The first part of fixing a problem is admitting you have one.
So it’s time to admit something I have been trying to hide my whole life, a label that makes me cringe every time someone calls me out.
My name is April Baumgarten, and I’m a millennial.
I am part of the generation that was born from 1977 to 2000. My peers and I have our hands glued to our iPhones and will probably get arthritis from constantly checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Older people call us lazy because we can’t commit to a job for more than a year, we aren’t happy with our lives and we think we are entitled to everything. And if you say something offensive to us, we can always retreat to our safe spaces.
There, I said it. I hate the label, and when someone writes a column stating how bad we are, I want to smash my phone and travel back in time to the Roaring ’20s.
If only I could be like the older generations, like the baby boomers and Gen Xers. After all, you had great music, you were self-made and you didn’t cry every time someone insulted you. I mean, if I said the generations before me prompted a recession and are closed-minded about change and learning technology, that wouldn’t hurt your feelings, right?
Yes, I would get angry if a younger person told me it’s my fault the country is in massive debt, and I get offended when someone tells me I need to get over myself because I say I have college loans to pay. I try not to complain about my problems so much, though others like to label my friends as narcissistic spoiled brats, just as we like to say the older generations are stubborn.
I could sit here all day and tell you how awful each generation is. Millennials love to complain about baby boomers and Gen Xers just as much as they love to bash us.
But I have a strange proposal: What if we stopped complaining about each other and tried to understand what the other is thinking? Better yet, why do we have to have those labels at all? In the grand scheme of the world, does it matter what we call each other based on age?
Here’s the deal: Both generations have individuals who have contributed to society in amazing ways. There also are a few people who do something that makes his or her generation look bad.
But not every person age 40 or older hates technology, and not every 20-something believes he or she is special. It’s silly to lump everyone in one group just because one jerk ruins it for the rest of us.
You can take this as a typical millennial being too sensitive, but let’s be honest with ourselves. There are traits everyone needs to work on. Constantly complaining about each other doesn’t fix our behavior; it just makes us hate each other even more. Neither generation is better or worse than the other.
So let’s stop being so full of ourselves and realize the only way we are going to fix anything is if we take the time to understand each other so we can work together on solutions. We can blame each other all we want, but nothing will be accomplished that way. Instead, the baby boomers will sit around their coffee shops complaining how millennials are spoiled, and my generation will rant on Twitter about how our elders refuse to learn.
Why not break that cycle? We could get a lot more done if we don’t let labels that mean nothing separate us. After all, admitting we all have a problem is the first step to solving it.
Besides, there is a new generation coming up. What do you think they will say about us?