.

Millennials are ruining everything, or so the rest of the country seems to think. While this may seem a bit hyperbolic in nature, a Google search of the words, “Millennials ruin” yielded a plethora of results reflecting the sentiment many Americans feel towards my generation. Spoiler alert: the results are far from friendly.

According to the internet, young Americans are to blame for the downfall of just about everything this country holds dear. From destroying the workplace experience to bar soap, my generation is, supposedly, single-handedly responsible for the destruction of American values.

Perhaps the most comical aspect found in the pages and pages of essays critiquing millennials is the fact that many of these criticisms are inconsistent. For a while, it felt like the “millennials are lazy” rhetoric was here to stay. You could hardly scroll through your social media newsfeeds or turn on the nightly news without some “expert” lamenting the lack of work ethic found among the younger generation.

It felt like the "millennials are lazy" rhetoric was here to stay, but then it was decided that millennials work too hard.However, just when you thought that narrative would never die, it has recently been decided that millennials are working too hard without taking time off from work and, as a result, are ruining the vacation time older generations have previously enjoyed. Translation: older workers do not want to be seen as taking more time off than young people, who are not utilizing their vacation days as much as has previously been the norm. So which is it? Are we working too hard or not working hard enough?

At the end of the day, young Americans just simply cannot win over the rest of the country. America has made us their new favorite scapegoat and there does not appear to be an end in sight.

Younger generations have always garnered the “young and naïve” reputation from older generations, but it is safe to say that no generation has dealt with as much fervent disdain as the millennial generation. However, I would implore the older generations to sit back and do some major reflecting before casting their next stone in our direction.

Millennials have had a rough transition into adulthood. Many of us became adults during the housing crisis and at the start of the Great Recession, a grave economic disaster that was caused by the older generations, and not by young Americans. As a result, we had to adapt and change the way business was traditionally conducted. We used technology to transform the workforce and have become the most loyal participants of the sharing economy. We might not work the typical “nine to five” work day, but that doesn’t mean we are not working just as hard. It just means our work schedule is a bit unconventional. We might not be doing things the same way our parents did, but that doesn’t mean this change is necessarily negative.

Additionally, many of us witnessed the rise of the internet during our adolescence and were able to use that technological breakthrough to learn just about everything we wanted at the click of a button. Sure, we might have our noses in our smartphones a majority of the time, but again, this change in itself is not blatantly negative.

Think of all the amazing technological advances my generation is responsible for. Facebook has broken down geographical barriers and has allowed the entire world to connect with each other. Twitter, while not exclusively a millennial invention, has been used mostly by younger generations. While the impacts of social media might seem frivolous to some, let us remember the powerful message the Iranian youth sent to the rest of the world during the Tehran elections in 2009.

After a complete media blackout, the youth of Iran found a way to log on to Twitter and share images and video footage of the political unrest and oppression that was occurring in their country. Twitter was so powerful in this instance that the 2009 Tehran elections were dubbed the “Twitter Revolution.”

The relentless critiques of my generation are not likely to go away anytime soon, but an in-depth discussion and an inter-generational attempt to understand each other is greatly needed. There may be a long list of differences between millennials and other generations, but at the end of the day, we all want to be prosperous and live satisfying, fulfilling lives.

This first appeared at Generation Opportunity.

More by Brittany Hunter