By now, you've likely heard that millennials are the worst. Whether they're being chided for cluttering up the workplace with their hoverboards or being called narcissists for using the cameras attached to their phones to capture moments in their lives, their elders have made it abundantly clear that they think millennials are just the pits.
On the whole, the scorn for this no-longer-so-young demographic born between the early 80s and mid 90s has mostly been dished out by the older generations, particularly the perpetually pearl-clutching baby boomers. Rather than return to that well for more treatises on why millennials are entitled for not gleefully accepting 80-hour work weeks, we asked people from Generation Z (20 years old and younger, for the purposes of this article) for their thoughts on the much-maligned demographic. Putting out the call to siblings, children, and friends of my contacts around the country, I asked a (hopefully diverse) sample of 11 people younger than me what they thought of people my age.
I think millennials are a lot smarter than Gen Z. They seem a lot more organized and basically just have all their shit together. They may have all gone through that "leave me alone" phase in high school, but they all know their responsibilities and know how to handle life. All the millennials I know all seem to have something planned or something to do. There's nothing I dislike about them. What I get from millennials is that they like to have their fun but also know their responsibilities.
– Emily, 17, Malibu, California
The term has lost a lot of its true meaning due to older generations using it to collectively call out youth as irresponsible or whiny. I've also found that most people don't even know the years that associate with being a millennial. They are misspoken about as being in their late teens to early 20s, and those who may be speaking ill of millennials might not realize that they are one. Millennials are known to take a stand and vocalize their beliefs, which may be an annoyance to those who won't see personal benefit. I see the term as just another term to unite those who want to see the world as full of opportunity and potential.
- Lindsay, 16, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
I'm going to judge millennials by saying they seem more judgmental than our generation. In my experience, my generation seems to be more understanding of different personalities and walks of life. I think that's due to most of us being 11 and younger when internet culture was starting. At the same time, though, we are definitely more awkward and "lost" in a way. I think it would've helped if internet addiction was taught to us. I'd tell millennials to chill out, and my generation to get more real and practical.
- Matt, 20, Washington, DC
Much like frozen yogurt, millennials are the cheap knock-off version of the people you'd really like to know. While we were busy discovering Snapchat, Apple Watches, and Tom Ford, they were still looking up what "on fleek" meant on Urban Dictionary—which, coincidentally, also stopped being cool the moment we were born. Unlike them, us Generation Z'ers are cool, effortless, and always ahead of the trend.
- Christian, 20, Stanford, California
I've always grown up hearing about how God awful millennials are, essentially how they have everything handed to them, which creates laziness. But, at the same time, I don't know if you could really blame them for the generation by which they were raised. They didn't choose to be born into a technologically booming time where any piece of information they desire is at their fingertips. I think, in the end, those who are able to really use that to their advantage will have a leg up on everyone else. Being born into the technology allows them to know how to use it so much better. I still think there is a large percentage of them who are entitled and believe that life's unfair to them. In my opinion, that's untrue. If they desire something so bad, then they should work for it and not assume that it will be handed to them.
- Stephanie, 20, Tampa, Florida
My overall impression is that they are relying more on technology than any generation ever before. Millennials have become more concerned with having a social media personality and getting likes on pictures, rather than being worldly and genuine people. They have incredibly short attention spans, too! Also, as a future teacher and current tutor, I've seen a huge decline in common knowledge, due to the fact that you can ask Siri anything. They are extremely tech-savvy and have huge potential, but are too reliant on technology and have lost important socialization skills.
- Trevor, 18, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
In my family, I've grown up with two brothers who are considered millennials. To me, the millennial generation is pretty different despite the small age difference. Just through the use of social media, my generation's communication is definitely less physical. My brothers make fun of my excessive snapchatting because I send "meaningless" pictures that have no purpose. In my generation, my friends and I communicate constantly through social media without necessarily having anything to say. I text and snapchat my friends just to keep streaks or talk to them instead of actually going out of my way to speak to them face to face. I honestly admire the physical communication of the millennials. I feel like I was raised to participate in the overuse of social media without even consciously knowing, and now it's just a part of life. I wish classic communication was more prominent in my generation, but I have a bad obsession with my phone.
-Helen, 16, Atlanta, Georgia
Millennials tend to get a bad rap for everything that's going on in the world. Just because they have different ideas than the generation before them doesn't make those ideas bad. I really respect how they value a work/life balance instead of just working themselves to death. I also think the way millennials brought technology to the forefront of everything is a good trend, and I think that will continue even further with my age group as well. I also like the attitude that many millennials have about money. I think that it's great that they are a generation that cares less about money than previous ones. However, I think that millennials are very "me first," which can be good and bad. They definitely seem entitled and narcissistic, but I don't think it's any worse than the people in my own generation. I would say that pretty much all of the negative qualities of millennials are just as bad or worse in my generation. Overall, I think they get a bad rap just for being different than the generations before them.
- Ben, 20, Lincoln, Nebraska
I think millennials are misunderstood in our society today. There is this need to put them in boxes like "millennials are too obsessed with themselves or technology, millennials all love Bernie Sanders, millennials are coddled." In reality, the generation of millennials represents thousands of diverse young adults from different backgrounds, ideologies, and skill sets. You cannot box this population with a generic brand. I think that millennials are currently undergoing the middle-child syndrome; they are not as experienced or "wise" as Generation X and they are not as up-and-coming as Generation Z (my generation); they are stuck in the middle.
-Sloan, 17, Atlanta, Georgia
Obviously millennials have a bad reputation. Their status as a generation has become somewhat of a joke actually. People love to complain how sensitive they are and how self-centered they are. I don't agree.
If you compare the life of a teenage millennial to the life of a teenage baby boomer or Generation Xer, millennials are under a significant amount of pressure to do and accomplish so much more at a young age. Kids are expected to go to college more than ever now, yet colleges are harder to get into and much more expensive. And once in college, millennials were not able to treat it like the crazy, fun experience that their parents treated it as.
All of this isn't to say that millennials shouldn't get any flack. They are an extremely privileged generation, which they take for granted. And they are on their phones all the time. That's just a fact.
Millennials have so many more opportunities than kids of other generations. I think that a lot of millennials don't realize that other people in the past, and even people their age now, have nowhere near the privilege they have because those millennials are self-centered and only concerned with trivial things that directly affect them, which is detrimental and gives them that bed reputation. Luckily, if they choose to use their platform of social media in a positive way, which a lot do, they are able to learn things about people unlike themselves, social issues, communities in need of allies, etc. and then use that same platform to speak out and inform more millennials.
-Sam, 19 Littleton, Massachusetts
They're always on tech, and they're super hipster and have handlebar mustaches to look cool. For some reason, they always have piercings. They're kinda like Nazis. [They] completely destroyed our reputation. They're just dicks because of how annoying and hipster they are.
But the type of things millennials go on are Tumblr and Reddit, which are the most scumbag things ever. They'll laugh at memes about race or jokes about Americans or other countries. But then, if someone makes a meme about women or gay stereotypes they're like, "How dare you?!" They're more pissed off by the N-word than the actual meaning of it. Trust me, I'm left wing, I'm liberal, but millennials always think they know more politics than you. No joke.
-Luke, 11, New Canaan, Connecticut
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