I recently came across this article entitled “7 Harsh Realities of Life Millennials Need to Understand”, written by Tyler Durden and published on the website Zero Hedge. In the article, Durden lists seven ways, in which he thinks millennials, as an entire generation presumably, are lacking in intelligence and hard work ethic, in addition to being too soft and too politically correct. While his tone, throughout the entirety of the article, is unquestionably demeaning and mocking, I, however, am going to provide an adult analysis and counter argument to the content he has provided thus far.
- YOUR FEELINGS ARE LARGELY IRRELEVANT.
In his first point, he claims that millennials insist that others tip-toe around their feelings and are much too fragile when it comes to receiving insults or negative criticisms from those with either different perspectives or backgrounds. One example he provides is the concept of mis-gendering someone, which could involve using the wrong pronouns when referring to an individual in the third person. This, however, is not a matter of feelings or an inability to accept criticism, but more about a denial of identity. Yes, you have the right to say whatever you want, and you will obviously continue to do that without fail, but maintaining a basic level of respect for those around you is not a radical idea or a ploy for millennials to be coddled. For example, if I insulted someone’s religion or Christian identity, they would likely get very upset and the majority response would not be that they insist upon be coddled or that they are playing the victim card, but rather, any uproar or objections would largely denounce this comment as disrespectful. While one is very much allowed to say it, doing so is not an effective way for someone to gain and maintain the basic amount of respect one should hope to receive in return.
2. YOU CANNOT BE WHATEVER YOU WANT TO BE.
For years parents have told their children that they are capable of anything they put their mind to or work hard enough at, but no one ever seriously believes them, especially in today’s economic and employment climates. Considering how difficult it is, currently, to get an entry-level job, many people do not waste away their days chasing pipe dreams. Obviously, there are a few, as there have been among many previous generations, but this is far from the norm. Despite the claim that they are much too entitled, many millennials do not have the luxury and certainly cannot afford to engage in a hobby or profession which does not guarantee a livable wage or substantial pay check. At my university, and at many others, there are students from various economic backgrounds, who not only dedicate themselves to their studies, but also work part-time jobs to help alleviate some of the students loans they will eventually have to pay off. In addition, many students choose to volunteer, teach inner-city youth, intern at various organizations and corporations, take on independent study projects, or even tutor each other; and there is nothing lazy or entitled about that.
3. GENDER STUDIES IS A WASTE OF MONEY.
While a degree in gender studies may not guarantee the same salary as a medical degree, it is not per se a waste of money. Firstly, there are a considerably small amount of students who choose to study gender to begin with, so it is not as if this is a rampant or widespread course of study, and neither is it new. Secondly, some of the greatest intellectuals and theorists have studied gender, such as Judith Butler and Michel Foucault. Based upon their many works of essays, books, analyses of theories, and their common occurrences and relation to a number of subjects, it is reasonable to claim that their successes have been largely sufficient. Whether a degree is or is not a waste of money is largely subjective and depends upon what one chooses to do with it. There are various other degrees that people have often deemed to be useless like history or psychology, yet there are many successful and brilliant people who have attained those degrees and based on the outcome of their lives would argue that it was not, in fact, a waste of money.
4. IF YOU LIVE IN AMERICA, YOU’RE ALREADY IN THE 1%.
The one percent refers to people in the United States who are the top earners within the country and contain the most wealth overall. It is not a worldly concept, but is rather particular to one nation. In addition, no one has ever looked at Uganda and thought that the people who lived there are better off than even the poorest of Americans. That is quite a fabricated notion. So yes, the U.S. is far better off than other countries, both developed and undeveloped, but the concept of the 1% is not applicable because it is based on a measurement of wealth owned by individuals or corporations within a specific country, and is not a comparison of one country’s wealth and privileges versus all the others.
5. YOU DON’T HAVE A RIGHT TO IT JUST BECAUSE YOU EXIST.
In this section, Durden says that one’s existence does not mean that one is entitled to healthcare, shelter, etc. And while this seems reasonable, his argument claims that individuals need to work hard to acquire the money to pay for things like health insurance and a home, implying that that is currently not the case, that people are just sitting around, not making an effort to get a job even though they are quite capable and able. However, an overwhelming majority of those who are near or below the poverty line or can barely get by, work more than one job and still cannot afford healthcare. Working hard does not guarantee economic success. It should, but currently that is not the case. So it is difficult to attribute a lack of healthcare or wealth to laziness when there are single parents, most often mothers, working up to four jobs, trying to keep their families afloat, by providing an income to pay for food, clothing, and shelter, whose jobs either lack health benefits or simply do not have enough money to purchase healthcare after all of their bills are paid.
6. YOU DO HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIVE AS YOU PLEASE—BUT NOT TO DEMAND PEOPLE ACCEPT IT.
Durden claims that living one’s life does not require the acceptance of others, to which he refers to cross-dressing as one of those possible options. Assuming this is referring to transgender individuals, it is not cross dressing if they are wearing clothes that they feel represent their gender, but that’s besides the point. Once again, he misunderstands the difference between respect and rights. Any given person can freely insult someone else, but even free speech has its restrictions. For example, if someone says something that presents “a clear and present danger”, that essentially threatens to harm the well-being of others, it is no longer protected by law. With this is in mind, I can criticize someone for their ethnicity or gender identity, and I would be protected by the law. But, I would also be an asshole, and usually people try to avoid that. Furthermore, it is not as if individuals being attacked or criticized for certain aspects of their lives immediately burst into tears every time someone is rude to them. Chances are they have experienced this backlash time and time again, and while they should certainly not have to, this constant exposure has most likely prepared them to face whatever insubstantial insult any given person decides to hurl their way. And being open about who you are as a person, is certainly not an invitation to be targeted by others.
7. THE ONLY SAFE SPACE IS YOUR HOME.
The concept of a safe space is not some room with padded walls in which people are coddled and protected from hurtful words like being called fat, or stupid, or ugly, but rather a place (an office, classroom, etc.) in which someone can confide in others without facing violent backlash that they might otherwise receive elsewhere. Many educational institutions have done this for years. I remember even in high school, some of our classrooms had little stickers on the doors consisting of some sort of rainbow pattern and the words “safe space” written on it. If anything, it was more of a way to let students know that it’s okay to be gay, or trans, or bi without having to specifically verbalize it. It was a very tiny symbol of acceptance and some may have found comfort in that. However, it is understandable why some people do not understand or are vehemently opposed to an environment that attempts to maintain a peaceful atmosphere . If someone has never been marginalized for a fixed aspect of their identity, it might be difficult to relate to or understand why some people might want a place to go to help them feel accepted. For many students, universities are a much more accepting environment than their own homes and families, and depending on their circumstances, they may no longer be considered a part of the family they were born into.
If anything can be generalized about an entire generation of people, it is that millennials tend to be more accepting of people who don’t look, or think, or love exactly like them. This, however, is not an indicator of entitlement. It is simply a natural progression of social change.