It’s a generation I have personally trashed on occasion for their constant need for afirmation from others. I have commented on their desire to acheive great things in and for this world and yet having an unwillingness to work hard. I have personally witnessed the poor communicaiton skills which have been popularly attributed to long hours staring at a cell phone texting rather than having conversations face to face.
I, of course, am talking about the generation that is known as the Millennials. Chances are, if you are a Millennial or have interacted with Millinnials in the past, you have heard the things above attributed to this generation. We are a selfish generation, aren’t we? I say these things slightly tongue and cheek although I will say there is quite a bit of truth to all of the things listed above.
Now, before I become just another voice, adding to the echo-chamber, defending Millennials for their uniqueness and their value to the workplace or whatever other crummy excuse I can make-up, let me (and this may come as a surprise to you) apologize for my generation. X-Geners, Boomers, whatever was before the Boomers, I am afraid what you see is what you got. Now, not all Millennials fit the stereotype. I am well aware of that. But, I am finding that most fit into at least some piece of the stereotype than those who don’t fit it at all.
Take for example the popular claim that many Millennials are poor communicators due to the devices that act as their fifth appendage (Oh, and side note, this is only going to get worse with Generation Z or Bridge Builders or whatever name this next generation will decide on. This generation is on their phones more than Millennials are. But this post isn’t about Gen. Z. Maybe another time). If most Millennials are honest with themselves, they are poor communicators when conversing with others and even in their writing due to the devices they now use on a minute-by-minute basis. I can admit that I am not the best communicator much of the time. Let me say, I’m sorry.
There are a slew of other poor characteristics which define Millennials that if I took time to mention all of them, this post would be so long Millennials wouldn’t read it (Nor would you, cause I mean, who wants to read a 4000 word blog about the problems with the Millennial generation). You may be asking at this point: What can I do? How do I help?
I believe most people have responded to the coming-of-age of Millennials by simply accommodating their needs. A smaller minority have stood with a firm lip and refused to retreat, refused to change, refused to back down from what they have always done, or at least what they have done since the last time they had to change because a younger generation came in. Neither of these are helpful. Millennials should not dictate every decision that is now made in a business. Their employers cannot cave-in to ever will and whim of the Millennial. The Church cannot give up the values it has universally held for centuries because Millennials do not like them.
At the same time, refusal to change on issues which may change the culture to be more “Millennial friendly” assures that you will have a short life. In spite of what has been said above, Millennials do have value to add to the workplace. They have value to add to the church. It is not compromising your moral convictions if you slightly change the culture!
Ultimately what Millennials, yes even the oldest of us who are now approaching their 40’s, need are people who value and respect “the unique little snowflakes we are.” Maybe better stated, we need people to come alongside us and show us the ropes just like every other generation has done before. Millennials need to humble themselves and understand that in spite what their moms told them, they are not the best at everything they do. There are people who have been doing what they are good at far longer than they have and because of this, they are likely better at what they do.
And so, Post-Millennials, find a Millennial and get to know them. Encourage them in what they do well. Correct them where they go wrong. Millennials, find someone who is older than you and outside of your familiar bubble and stick with them. Find out how they do things. Learn something from them. Value those who are wiser than you are. I believe only then will you be amazed at how little you actually know and find yourself desiring to learn more.