It’s always been this way – older generations mocking the younger generation – but maybe this time it’s different. It’s certainly very public now anyhow.
Very few days go by without Boomers, let alone some members of Gen X (that’s my cohort), making fun of millennials – those born between the early 80s and the year 2000 (depending upon your source).
Common pokes and insults to millennials point to their sloth-like behaviour, they expect too much, and they feel various worlds are all conspiring against them. Maybe that’s partly true depending upon your reference point.
Personally, I believe this collective group of minds has helped deliver a world of good that some folks might easily disregard:
- They expect technology, products and serves to simply work intuitively. They demand customer-focus from the brands and companies they purchase products and services from. This only makes too much sense.
- They are a social generation. They are willing to collaborate and learn from each other, on demand. Why wouldn’t we want to rely on our family, friends, neighbours and communities to make our world a better place? Again, another no-brainer.
- They seem passionate, maybe better stated, rather defiant about their values. Certainly nothing wrong with that in my book; sticking to your guns; striving for adventure; charting your own path (as long as you are respectful to others in that process of course).
In recent years while following various (newer) personal finance and investing blogs, I’ve seen an increase in some form of millennial bashing. I’ve often wondered why this happens and where does this hate-on come from?
Sure, some millennials are genuinely over the top when it comes to their expectations. This includes some views about a right to own a home, drive newer cars, take vacations, have a good long-term job, hold a workplace pension (of some form), and the list goes on. Yet other millennials are far more realistic. They realize the economic climate has been working against them for many years now, including when their parents entered the workforce in their early 20s. (Most Gen Xers may recall a Common Sense Revolution that brought in massive provincial changes here in Ontario in the early to mid-1990s, some of them not very good with poor outcomes.)
For the first time in history, three generations want to actively stay in the workforce: Boomers don’t want to leave; Gen X are fighting to stay and millennials just want to get in. We’re working longer because we’re living longer – that’s not helping a younger generation succeed. Beyond the desire for income stability, post-secondary education costs have been rising steadily ever since I got my first undergraduate degree 20 years ago. Back then, my tuition was around $2,500 per school year. The average tuition in Canada has increased to $6,571, with the cost depending on what program a student is enrolled in. Housing costs, depending on where you live in Canada at least, can be literally through the roof. I read the average price for a detached single-family home in Vancouver is now well over $1 million. Toronto isn’t far behind that. Ottawa single-family homes are approaching, on average, $500,000.
Mathematically, not everyone can be average or middle-class. Millennials are working through these tough life lessons in real-time.
The whole “ah…kids these days” argument will always rage on – it’s not a new phenomenon – but the impacts are bigger and broader these days. Millennials live in a very challenging employment and housing environment – but all is not lost. Thanks to you we’re collectively more connected than ever before. You’ve taught many of us, regardless of the generation, to take some risks when it comes to being entrepreneurial, passionate and creative about our craft. Without you pushing and innovating our sharing economy wouldn’t be what it is it today.
Millennials, you have big challenges to overcome but many of you are very smart, possess great perseverance and are incredibly talented. With those attributes (and some good luck now and then in your future) I have little doubt you most of you will succeed in whatever you are striving for. I’ll be watching.
What’s your take on millennials and their challenges? What lessons learned would you share with this younger generation?