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In Defense of Millennials

By February 14, 2020Millennials
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Ah, millennials! Those pampered, self-absorbed, lazy, narcissistic, entitled, reality-TV-watching, participation trophy bearing, smartphone addicted, self-esteem obsessed ne’er do wells, still living in their parent’s basement and craving ever more respect from others that they never even came close to earning. This is the generation that surely will finally finish us all off.

How much dumber, lazier and more clueless could today’s young people possibly be?

As one born at the midpoint of the baby boom, I have an opinion about that. First, I must acknowledge that the Millennials did in fact reject the eyeball-licking craze of their Gen X predecessors, but that said… I still recall clearly, the serious, sober mindset of those of us coming of age in the 1970s during the worst part of the Vietnam War, all the campus unrest due to the actions of the powers that be in Washington and the realization that pollution bad enough to kill 20 people and sicken half the town of Donora, PA and cause the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland to catch on fire was all descending on our heads.

How did my generation respond to these and all the other enormous challenges of the time?

Ummmmmmm… How about Streaking, Toga Parties, and hundreds of thousands of those hideous, little Yellow Smiley Faces? And how much sense did Woodstock, the iconic music festival in the Summer of 1969 make? Walk for miles and miles to get to the venue to hang out for 3 days with 400,000 of your closest friends at some old guy’s dairy farm? Outside? In the rain? With woefully inadequate food, water and medical supplies?  Brilliant! Sure, an iconic event…, but what on God’s green earth did it have to do with addressing the pressing issues of the day? It was nothing more than a gigantic concert and party. That’s it. It’s not the least bit difficult to understand why Max Yasgur refused to rent out his farm for a do-over the following year. He was still cleaning up the mess!

Oh, but the early baby-boomers of the early 60s were much more serious-minded. They stayed busy with things like Banana Peel Smoking. “Banadine” was the fictional chemical that supposedly got you a cheap high. Also brilliant!

Or what about the phone-booth stuffing of the 1950s? Thanks to the efforts of the gang at the Durban, South Africa YMCA on March 20, 1959, we all now know that 25 people can fit inside a standard phone booth. (Do millennials even know what a phone booth is?)

Or what about the goldfish swallowing contests of the 1940s? Is Millennial Tide-Pod swallowing any dumber? At least those ridiculous “Kilroy Was Here” sketches are pretty much gone forever. continued below

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Or what about before that in the 1920s? Flagpole sitting is certainly a highly intellectual endeavor. Dance marathons too! They certainly advanced the knowledge and well-being of mankind.

And I love the following snippet from Town and Country magazine published in Paris in 1771. Did you catch the date? 1771? 250 years ago?

“Whither are the manly vigour and athletic appearance of our forefathers flown? Can these be their legitimate heirs? Surely, no; a race of effeminate, self-admiring, emaciated fribbles can never have descended in a direct line from the heroes of Potiers and Agincourt…”

I could go on and on, but you get the point.

Here’s the newsflash… Young people are inexperienced and do and think dumb things due to that dearth of life experience and the fact that human brains do not fully develop physically until around age 25. Personally, I think guys’ brains take at least another 5 years. I would never tell my kids, but I was still periodically doing some dumb, crazy stuff until I got past 30.

Speaking of kids… I have two, and they’re both millennials – i.e., born between 1981 and 1996. Do some quick math and you’ll realize that the age range for millennials is now 24-39! In other words, all the millennials are now authentic adults with physiologically fully developed brains. They represent 21% of U.S. population and 30% of the adult population. Combine them with their slightly older Gen X predecessors and together they are 60% of the adult population.

Baby Boomers are still 1/3 of the adult population, but a good half are retired. Which means… Baby Boomers are no longer running things. It’s Gen X and – God help us – the Millennials, that are now truly running the show. They will be the force in the 2020 election.

The Greatest Generation saved the world from dictatorial tyranny. The Baby Boomers grew up and presided over a time when enough food, health care and technology was developed and deployed to enable a doubling of total world population and at the same time cutting the number of people living in abject poverty by more than half. That’s from almost 2 million down to about 750 million. Fewer people today live in abject poverty than did in 1800, which was before the Industrial Revolution!

Those few statistics by the way, prove beyond any doubt whatsoever that the Baby Boom generation did more to improve overall human standards of living than any other preceding generation. So does that mean Baby Boomers cannot retire? That our offspring are incapable of doing as good a job as we did? That we are still needed to save the world?

Ummmmm…. That would be no. In fact, that would be HELL NO!

It’s true that millennials grew up in a world overflowing with abundance. I swore, I’d never say to my kids as my parents said to me, “You don’t know how good you have it,” but I did. And you know what? I didn’t know. Neither did my kids. Neither will their kids. Think about this now… If you didn’t grow up in a world overflowing with abundance, what on earth makes you think you’re equipped with the experience and instincts to know how to effectively deal with such a world? You aren’t! Your kids are. Let’s get out of the way, and let them surprise us with their ingenuity.

It’s also true that millennials resent authority on the job. When the boss told a young Baby Boomer to jump, we asked, “How high?” We couldn’t believe we had gotten the job to begin with, were not about to screw it up by being difficult, and pretty much toed the line since we expected to be with the same company 25 or 30 years hence.

Not so much any more. Millennials know that by age 30, they’ll be with their 3rd or 4th or even 5th company. Knowing that, who in their right freaking mind would put up with very much bullshit from a boss? That’s why when the boss says, “Jump,” the Millennial asks, “Why?” The Millennials aren’t jerks. They’re simply astute enough to get out of a less-than-ideal situation ASAP.

One final difference I’ll note is life expectancy. When my mom was born in 1932, life expectancy was 60 years. Today it’s 79. Technology also now makes it possible for women to safely have children in their 40s. Millennials routinely get married and have children much later than any previous generation. That is, unlike Boomers, they wait until after their brains are fully physically developed. Their odds of making a better mate-choice decision is much higher.

So quit your bellyaching about the Millennials.

I’m your Intentionally Vicarious host Todd Youngblood – Realizing that Millennials are already taking over the reins of the world – That we Baby Boomers are pretty much finishing up our turn at calling all the shots – Totally comfortable that my kids’ generation will do just fine – and thrilled to death that now I have even more time to have more fun than anyone else I know.

If this episode got your brain working and/or your blood pumping – please tell all your friends and colleagues about it. Send them a link to the episode and/or show them how to subscribe to the Intentionally Vicarious podcast on their phones.

And finally, please consider visiting and making a donation to one of the genuinely worthy causes listed there. Generously donating some part of your hard-earned money is fundamental to having more fun than anyone else you know.

Thanks for paying attention…

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