I am not one to go easy on my own generation, Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation. I tend to be harsh. After all, these are the people Iāve grown up with and with whom I will grow old (God forbid). But for all my nay-saying despair, I really donāt think weāre that bad.
We have a ton of faults and annoyances. Our attention spans are minimal. Weāre addicted to brief missives, the briefer the better. We are full of ourselves.
Of course our attention spans are short. We can hardly remember a time when the internet wasnāt. We get updates on our phones instantly. News breaks and we know about it within minutes. We never have to wait for anything.
We are full of ourselves because we were told we could achieve anything, and we did; we āTrophy kidsā were awarded the prize of winner even when we came in dead last.
But when it comes down to it, for the most part, we get along with each other. Weāre less judgmental. Weāre gentle.
Sure, thereās still plenty of bullying that goes on in schools, but I was never aware of anything going on that came close to the mean-spirited attacks prevalent in A Christmas Story, Back to the Future, or Mean Girls. Weāve been trained to be accepting.
John Stossel, of course, gets it:
Older folksā¦complain that young peopleā¦spend hours playing violent video games, [so] violence is up.
ā¦(over the past 20 years), youth violence droppedĀ 55 percent. In Japan, kids spendĀ moreĀ time playing violent games, and thereās even less violence. And in America, despite media hype, there areĀ fewerĀ school shootings now, not more.
My generation is also a creative one, because weāve been encouraged to try things, and the word āfailureā is foreign to us.
āKids ācanāt communicateā because they text all the time?ā Stossel writes, citing another common old folksā complaint. āRecently, kids invented Facebook, YouTube, Firefox, Groupon, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and so on. They communicateĀ something.ā
Yes, yes we do. We may not be communicating deep, philosophical thoughts, but then again, “brevity is the soul of wit,” and 140 characters is brief. And for all our time being absorbed by the internet, weāre connecting. We arenāt communicating with ourselves, after all, but with other people, with each other.
Itās easier to connect with people nowadays, even people we donāt know, or only know vaguely. Doing so online creates natural distance, but is it better to create civil contact, albeit superficial, than none at all?
Gentleness is the character of our generation. Wikipediaās description of Millennials states that theorists have predicted that āMillennials will become more like the ācivic-mindedā G.I. generation with a strong sense of community, both local and global.ā We value family, community, and togetherness. A group with a tendency to herd together, possibly, but in a friendly way.
Millennials are being referred to as āGeneration Me,ā but I think itās more accurately āGeneration Us.ā Our youth was one of shared experiences. Buzzfeed constantly posts listicles (millennial word) like this one: ā25 Ways To Tell Youāre A Kid Of The ā90s.ā Millions of us can read it, nod our heads, smile, and reminisce. We identify with the same things, and have never lost touch.
We even have our own sort of language which transcends social groups. Whether youāre a prep, a nerd, or an outcast, we have all been so intimately exposed to and aware of one another for so long, the boundaries between us are merely voluntary.
As usual, John Stossel gets us:
Old people always talk about the good old days. But the good old days were not so good. When I was young, more kids were intolerant, racist, sexist, and homophobic. They had little knowledge of life beyond their neighborhoods. Today, thanks to the Web and other innovations, life is better, not worse.
And as for narcissism, isnāt that a part of youth? As a brilliant millennial once said, (it was me), āItās normal to think youāre the best before youāve lived long enough to figure out that youāre far from it.ā
Teresa Mull is the managing editor of Human Events.Ā