By Apsara Senaratne
In a 2013 article titled “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation” published in TIME Magazine, Joel Stein characterized millennials as “lazy, entitled, selfish, and shallow,” noting their supposed divergence from the same traits of the “Me Generation,” also known as the baby boomers.
His article inspired outrage among millennials, resurfacing the ongoing debate regarding which generation is more problematic: the baby boomer generation, born from 1946 to 1964, or the millennial generation, born from 1980 to 1995.
With rising unemployment rates and increasing student debt among millennials, the question arises of who is responsible for their unfortunate circumstances. Today’s millennials with student debt and a degree earn the same amount that workers with no degree earned in 1989, and on average, millennials earn about 20% less than baby boomers did in 1989, according to USA Today.
While people are quick to blame millennials, labeling them as lazy and entitled, the statistics prove the opposite. For instance, despite the fact that many millennials have considerable student debt, they are also saving 100 to 200% more for retirement than the Boomers are, according to a Business Insider report.
The popularity of a belief in the “millennial mindset,” one characterized by laziness and selfishness, is simply inaccurate, as millennials are 150% more likely to be college graduates than baby boomers, according to a Pew Research report.
Rather than being negligent and “work-shy,” millennials also put in slightly longer hours of work than baby boomers currently do, though they put in fewer work hours than baby boomers did when they were the age of millennials. Combine that with their unparallelled levels of education due to the improved condition of schools and curriculum, and it becomes clear that there is no factual evidence supporting the stereotype of the lazy and entitled millennial.
It seems that those with endless complaints concerning the millennial generation have simply forgotten that they too were prone to selfish and irresponsible behaviors in their youth. Shortcomings caused by lack of experience are widespread among a younger age group, and should not be used to characterize an entire generation.
It is far too easy to characterize certain generations by characteristics which are prevalent as we age. Self-absorption and naïvete are traits associated with youth, not necessarily with being a millennial. On the same thread, however, the idea that all baby boomers are set in their ways is just as flawed.
Rather than spending time arguing about which generation has the worst qualities, people should take time to consider how quickly we allow falsely-conceived, age-related stereotypes to divide generations, as well as how to eliminate such negative ideas.