Even though I am an unashamed, enthusiastic reader of the Daily Mail, I was rather baffled by one of its stories last week, which was terribly snotty about millennials. According to the paper, they are some of the most bratty people on earth: self-interested, entitled, a ‘nightmare to employ’, the list goes on.
I say baffled because I’m a millennial – that is, someone born between 1982 and 2000 (1989, to be precise). The general perception of us is that we’re a technologically-savvy, impatient bunch, spoiled by the innovations of the 21st century. Deloitte has its own ‘millennial survey’ to help companies understand us. The last revision said we have ‘little loyalty’ to employers, with a ‘one foot out of the door’ approach to workplaces. Generally, there does seem to be a social consensus that we are a collective embodiment of Roald Dahl’s Veruca Salt; fickle and spoiled.
In anticipation of more criticism to come, I’m making a stand for my maligned group. Rather than character assassinations, millennials are actually owed a degree of sympathy and appreciation for what we’ve put up with?.
From an economic perspective, the period of 1982 to 2000 was a terrible time to be born. Many of us took the brunt of 2008’s financial crisis, with very little life experience to understand its effects. My peers – most of whom didn’t know what a recession was until it hit – simply weren’t psychologically prepared for the challenge of unemployment, redundancies and low pay.
It’s true that recently things have improved for millennials, not least because employment has increased. You couldn’t quantify it, but there is a sense of everyone relaxing. But I don’t think other generations should ever forget how much millennials have had to put up with, and will surely have to put up with in the decades to come. The lack of affordable housing, for starters, shows no signs of ending, and will affect our group the worst.
The trouble is that the peripheral details of millennial lives often look impressive – whether that’s selfies on Instagram, or the fact we all have smartphones – and are often taken as a barometer of our happiness. Though they have ultimately only provided millennials with a comfort blanket from harsher realities.
We are certainly not the spoilt brats that the Daily Mail article suggests. Many of us are simply confused, trying to navigate a world that closed its door to us in the past. And even if we were egocentric, as it suggests, would it actually be such a bad thing? It’s about time we looked out for ourselves.