Monday, October 6, 2008

Millennials

My father recently called me a millennial. Confused as to whether it was good or bad to be called such a thing by a parent, I inquired as to the meaning of his compliment/accusation.

“What are you calling me? A flower?”

“I was watching Dateline and they had an interesting piece on millennials. I think you should give it a watch.”

Ah, it all made sense.

Whenever one of his usual primetime programs isn’t on (Think: Boston Legal, Ugly Betty, etc.), my dad always turns to whatever else is on, rarely letting me or my mom get a chance to watch the Phillies game. Dateline or Sixty Minutes would almost always suffice, with whatever was being reported on being compelling enough for an hour of his time. Evidently, Dateline had reported on millennials. Whatever they were.

“I sent you the link, if you’d check your e-mail every once in a while.”

Slightly behind the times, my father is now armed with dated knowledge of technology, and has mastered the art of Googling videos and forwarding them to his closest family and friends. Tiny
Christmas presents offered all year long, twice a week. Generally, I skim the subjects of such e-mails, always wary of wasting my time by reading warning messages dealing with my e-mail account becoming “inactive.” I must forward such e-mails to ten people, lest my account become inactive!!!

I have become well-versed in what subject lines constitute spam, worthless jokes, and various other bullshit scams and generally elect to skip over them rather than delete them. This has left my inbox inundated with thousands of e-mails. The last time I logged in, I had 8746 “new” messages.

I knew that my father electronically mailing the video to me coupled with his mentioning of it aloud meant that his suggestion to watch it wasn’t merely a suggestion, but a homework assignment. Taken back to the days in high school when I actually had my dad as a teacher (a blog article in the near future, I am sure), I knew how much weight homework assignments carried.

So I complied.

After scouring through the vast array of pointless unread messages still waiting for spring cleaning (three years worth), I found the link to the video titled “The Millennials Are Coming,” and was incensed with what I watched.


According to Dateline, the basic premise of millennials is this: Millennials are the internet generation. People born between 1980 and 1995. They are extremely tech-savvy and are always using the latest gadgets and devices to help them get things done faster and more efficiently.

Seems like a good thing to be considered a millennial. I should be proud that my father called me by such a title, right?

Not so much, evidently. We are a bunch of brats, says Dateline, in so many words.
“It’s our way or the highway,” is the mantra tagged to us millennials. Employers can’t be harsh or tell us that they are disappointed in us. They must schedule our work day around our yoga class. We are so used to childhoods of trophies and positive recognition that we are completely unprepared for the cold realities of the workplace.

Even though we are incorrigible snots, employers need to find ways to “deal” with us and appease us. Rightfully so! I mean, we do know how to use all of those complicated computer-machines, after all.

Dateline claims that there are more unfilled jobs than millennials to fill them, so we are a hot commodity. If an employer gives a young employee a hard time, that employee can simply move on to a different job where the next boss will “adore them.”

Yeah, right.

My unemployed ass is getting kicked by potential employers, not kissed.


For this and many other reasons, the piece is offensive. It refers to millennials as an “epidemic” and as “extraterrestrials.” We are like a virus that is spreading, it seems, and we are so much different than the people that already exist in the workforce that clearly we must have come from another planet.

And who is to blame for the so-called millennial epidemic?

Mister Rogers.

That’s right, the sweater-vest wearing, shoe tossing, preacher who told all of our preschoolers that they are special. You are special and you are special, and even you are special. “And for doing what?” Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow asks. My answer: “Who cares?”

Mister Rogers was one of the few remaining wholesome shows. How can you put down a man who devoted his life to teaching children virtuous lessons? I remember crying the day he died, even though I was in eleventh grade. I even wrote a eulogy for him as a writing assignment. Mister Rogers had acted as my third parent. He imbedded constant positive messages in the psyche of millions of children and taught them the simple message that It’s Okay To Be You. Do kids have to do something to deserve that?


Yes, I may fit the mold of a millennial. I still live at home as I search for a job and continue to write. My mother even does my laundry (This, however, is due to the fact that I broke the dryer and she doesn’t trust me).

But I consider myself quite independent and far from what some evening news program would categorize me as. I am tech-savvy, but modest. Not all people born between the years of 1980 and 1995 are cocky and in constant need of flattery by employers in order to produce results.

I can’t help but feel a sense of loss as PBS recently took Mister Rogers off the air. I suppose that is one way to eradicate the epidemic and protect the world from the freakish extraterrestrials that are millennials. We took the place of the baby boomers. Who will take our place? The economy further failing, I envision a bleak future filled with pollution, corruption, and…. Teletubbies.

Perhaps if people start picturing that kind of a world they could begin to lay off the millennials.

-Youngman Brown

The "Millennials Are Coming -- CBS Video

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