In defense of the millennial generation (that’s us)

This week, my favorite radio station discussed how the type of office snacks a workplace provides directly influences millennials’ satisfaction with their careers. “Type of office snacks? We don’t even have office snacks,” said one of the hosts, laughing.

In another instance, one of my mass media classes watched a video about millennials in the workplace, and I laughed aloud more than once. According to the video, millennials expect raises after completing elementary tasks and only speak gibberish before noon. Those are only two examples of how common it is for media today to poke fun at the millennial generation.

“Millennial” is an arguable term, as people use it to refer a generation defined by age or a specific behavior. People even argue about the exact dates which define the millennial generation, but those born in the 1982-2000 range are most commonly labeled millennials. Millennials are the butt of many societal jokes, as the rest of the world makes fun of our phones, our clothes, our weak characters and our soft lifestyle. Although I’m as “millennial” as the rest of my generation, I still often shake my head at our kind, making disparaging comments as if I’m a generation or two removed.

Recently, though, I’ve realized some good things about our generation and have truly grown to appreciate “us” in a deeper way. Of course, I realized that in talking about millennials, I paint with a broad brush. None of these statements apply to everyone, and there are lots of exceptions out there.

Millennials seem to be searching for a cause, whether that be a cause of social justice, environmental rights, or politics. We want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We may waffle around for a while, but when we find a cause we truly believe in, we will sacrifice a lot of time and energy into making our world a better place.

Millennials are a generation of acceptance. Although some accuse us of being too easily offended, we also have a deeper understanding that stereotypes and words can injure others. Millennials are eager to respect different backgrounds and cultures, and seem genuinely interested in everyone. Though we may not initially care enough to make the first move toward friendship, we’re willing to accept whoever comes our way.

Millennials also seem more health-conscious. Even when living the college lifestyle, we love the results health and fitness bring, and we’re beginning to pay more attention to what we put into our bodies. We’re moving away from harmful chemicals and preservatives in food and pursuing more natural alternatives. We also care more about how our food is made, and animal cruelty that happens in that respect. All the vegetarians, vegans, and pescatarians I know are millennials. We also make more effort to be active and walk or bike every day.

Every generation has problems, simply because humans are innately flawed. For instance, we could accuse generations before us for being close minded, wary of people from different backgrounds, and too rooted in immediate family over global issues. However, they were also incredibly hardworking, loyal, and brave people. Likewise, millennials have both good and bad qualities. If we’re going to exercise greatness and explode the standards our forerunners set for us, let’s stop bowing to achieve the minimum of what’s expected of us. And let’s stop disparaging our own generation.

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