Jacquielynn Floyd on Millennials

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I was born in 1975. That means that I am at the tail end of  Generation X and near the beginning of the millennial generation.  As is the case with most  people, I find myself thinking, "I don’t think that!" whenever lists of typical general attitudes are directed at my generation(s). Nevertheless, generation experts can be quite insightful from time to time…if not even funny while they do it.

This piece was written by the ever-funny and mentally spry Jacquielynn Floyd in Thursday’s Dallas Morning News:

"We’re all young sometime, but right now looks to be especially advantageous.

The
demographic trendmeisters who like to keep us corralled in our correct
generational categories seem rather awestruck by the current crop of
freshly minted adults, the so-called "millennials."

The term has
actually been floating around since these precocious hatchlings were
still in grade school. Social theorists reportedly coined the term in
the early ’90s to identify the generation born since 1981.

But
now that the millennials are growing up and getting jobs, we are
ceaselessly reminded that they are as different from stodgy old boomers
and Gen-Xers as an iPod is from a socket wrench. We of more mature
vintage must study and understand them; we must adapt to their unique
needs and abilities.

A colleague in our business department has
been studying this phenomenon in a series that started Wednesday. In
it, she cites a "generational expert" who echoes a popular line being
offered by human resources gurus everywhere: Millennials seem selfish
and irresponsible (a generalization that’s surely insulting to them);
and the answer is that we need to
understand them better (a solution that’s insulting to us).

It’s
a prerogative of age to play the sorrowful kids-are-going-to-hell
violin concerto. What’s different this time around is that we keep
getting told that we have to put up with it.

The underlying
foundation of the millennial generation is supposed to be their baby
boomer parents (us), who turned them into self-centered praise gluttons
by hovering and coddling and bolstering their self-esteem, by telling
them "Good job, Caleb!" approximately every eight minutes for their
first 20 years on the planet.

As a result, 60 Minutes gravely reported last fall, "Their priorities are simple: They come first."

And
we have to put up with it, because they’re "tech-savvy." Without their
superhuman instant-messaging and texting prowess, our economy will
grind to a halt – so we have to let them wear flip-flops to the office
and address us as "dude."

There is, no doubt, an element of truth
in all this. Cultures evolve, and people of the same generation tend to
share characteristics.

But I’m not buying this blanket
condemnation of everybody born since 1981 as being overindulged,
irresponsible, selfish and undisciplined. The millennial I know best is
my youngest brother, an Army Ranger sergeant who pretty much kicks my
tail in the discipline department. He doesn’t even have a Facebook page.

Nor
am I ready to embrace the popular HR-guru learn-to-live-with-it trend,
which counsels us to flatter and forgive selfish babies who can’t work
weekends or get out of bed before 9 or manage their own credit card
accounts.

Wasn’t everybody a little insecure and
irresponsible at 21 or 22? Don’t you fall on your face once or twice in
the process of learning how to be a grown-up?

To tell you the
truth, I don’t think the problem is so much them (generationally
speaking) as it is us. If we’re surrounded by young adults who expect
the world to adapt to them, it’s because that is what their parents
have taught them.

Why? Fear. American adults of the baby
boomer (loathsome term) era are the first class of human beings in the
history of civilization to be motivated by fear, not of poverty or
oppression or disease, but of being thought
uncool.

Fear-of-uncool
stalks us, terrifies us, blinds us to reason. Grandpa might have
preferred being dead to being red; we would rather be dead than "lame."

And,
since we equate aging with loss-of-cool (it peaks in young adulthood,
like bone density), we’re losing ground all the time.

We want
to keep on the good side of the young, the cultural arbiters of cool.
Doing their laundry or congratulating them for getting to the office by
lunchtime seem like small prices to pay.

In their defense,
millennials as a group are described as more altruistic and less
racially biased than their predecessors. They’re said to be more
team-oriented (having played organized sports since age 2, I guess).

But, please, let’s quit worrying about whether they like us or not.

Let’s let them grow up.

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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One thought on “Jacquielynn Floyd on Millennials

  1. First, Generation X stretches from 1965 to 1983. That puts you right in the middle.
    Second, I don’t have much faith in generational statistics. I think you get better correlation of opinion breaking folks down by zodiacs than age. (That is not to say the correlations of zodiacs would be stark either.) The studies are for the express purpose of manufacturing news and the stories seldom do a serious analysis of the findings.
    None the less, there are some very valid points that seem very true here. I wonder about the impact of mommyism on the boomers and how that effects the boomers’ grandchildren. After all it is boomers that run the whole “all about the child” media and school of thought.
    As a parent of gen XI children, I’m in a pickle. The boomers, who only had 1.8 children per family, want to influence how I raise children. My generation has 2.9 children per family. And I agree with my grandparents generation more than I do with the boomers when it comes to child rearing.
    My parents were just barely older than the start of the baby boomer generation. My grandparents lived long enough to give me advice as a parent. So those things also influence me toward earlier schools of thought.
    My definition of a child’s role is quite different than what Disney or the school system espouses. I think that is why so many Christian parents home/private school.
    I think the “Me” generation is desperately trying to leave a bad legacy to their grandchildren. And the tough part of that is they are very well educated, very well established and very very wrong.