“Kids These Days”: How Criticism of Millennials Might Reshape Your Retirement

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The Call:

A few mornings ago I was listening to one of those entertainment talk radio shows that dominate the AM hours.  This was a Wednesday, when the program featured a special segment where hosts read aloud listeners’ email rants and then brought on air the rant’s author to explain their opinion/grievance/gripe/hot air or whatever they decided to spew forth into the world to help eradicate that whole “faith in humanity” problem that some people seem to have.

The point is to feature guests with unpopular opinions.  Listeners get pissed off and call in to speak their mind and sling a little mud.  It’s actually surprisingly civil.  The hosts screen the calls beforehand and they don’t connect callers directly with the curmudgeonly guest, allowing for mediation.  As soon as it gets to personal attacks, the hosts cut it off.

All in all, I believe the process of getting pissed off over the fact that someone has a different opinion is a pretty useless thing to do.  When I feel myself getting worked up, I cool down by putting things into perspective:  This is a total stranger on a silly radio show.  I will probably never meet them and their opinions will most likely never affect me.

This week’s guest was a fellow that loved to write into this particularly multi-cultured radio show to share his racism, homophobia, misogyny, and all kinds of other bile.  The hosts could never get this fine specimen of throwback intolerance to call in and defend his reprehensible opinions.

Until this particular Wednesday.

“Kids these days…” he started.

“Kids these days don’t want to work.”

“Kids these days are entitled.”

“Kids these days just want everything handed to them.“

“Kids these days are lazy.”

“Kids these days refuse to start at the bottom and work their way up.”

“Kids these days have parents that do everything for them and they can’t take care of themselves.” 

And so on and so forth.

Noteworthily, he ended with a mention that college grads should be willing to clean toilets and mop and that it angered him that they felt above such janitorial tasks.  

As I said, I try not to let the existence of people with different opinions get under my skin, especially people as petty and inconsequential as this man who makes time to write bigoted diatribes every week and send them to a local radio morning show.  But he still managed to really get to me.

Maybe it was the fact that I woke up at 6 am to run 5 miles that morning.  

Maybe it was the fact that I was on my way to work an 11-hour shift.

Maybe it was the fact that I deliver pizzas for a living.

Maybe it was the fact that I spent all of my years in public schools taking the most challenging classes available to me and working my ass off to make good grades.

Maybe it was the fact that I scored high enough on the SAT, achieved a 4.8 GPA, and volunteered for 75 hours to earn my full-ride scholarship for college.

Maybe it was the fact that throughout college (in addition to being a full-time student), I worked a part time job 25-30+ hours every week while also taking on unpaid internships.  This lazy bum right here pulled 60-hour weeks (this doesn’t include hours spent on homework and term papers) in order to get prepared for the “real world.”

Maybe it was the fact that I graduated college in the top 10% of my class.

Maybe it was the fact that after graduation employers told me that my college degree had no value and that I needed to work for them for free to gain experience before anyone would pay me.  

Maybe it was the fact that most friends my age worked just as hard because our parents told us that a college degree would open doors for us in life, and now our parents and people their age are telling us that we are entitled because we want jobs. 

Entitled.  For wanting jobs.  For wanting to work.  How the hell does that even make sense?

It could have been any of those things.  It was probably all of them.  That’s why this garbage pisses me off when it really shouldn’t.

You can criticize me in a lot of ways.

You can tell me that my optimism is naive.

You can tell me that my ambitions are silly.

You can tell me that I’m not unique, that there are thousands of others just like me.

You can tell me that I’m arrogant, that I’m not nearly as smart as I think I am.

You can tell me that my compassion isn’t practical and that someday I will outgrow it.  

I’ll take those criticisms, the same way that people my age have always taken criticisms from people your age.

But don’t call me lazy.  I’m too tired and cranky from my textbook not-lazy lifestyle to put up with that.

You know what I do for fun?  I run 26.2 miles.  Don’t lecture me about motivation.

Don’t call me entitled when my whole life I’ve been told that employers would value me once I earned my college degree.  If my parents had raised me to believe that four years of busting my butt to get a higher education would result in me mopping and cleaning toilets, I wouldn’t have bothered.

The Culprits:

People that criticize an entire chunk of our population based solely on the years in which they were born need to take a good hard look at themselves.  This gentleman that called into the radio show had previously refused to open his racism, misogyny, homophobia, bigotry, hatred, ignorance, intolerance up to criticism.  It wasn’t until he decided to tackle the issue of “Kids these days” that he felt safe enough to face listeners that might disagree with him.  Why is it more okay for you to hate people based on their age than based on their gender, race, or sexual preference?

As I said before, this segment in the morning show is very well-conducted and it stays surprisingly civil.  This man’s peers called in to (halfway) disagree with him:

“My kids aren’t like that.  I raised them right, but I still agree that lazy ‘Kids these days’ out there in droves.”

“I know a lot of people that don’t fit into that mold, but I still see where you’re coming from.”

“It’s not the whole generation, just the ones that weren’t raised right.”

Notice any pattern here?  People buy into this notion that “Kids these days” are going to be the downfall of our world, and yet the “Kids these days” that they actually know don’t fit the stereotype.  It’s anecdotal, I know, but isn’t exposure to people of different groups the best way to end bigotry?  How many intelligent, hard-working, motivated “Kids these days” do you have to personally know before you stop automatically looking down your nose at the ones that you’ve never met?

It’s so easy to fear the menacing, ambiguous “THEY,” but once you meet one of “THEM,” aren’t you supposed to be smart enough to recognize that lumping huge groups together based on superficial criteria results in a monumentally useless worldview?

The Conspiracy Theory:

Finally, let me posit my nifty conspiracy theory on this issue.

There are many people in our country that would love to curb entitlement spending, Social Security included.  Some of them have unfathomable resources and platforms in the channels that guide our public dialogue.

Isn’t there a possibility that they’re playing both of us?

They’re turning soon-retirees against the people that will continue paying into Social Security.

And the bigotry isn’t lost on younger workers:

“According to a Pew Research survey taken earlier this year, just 6% of Millennials say they expect to receive full Social Security benefits when they retire. Fully half say they expect to get  nothing at all.”

People my age are buying into the gloom and doom outlook that so many project for our country.  How long do you think we will stew on our cynical expectations for Social Security before we decide to just liquidate the whole trust to pay off some of that National Debt that we will inherit from our parents and grandparents?

Imagine a world in which those retirement benefits that you paid into your entire life were wiped out.  That’s the world that Millennials are imagining.  Why wait until we get screwed over?  Why not go ahead and cut the cord right now?

After all, it will only affect that generation that spits on us and calls us lazy as we toil to find our way in a world that tells us that we have no value.

The Answer:

I personally don’t believe in liquidating Social Security, but a demographic that is being constantly derided and held under thumb might find the notion pretty appealing.

Anyone that clicked through and read the Pew Research link knows that “Generational War” is fairly overstated and that the majority of Americans aren’t buying into it.  I’m merely pointing out the danger of a cultivated animosity between age demographics.

I believe that there does not exist a single challenge in the history of mankind that our country can’t overcome.  You can tell me that my optimism is naive.

Just remember that when you call me lazy, when you call people with similar experiences to me lazy with no supporting evidence other than our birthdate, you are raising your hand to be counted amongst the ignorant.  And you might just be kicking a hornet’s nest that is resting right next to your retirement.

Stop.

Instead let’s start a new group, one comprising of all ages:  Americans willing to work together to solve our nation’s problems and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,  people old and young that believe in our collective ability to solve our problems and look out for each other.

No more “Kids these days” – only united Americans open-minded and militantly loyal to each other.

 

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13 thoughts on ““Kids These Days”: How Criticism of Millennials Might Reshape Your Retirement

    • Believe me, I’ve had days when I felt that way. But it’s wrong. To blame an entire group based on their age is exactly the problem that our own generation is facing.

      Every American is an asset to their country. If Baby Boomers can work together with Millennials, we can accomplish literally anything. However, I believe that there are those that profit from us bickering and mistrusting each other. It doesn’t have to be a matter of “Us” against “Them.” Any separation is superficial and direly needs to be overcome in order for our nation to move forward.

      My post probably came out nastier than I intended it to, but people need to recognize the ill feelings that these stupid “Kids these days” comments breed. They aren’t dangerous yet, but 29% of Americans believing that there is “a lot of conflict between young and old” is not insignificant. Why wait until it becomes a problem to nix the negativity?

      • totally agree with you…generations, not nations and never corporations…will be the answer to all of america’s future problems…it must be done together..people before profits always..that is what is not happening 🙂

  1. Your optimism is not naive. And you are not lazy. You seem to have a fighting strength in your outlook and I think that’s the best trait one can have. So you deliver pizzas right now? So what? It’s not forever. Wanting a job based on a college degree isn’t a sense of entitlement, you’ve earned the right to apply for jobs that require a college degree. And while the degree you earned may not lead you into the subject you studied your ass off in college, it will one day open a door for you. Hang in there you optimistic man!

    • Thanks for the positive words! If more people would think before speaking, there wouldn’t be folks like the guy I mentioned that called into the radio show. There are just so many people that open their mouths and spew garbage with no regard to whether or not what they’re saying will make the world a better place or even if their words have any value.

      Us writers are lucky in that regard. It takes so much more time to write something than it does to say it. That gives us that much longer to contemplate whether of not our words will have the intended effect.

  2. underwaterraven

    No truer words have ever been spoken. I completely and utterly agree with you. I don’t think I could handle listening to such a radio show even for half a minute, because people like that make me so, so angry (and it’s very difficult to get me angry). It makes me angry and upset when adults criticise our generation by saying things such as we’re ‘lazy’ or that we have it ‘too easy’. That just simply is not the case. If anything, we have to work harder and in tougher conditions to get at least somewhere in life and gain at least some financial security. I could literally talk for days about this because it gets right on my nerves, but you’ve managed to articulate it all in one, concise post. So thank you!

    • I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only person that this bothers! It’s a tremendously stupid thing to get upset about, but it’s also a tremendously stupid way to provoke someone.

      The whole worldview involved fosters a two-way street of ageism. I used to work for Baby Boomers that appreciated my hard work, but didn’t want to pay me for it and certainly didn’t want to stop believing that everyone my age is lazy and entitled. It certainly didn’t improve my opinion of people THEIR age! There were days when I had to force myself to remember that you can’t lump everyone that age into a group and assume the worst of them just because you’ve encountered a few bad apples.

      It’s a message that is being pushed hard in America. One end of the political spectrum in particular really latches onto it over here, and the media outlets that target those folks are leading the charge in defaming Millennials. It’s pretty sickening because this is such a pointless distraction when there are way more important things for our citizens (and our media outlets especially) to talk about!

  3. One of my favorite thoughts with this is each time who “they” used to be.
    “Women voting will destroy the world”
    “A black US President will destroy the world”
    “Women in the workplace will destroy the world”
    And so on the story goes.

    I also like to remind those who claim this generation you and I are both in are lazy that we were told to work hard for an education and doors would open. While I did not finish a college degree I was only given the opportunity for my job because I had volunteered and someone thought to give me a call and let me know there was an opening. Now I’m working like crazy to pay off the college, the loans, and then go BACK to college and get a degree while still working my hours and working on novels.

    • All of that on your plate and then they have the nerve to call you lazy or entitled. There’s really never a good time to throw those words at people who work so hard. Even if I’m sitting on the couch, I’m usually pursuing my writing aspirations. For writers, even hobbies are hard work!

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