Opinion: Why does everyone hate millennials?

I was born in the mid 90s, meaning that, for the most part, I grew up without a cellphone. I remember the days when being on the computer meant messing around on Microsoft Paint for a an hour or so before getting bored and going outside. I remember running around without shoes on, playing neighborhood games and spending every second I could outside.

Growing up, I had no idea how much my parent’s generation would grow to resent my own.

A quick Google searched of the word “millennial” resulted in 41.5 mil results. “Don’t Call Me a Millennial — I’m an Old Millennial,” “The Unluckiest Generation: What Will Become of Millennials?” and “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation” are just a few of the compelling articles I noticed while scrolling.

We are being called things like narcissistic, lazy and entitled.

Even at Calvin College, the attitude toward our generation is not always positive. Just the other week a professor of mine told me that they assign half the reading they used to because our generation just can’t keep up.

Millennials got so many participation trophies growing up that a recent study showed that 40% believe they should be promoted every two years, regardless of performance,” stated Joel Stein in an article for Time Magazine.

I hear a lot about the participation trophy argument, but I do not remember ever asking for one. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they were annoying. No kid had enough shelf space to accommodate over ten trophies, and no one really wanted to brag about their “best attitude and teamwork” rec soccer league trophy, yet, throwing it out seemed like a waste. So, we had shelves of trophies that we never really wanted.

Millennials obviously have a bad reputation. But, I like to think that older generations hate us so much because we care about issues that aren’t their top priorities. Of course there is crossover between the old and the young, but historically, older generations care more about social security and tax reform while millennials care more about education and the environment.  

A 2014 Nielsen report, “Millennials: Breaking the Myths,” offers some data on the generation’s attitude toward volunteering. In 2011, 75 percent made a donation to a charity, 71 percent raised money for one, and 57 percent volunteered—“more than any other generation,” stated Fareed Zakaria in an article for The Atlantic. “The three causes they care the most about, according to the report, are education, poverty, and the environment.”

At 80 mil strong, millennials are the largest generation and the most capable of change. Instead of trying to fix the rhetoric surrounding millennials, we should focus on the issues that matter the most. Calvin College millennials especially should get involved in the community, go to seminars about environmentalism, volunteer at their favorite nonprofit and invest in each other by engaging in meaningful conversations.

Use social media, text when you want, watch YouTube videos when you’re bored, Netflix binge regularly and post on Facebook whenever you want. Besides, even though we are the “social media obsessed generation” we all know that no one posts on Facebook more than our moms.